Having become a classic among the various educational methods, clicker training has nowadays proved its worth. If you have tried many methods to try to train your dog, but he continues to lie down when you tell him to “sit”, or he ignores you when you call him by the foot, it may be time to try out the clicker, a small box that doesn’t look good, but which has proven in many hopeless cases that you should never give up, but just find the right method.
The clicker, what is it?
The clicker is a small box that fits in the pocket. Usually made of plastic, inside this case there is a metal tab, which produces a neutral sound when pressed, and above all which always remains the same, which will not allow any confusion during the education of the dog.
The clicker will simply be a means of communication with your dog. The sound produced by this small box will be associated, through practice, with something positive for your companion, such as a treat for a moment of play or simply congratulations accompanied by caresses. This is called positive education.
There are three methods of clicker education, all working in a specific way but always in a positive way, we will not seek with clicker training to scare the dog or to frustrate him, but on the contrary so that he knows that what he is doing is right and to encourage him to reoffend. He will therefore not take the action requested by constraint, but on his own, with the expectation of a positive reward.
The three methods of clicker education
Here are the three methods of educating clicker training:
The shaping or shaping method
The shaping method is a step-by-step method that will get your dog to think about what you ask of him on his own.
The principle is simple: you will ask him to do something, and you will press your clicker each time he gets closer to the end goal by congratulating him, and give him a reward once the goal is reached. It is a principle of hot / cold.
Let’s take a concrete example: you want him to stretch out his paw to you. To achieve this end result, he will have to start by sitting down, a first click and a congratulation when he achieves this result.
The next step will be to lift the paw, if only slightly, a new click when it does, and so on until it finally extends its paw to you, which you will then do. one click and give it a treat.
With this method, your dog will gradually understand what you are asking him to do, step by step.
The capturing method
Capturing is a fairly original method, but it really works. It is especially useful for dogs that are a little restless, who may not necessarily have the patience to follow the other methods.
The principle of capturing is to use what your dog will do with himself to teach him.
For example, you want to teach your dog to sit on command. Each time he tries himself, without your having given him the order, a click of the clicker and a treat. Over time, he will therefore associate the sound of the clicker with the order “sit”, and the reward that comes when he performs the requested action.
The lure or luring method
The decoy method is certainly the most simplistic of the three, but it is no less effective.
This involves training the dog to do an action using a treat, and to mark the moment when he performs the requested action using the clicker.
Let’s assume that you want to teach your dog to lie down. Show him a treat, then bring it to the ground, without letting go. The dog, instinctively, will lie down to quite simply get to the level of the latter and be able to put it in his mouth. When your dog is lying on the ground, give him the treat while pressing the tab of the clicker. Little by little, the dog will associate the click with the associated action, and its reward.
Why use the clicker to educate your dog?
The main advantage of the clicker is that it is an education method that can be applied to all types of dogs, whether they are fussy dogs because they are restless, or those who tend to be aggressive because of a complicated past. You will not have to touch the dog which will prevent you from taking risks.
In addition, for aggressive dogs, this will gradually help to appease them, and to acclimatize them to a normal life with a family. The clicker training being a method of positive education, the dog will never undergo the stress of a punishment or a cry to calm him, everything will be done with the clicker.
The clicker is also very useful on a walk, the noise that the box makes being very distinct and singular, the dog will understand the requested order even if he is far from you.
As you have seen, clicker training is not an educational method like any other. This is a very specific way of proceeding, which can take more or less time depending on the character, age and background of the dog, but it is a method that has undeniably proven its worth. Now it’s up to you to try the experiment if you feel like it, and above all to make good use of it.
Photo credit: MTSOfan