Positive reinforcement or clicker training can be used to teach
a wide variety of behaviors. Besides simple and advanced obedience,
and correcting problem behaviors, you can also use it for housebreaking,
obedience competition, agility training, search and rescue techniques,
hunting, public manners, grooming behavior and dealing with phobias,
like thunder or loud noises.
As you’ve seen, clicker training is easy to learn, though there
are professional trainers and classes available if you’d like a
bit more support. You can find them by calling trainers in your
local area, checking with your veterinarian or inquiring at a local
pet store that offers lessons, and asking about clicker training.
You can also find a lot of specific and in-depth lessons for training
particular behaviors, both in books and on the internet. Check out
your local bookstore, or use a good search engine to search for
information on both clicker training and operant conditioning.
One thing to keep in mind, especially in the beginning, is to use
no correction beyond, perhaps, the word "Wrong" as explained
above. Remember that your dog is not being bad or disobeying when
he doesn’t do as you ask. He just doesn’t know what you want – yet.
If you say "Sit," and your dog doesn’t sit, he is not
being disobedient. Try looking at it instead as that he has just
missed an opportunity to receive reinforcement, and think about
ways to give him that opportunity.
Don’t let your dog or yourself get frustrated. If the dog simply
isn’t getting it, lower your standards and build up from there
or change pace and work on something less frustrating.
Give the command once and only once.
Don’t be afraid to train the behavior and then give it a name.
Only reinforce the behaviors that you want.
Remember that you and your dog are seeing this whole process from
different viewpoints. From yours, you are teaching your dog to come
when called, to sit when told, to do or not do what you want. But
from his viewpoint, he’s finding ways to make you give him a treat.
Clicker training is and should be a lot of fun for both you and
your dog. For him, it’s an exciting game; for you an opportunity
to stresslessly teach your dog to be the loving, obedient companion
you’ve always wanted. Take your time, keep sessions short, don’t
correct, keep it light, be consistent and strive to educate yourself
as you go. Do these things, and you will be amazed at how far both
you and your dog will progress, using the effective techniques of
clicker dog training.