CLICKER TRAINING 

HOW TO LOAD-UP A CLICKER

FEEL SAFE – FEEL GOOD

All dogs need to feel safe before they can learn. When you start to do a short training session with your dog or puppy, they need to be feeling relaxed, alert and content.

Aim to train for only 3 minutes. You can do 3 or 4 sessions a day, but they need to be very short. Dogs learn best in short, repeated sessions, and puppies need very short sessions so that they don’t get tired.

A good, short training session will make your dog more tired than a half hour walk – brain work tires dogs out and calms them, and clicker-training is the best Brain Work you can do.

CREATING THE CALM

If her body is relaxed, she’s wide awake and not hungry then she's ready to learn. We're going to teach her that being near to you Feels Good, and that learning Feels Good. The more a dog Feels Good about something, the more she will want to do it. The best way to teach her anything is to create that Feel Good sense about it, so that she always gets a buzz out of doing things for you. If I’d been given a wee bit of chocolate for every plate I washed-up, I’d be a much better washer-upper than I am … And I might even enjoy doing it.

 

The clicker acts as a signal to your dog that something good is going to come: A tasty treat. So the clicker signals to her that she's going to Feel Good. In Scientific terms, every time she hears the clicker, her brain receives a shot of the happy hormones (serotonin and endorphins).

 

The clicker isn't to get your dog's attention, and it isn't a reward. It's a signal that she will feel good, and want to do more of the thing that made her feel good.

EQUIPMENT

A treat pouch – it needs to be large enough to get your hand into comfortably and attached to your belt or waistband so that it’s easy to get to.

About 50 tiny, tasty and smelly treats. They need to be half the size of your little finger nail (or about half the size of a pea. Smaller, if you have a small puppy or dog) They need to be small because you’re going to be using a lot, and your dog will soon feel full, or may even start to get fat if you’re training using the Thinking Dog Programme. If you’re following the programme, cut your dog’s food down by a quarter so that she or he doesn’t pack on the weight.

A clicker.

TRY THIS:

  1. Take 10 treats in your hand and stand in front of your dog

  2. Click once and give her a treat from your hand to her mouth.

  3. Click again and give her a treat from your hand to her mouth.

  4. Do this with another 3 treats.

  5. Click once, count ‘1’ in your head, and give her a treat

  6. Do this another twice.

  7. Put both hands behind your back.

  8. Click once and give her a treat from your hand to her mouth.

  9. Click once and give her a treat from your hand to her mouth.

  10. Move to another place in the same room and repeat steps 1 to 9.

NEXT STEP

Have another 10 treats in your hand. Stand in front of your dog and simply look at her (smile – make it Feel Good for her!) The instant she looks at you, click and give her a treat from your hand to her mouth.

Continue to Click and Treat her each time she gets eye contact with you. Sometimes you can give her the treat in her mouth, sometimes drop it on the floor.

Try this 3 times, for no longer than 3- 5 minutes each time for two days. Then move on to Ping Pong Puppy (see leaflet on Ping Pong Puppy)

 

SOLUTIONS

If your dog seems unable to understand that the clicker means treats, it could be for one of the following reasons:

She’s won’t take treats from your hand. This could be because she’s fearful of being touched. If this is the case, try dropping the treat right in front of her nose onto the floor.

She doesn’t like the treats – try using cooked chicken. Most dogs will happily work for chicken.

She’s tired, or feeling unwell – stop the session and try again when she’s feeling more able to learn

She wanders off and seems unable to concentrate – she’s tired. Or she’s feeling overwhelmed. Just stop the session and try again when she’s feeling able to learn. A tired dog can’t concentrate and puppies will often wander off because they’re feeling overwhelmed. Just leave her for a while and try again in 20 minutes or so.

She snatches the treats: If your dog is a snatcher, or tends to nibble your fingers as she takes the treat, put the treats on the floor at first.Then you can try clicking and presenting your fist with the treat inside it. She may well nibble your fist, she might even paw at it. Ignore her – avoid saying ‘gently’ or anything at all. Let her work out that she needs to back-off and take things nicely. 

 

The INSTANT she moves her head away, open your hand and let her take it. It’s important, though, that this still happens within the 3 second Feel Good time. If it takes longer than that, Clicking and Treating will stop working. Clicking and Treating is about Feel Good – it isn’t about teaching manners. If your dog is a confirmed snatcher, practise delivering treats using this technique, without using the clicker so that the clicker doesn’t start to lose its effect.

She doesn’t seem to be reacting to the sound of the clicker: She may need you to go right back to steps 1 – 10 again. Some dogs can take a while to understand that Click means Treat. Try giving the treat very quickly after the click. Then slow down and leave a small pause between the Click and the treat. Then go back to Click and Quick Treat! Vary it until you can see that she anticipates a treat when she hears the click.

The sound of the clicker scares her. Stop using it and trying making a clicking sound with your tongue, or a squeaky sound with your lips. Be sure, if you do this, that you only use this sound with treats and in the same way that you would use a clicker. You won’t be able to use it for anything else (such as getting her attention) because it will stop working.

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER

If you get these things right, the clicker will always work for your dog. When customers feel the clicker has ‘stopped working’, it’s because they’ve done some of the following:

NEVER USE THE CLICKER TO GET YOUR DOG’S ATTENTION.

The clicker is a signal that the dog has made the right decision. It isn't to get her attention.

ALWAYS GIVE THE TREAT WITHIN 3 SECONDS OF CLICKING.

This is the only way to keep the Click Feeling Good.

ALWAYS FOLLOW A CLICK WITH A TASTY TREAT. EVEN IF YOU CLICKED THE WRONG THING!

If you don’t have any treats, don't use the clicker.

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Fern Ember Dog Behaviour

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