How to Clicker Train Your Dog

Learn how to teach your dog using clicker training in this Howcast video with Andrea Arden Dog Training.

The term clicker training has become synonymous with science-based, modern, reward-based positive training techniques. The clicker itself is simply a sound-making device with a nice sharp sound that we use in dog training to communicate very precisely and clearly with our dogs when we’ve done something correctly. Many of us simply use a verbal marker word such as "Good," followed by a treat, or "Yes," followed by a treat. That’s fine, but the clicker is better in that it has a lot more clarity. The only time your dog hears it is during a training session, so it’s not deluded by hearing the word ‘good’ and ‘yes’ periodically in regular conversation, and it not being backed up with that contract of a treat. And people, when they use a device like a clicker, tend to remember what they’re doing. So I find in training classes that when people use clickers, they are more likely to really focus in on their observational skills, their timing of their marker, and they remember to give the treat. So clicker training is usually faster and more efficient for both the dog and the person. There’s a couple different ways you can use your clicker. Again, it’s always a marker for the correct behavior, but there’s a couple different techniques that we can use it for. So many of us are familiar with lore rewards. So we would lore our dog into the seated position and click the minute your dog’s rear end hits the floor. Or you can simply capture the behavior when it happens. So lets say that I wanted to teach my dog to down. I’m going to wait him out a little bit and see what he does. When he offers the right behavior, I’m going to click and give him a treat. Now he stayed in the down, so if I wanted a duration down this would be a good time to click and give him the treat. You can also use your clicker for more complicated behaviors that take a lot of steps. When you do that, you’re going to break them down into small achievable steps. So lets say I wanted to use my clicker to teach a rollover, I might first have my dog in the down, use the clicker for that. Lets see if I can get him to move his head a little bit and click him for that. And these are baby steps, and then if he seems ready I would click the entire motion. And that’s how you use your clicker to mark the correct moment in time that your dog did something. I want you to think of it as the button on a camera. So if you’re trying to take a picture of something moving, you want to make sure that you hit that button at the right time. Too early or too late, and you giving fuzzy information. So clickers give you a precise way of communicating with your dog, what they’ve done right. You’re going to back that up with a great reward, and you and your dog are going to have a lot of fun getting started on your training. All you need is your dog, your clicker and a pouch full of treats.