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Clicker Mechanics: How to Correctly Use a Clicker When Training

Those of you who have taken a clicker training class know the importance of “timing” when using a clicker. But there are a few other important aspects of clicker use that you should know. Brushing up on these skills is as important to the experienced clicker trainer as it is to the beginner. And, if you haven’t taken a clicker class, what are you waiting for? Sign up now to learn the most advanced, scientific method of animal training available today. Here are some exercises to help you get started:

1.  Get comfortable with the clicker and make sure your dog is too.

clickerClickers come in many shapes and sizes and every brand sounds different. Click the clicker near your dog. If he flinches or is frightened in any way, try a different brand. Some clickers come with different sounds such as “pings” or “chirp” that may be less intimidating to your dog. Get a wrist coil or lanyard to keep your clicker conveniently attached to you and within easy access.

2. Practice keeping your clicker and treat hand motionless until after the click. Your dogs will quickly start focusing on your treat hand or clicker hand if it is moving. Keep it stationary until you click. Be like a statue … click, then go for the treat in your treat bag or give a treat that’s already in your hand.

Remember, your clicker is NOT a remote control. There is no need to point it at your dog for it to be effective. So keep it still.

3. Watch your dog! This is critical and cannot emphasized enough, you must be looking at your dog. Watch closely for the behavior you want your dog to repeat. Missed opportunities slow the learning process and can contribute to confusion and frustration.

4. Click DURING the behavior. Do not wait for the behavior to be completely finished.  If you do, you’ll probably click too late.

5. One click = One treat…if you click, you MUST treat. Even if you accidentally click, you must still treat.  The click is a promise that there will be a treat. Keep your promise and always give a treat.

buddysystem16. Practice your clicker timing without your dog present. Have a friend or family member help you practice with your clicker with your dog in another room or outside. Have them bounce a tennis ball, while you click each time it hits the floor. Or toss it in the air and click at the apex (the split second BEFORE it starts to drop). Or just watch them and clicker each time they blink their eyes. When watching the nightly weather forecast, click each time the weather person points at the national map. Any and all of these games will help hone your timing and observation skills. Now go ahead and start clicking. It’s Time to Change the World, One Click at a Time!!

Author: Dawn Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, owns and operates Pizzoferrato Pet-Care and Training Services (PPATS) and offers dog training classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station. Dawn’s classes, Doggie Do Good Beginner Clicker Training and Doggie Do Good Intermediate Clicker/Intro to CGC start Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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