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Back in the day, I used to bring my Italian Greyhound, Bean, to dog training classes religiously. At first because I didn’t see my timid, shaky, growly rescue pup as being able to have a quality life with out help from professionals. I was unprepared for how this positive training method was quickly going to become a huge part of our lives, for training, and for straight up fun!
What is Clicker Training?
Wikipedia defines Clicker training as “a method for training animals that uses positive reinforcement such as a food treat, along with a clicker or small mechanical noisemaker to mark the behavior being reinforced. When training a new behavior, the clicker helps the animal to quickly identify the precise behavior that results in the treat.”
I can sum it up for you: Clicker training is catching your dog doing something right. You use a clicker to mark a behavior you like, such as sitting. When the dog’s butt hits the floor, you click and give the dog a treat. The click is very precise. Each time the dog’s butt hits the floor, he gets rewarded. Very quickly the dog realizes that click = treat. Once this connection is made, I predict happy faces and waggly butts every time the clicker and treat bag make an appearance.
For example, I recently began clicker training my own four dogs again, after a fourteen year whirlwind of raising babies, building my pet grooming business, and generally just forgetting to train my own dogs! I have been training them for three days, just ten minutes a couple times a day for each dog. That’s it! But already, when they see the training bag come out, they are lined up and fighting over who gets to go first! (I always train them one at a time, away from the others, but more on that later.)
This training method works for all personality types!
I have four dogs, one Pomeranian who thinks she is a border collie with her intensity, one who is a dainty princess who needs to be babied, one rescue who’s confidence needs to be built with very careful, positive reinforcement, and a gawpy bull mastiff who thinks body slamming should be an Olympic sport. Clicker training works with them all.
I have been using the Click Stik for all of my dogs. It is a telescoping target stick- you teach them to touch the green ball on the end. Once they have that behavior, you can use it to teach all sorts of other behaviors. I like it for my poms because they are short, and this way I don’t have to bend over every time to treat them. And I like it for my bullmastiff because he is super slobbery and tends to get rough when he gets excited. Using the click stick keeps him away from my body and helps control that enthusiasm.
I invite you to try clicker training, too! Here is a wonderful starter kit with everything you need, including an informative DVD. You’ll notice a difference with your dog in a few short sessions! Have a new puppy? Try the Puppy Starter Kit Plus, geared for your new family member!
Also, if you want to read about my training journey with my own dogs, and maybe train along with me, click the upper right menu to subscribe to Shiny Healthy Dogs Updates.(Scroll down if you are on mobile) I plan on adding a category called Clicker Training Diaries so you can follow along! Cheers!