Welcome to our “Adopt a Dog” Series! This is a new series of articles for new dog adopters. You’ll learn everything you need to know to be an ace first-time dog owner. Check our Resource Center regularly for new articles about dog behavior, training and more!
Did you just adopt a dog and are wondering what clicker training is? Well you’ve come to the right place! Clicker training is a wonderful tool to use after a dog adoption. It employs positive reinforcement, which is ultimately the most humane and effective form of obedience training. So whether you are working on “sit,” “stay” or “come,” clicker training might just be the thing to add to your current obedience training regimen.
Why You Should Clicker Train Your Dog (or Cat!)
Clicker training isn’t complicated. If you want to adopt a dog or just want to “teach an old dog new tricks,” clicker training could be incredibly useful. It’s a kind of positive reinforcement. This is a psychology term. It means you reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. Multiple scientific studies support that positive reinforcement is ultimately more effective than negative reinforcement, which is punishing bad behavior.
In fact, this training method is also effective on cats! Cats are stubborn and may be a little less eager to please you, but many cats respond well to clicker training. The concept is the same: Reward them handsomely for good behavior.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog or Cat
Okay, let’s get to the meat of this article. The first step for clicker training is “charging” your clicker. Don’t worry; you won’t need access to an electrical socket. You do need treats, however. Grab at least 10 small treats. Click the clicker and then feed your pet the treat. Repeat this action at least 10 times. You should see signs that your pooch expects a treat every time you click the clicker. Now you’ve successfully charged your clicker.
Now to teach any commands or tricks, simply say the command and wait for your dog to complete the action. For example, if you say, “Sit,” click your clicker the second your dog’s tush touches the ground. Then immediately reward your pup with a treat.
Having trouble? Stay patient. Keep saying the command and don’t click until the second your dog carries it out. And always reward your pooch with a treat when they successfully complete the action. Consistent rewards will eventually yield consistent behavior from your dog. Try to always have treats on hand. If you don’t have access to treats, however, reward your pup with a toy, praise or snuggles!