There are just a couple of things to keep in mind before you get
started. First, especially in the beginning, find a room or area
to work in that is reasonably quiet and free of distractions. Second,
keep your sessions short – three or four five-minute sessions will
work much better than one or two ten-minute or longer sessions.
You want your dog to look forward to these training sessions, and
not become bored or fatigued.
Before beginning any actual training, you will need to work on
building the association between the treats and the clicker. Some
call this "charging up" or "powering up" the
clicker. It’s easy. Make sure your dog isn’t doing anything bad
at the moment. Then just click the clicker, and immediately give
him a treat. Don’t worry about any particular behavior at first,
just click the clicker, give a treat. Repeat this five to ten times,
or until your dog immediately looks up at you when he hears the
clicker, as if to say, "I heard that click, where’s my treat?"
Some dogs will get it quicker than others. Number of repetitions
isn’t important; your dog’s response is.
Remember; always give a treat when you click. Your dog must absolutely
associate the sound of the clicker with a treat, so never click
Occasionally a dog will be startled or frightened by the sound
of the clicker at first. No problem, just put it in your pocket,
or muffle it by wrapping a towel around it. It won’t take long before
he looks forward to hearing it!
There is no real order to the behaviors your dog can learn by this
method, so these are suggestions only.
If your dog or puppy has had no previous training, you might want
to start with "Sit." Have your clicker in one hand, a
treat in the other, more treats in your pocket or within easy reach.
Touch a treat to your dog’s nose and then lift it up slightly. As
he reaches for it, slowly move your hand higher and back toward
his eyes a bit, so that he has to reach for it. As he reaches higher
for the treat, his butt will naturally hit the ground. The instant
his rear end touches the ground; you click (timing the click is
critical!) and give him the treat. You have "lured" him
into a sit! Always click while the desired behavior is occurring,
never afterwards. And always click first, then treat, but do it
immediately with no delay.
Repeat this several times and then simply "tease" him
by touching a treat to his nosing briefly and then removing it.
Chances are he will offer the sit to you.
It’s okay if he gets up right away. The click actually ends the
exercise anyhow. Clicking "marks" the behavior, and your
dog will remember what he was doing when he heard the click. So
just do it again. If your dog does anything other than sit, like
backs up or tries to jump for the treat, just ignore him, wait a
minute and try again. Don’t worry about saying, "Sit."
Just click and treat whenever his rear touches the floor.
Once your dog has made the connection between the behavior and
the reinforcer, try stretching out the time just a few seconds between
the time he sits, and the time you click and treat. Don’t make it
too long, just enough that he sits and looks at you expectantly.
Then click and treat. Then try not clicking right away, and moving
your treat hand away. You’re teaching the dog to sit until he hears
the click. If he gets up, just ignore him and try again. Eventually
he will start coming in front of you and sitting to get his click
and treat, which is something you should encourage.
Attach a Cue (Command) to the Behavior
Cues are attached to a behavior only after you have the dog offering
the behavior. This is because you can only teach one thing at a
time, and since a cue without a behavior is useless, you might as
well teach the behavior first. Remember that your dog does not understand
English. A word only becomes meaningful when it has been paired
with an action over many repetitions. So first get the dog to offer
you the behavior on a regular basis; then put a name to it; fade
the reinforcement as he becomes proficient, and then start teaching
Once your dog is reliably sitting, start saying "sit"
(you can also use a hand or body signal) just as he is beginning
to lower his rear, and just before you click and treat. Keep giving
the command as you move the treat over his head, until he gets the
idea that he needs to sit when you say "sit." Eventually
he will not need the clicker to sit, though you should still treat
whenever he responds correctly. However, in time, you will want
to vary whether or not you give him a treat. This is called variable
positive reinforcement, and is desirable because you want your dog
to respond even when you don’t happen to have treats available.
You still need to treat sometimes, though, because if you never
do, he may stop responding altogether and the behavior will become
extinct. But as long as you treat occasionally, he will continue
to sit on command.
If you’re consistent, sitting becomes firmly established. Then
it’s time to move on to another behavior, using the same process.
"Targeting" and "Attention" are two other behaviors
you might want to try early on, as they’re fairly easy. Targeting
is teaching your dog to touch something with his nose on command,
while Attention is getting him to look at you when you call his
name. Other fairly simple behaviors you can teach include:
– Down and stay
– Loose leash walking
– Leave it
In addition to basic obedience behaviors, you can have a lot of
fun teaching your dog various tricks and fun behaviors, such as:
– High five
– Shake paw
– Stand up
The list is about as long as your imagination, restricted only
by your time, your patience and your dog’s intelligence, which is
probably a lot higher than you think!
While basic clicker training focuses primarily on positive reinforcement
of a desired behavior, there are times you will want and need to
let your dog know that he is doing something that is not desired.
The way to do this is to incorporate the word "Wrong"
into the training exercises. If you are teaching your dog to sit,
for example, and he jumps up to grab the treat rather than reaching
for it while lowering his back legs into a sit, you simply say,
"Wrong," withdraw the treat, and ignore him until he settles
down, then try again. You don’t need to yell, or jerk the treat
away, or become agitated. Just calmly say, "Wrong," and
continue the exercise. Use this technique with every behavior you’re
trying to teach, and eventually when your dog hears "Wrong,"
he will know that he is not performing a behavior that will result
in a treat.
Back : Dog
Home : Pet