An introduction to Clicker Training

Clicker Training Food Rewards

Clicker training is one of the most modern, effective and enjoyable methods available. Over a number of repetitions, the dog learns that the sound of the clicker means he’s done the right thing and that a reward is on its way. The clicker is not a cue, or a command, but a signal of reward that tells the dog what he got the reward for.

The clicker is always positive and highly accurate. Anyone in the family can use it and the message stays the same. You can give clear information to your dog about his actions up close, or from a distance, without your feelings being expressed in your voice. The clicker rewards actions you like – you simply ignore actions that you don’t.

  1. Say your dog’s name. If he looks at you, press your clicker (‘click’) and then give your dog a treat. Try this a few times, only clicking when your dog gives you his attention.
  2. Ask your dog to do something he finds easy, like a ‘sit’. When his bottom meets the floor in the ‘sit’ click and treat.
  3. Keep going with basic exercises until you can tell your dog is looking for his reward each time he hears that click.
  4. Now you can use the clicker to help teach any new exercise, as well as strengthen old ones!

Just remember…

  • If you click, you must give a treat! Even if you click at the wrong time, it was a trainer error not the dog’s fault so we need to ensure he still trusts the clicker.
  • The clicker can be a little loud for dogs when you’re first using it – don’t hold it too close to them when you are clicking.
  • You have 5 seconds between using your clicker and needing to provide the reward, that’s why it’s so great for distance work!
  • The reward you give needs to be appropriate to the difficulty of the exercise and the distraction level of the environment they are in. High value rewards or jackpotting (giving multiple treats) are required when the job we’re asking the dog to do is harder!
  • Keep your training sessions short and fun, always ending on a high!