Dog Tips

About Dog Clicker Training

Dog clicker training is basically using positive reinforcement for training a puppy or a dog. Ever heard of the famous Pavlovian experiment of ‘Classical and Operant Conditioning’? If not, we suggest a short read on it. To sum up the experiment shortly, Pavlov uses the sound of a bell to associate it with food. He conditions the dog to start salivating the moment the bell rings by offering food to the dog immediately after the bell. This is ‘Classical conditioning’ where the dog performs an activity due to a stimulus, the bell in this case. ‘Operant conditioning’ is when the behavior leads to a stimulus. Clicker training uses operant conditioning as the core principle. 

A dog training clicker is a metal strip inside a small plastic box that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. It is used to mark the precise moment a dog performs a desired behavior, followed immediately by a reward such as a treat or praise. It is an effective way to train a dog without solely using treats. 

Does Puppy Clicker Training Work?

Just like kittens, puppies are sponges for learning, especially in their formative weeks.

For clicker training to work, you need to ensure its efficacy. For that, there are some points you need to remember. 

  • Treats are the biggest rewards – Do not replace the treats completely. In the initial phases, you will have to associate the sound of a clicker with treats. Otherwise, the clicker will lose its effectiveness. Think savory chicken bits, tantalizing turkey chunks, or even a sprinkle of cheese for the lactose-tolerant pooches. Remember, a well-fed pooch is a happy pooch and a motivated learner. 

  • Start without distractions – Start the training in a calm environment without any distractions. A time when the pup is hungry would make it more effective.

  • Repeat – Upon pressing the clicker, immediately give your pup a treat. Repeat this 5-10 times.

  • Test – Click when your pup is not paying attention to you. If it responds by looking at you, voila! you've just created a canine Einstein who's eager to please and ready to conquer the world, one click at a time.

You can start to train your puppy as early as eight weeks, however, you should note that the time it takes to train your puppy could depend on their age, temperament, gender and breed. If done properly, can be a very effective tool in obedience and training programs for your puppy. 

Does Using a Clicker to Train a Dog Work?

While it may be easier to train puppies than dogs using a clicker, it does work on dogs too. However, all dogs do not respond enthusiastically to rewards. Some dogs just don't have a motivating stimulus that can be used as a variable for reward-based training. If a dog has low food or toy drive, clicker training may not be as effective.

Some don’ts for clicker training for dogs include – 

  • Paws for Applause: Your dog will indeed start expecting a treat every time the clicker clicks but will also need some praise for its good behaviour. A dog needs praise, love, and affection from the owner. 

  • Clickety-Clack: When it comes to using a clicker for advanced dog training, pressing the clicker on at the exact time becomes extremely important. A lack of hand-eye coordination from your side can confuse the dog and end up spoiling the training. 

Does Clicker Training to Stop Barking Work?

Clicker training not only works on increasing a behavior but also when you want to decrease a certain behavior in your dog. Usually, to decrease a behavior, scientists recommend using positive punishment or a negative one. For example, if your parents want you to spend less time on your phone, they can either punish you by asking you to clean the garage or by taking away your iPad. 

In the case of dogs, if you want them to stop barking, you can simply use the clicker when it barks and associate the action of stopping to bark with the clicker followed by a treat and praise.  The key is to click in the moment your dog is silent between barks. Your dog will quickly understand that silence is the reason for the click. 

If you’re wondering whether you can use clicker training to stop any kind of bad behavior, the answer is yes. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or travelling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including; broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote. 

Lastly, stay paws-itive! Dog clicker training is a journey filled with ups, downs, and more than a few accidental paw prints on the carpet. Enjoy the process, laugh at the mishaps, and celebrate the victories – no matter how small. With a clicker in hand and a dog by your side, the possibilities are endless.

Sources

  1. Petroff, M. (2022, September 8). Clicker training dogs: Benefits & tips. Dutch. https://www.dutch.com/blogs/dogs/clicker-training

  2. Gilchrist, R. J., Gunter, L. M., Anderson, S. F., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2021). The click is not the trick: the efficacy of clickers and other reinforcement methods in training naïve dogs to perform new tasks. PeerJ, 9, e10881. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10881

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