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Dog Clicker Training

Dog clicker training is so much fun for both dogs and people that the training part just slips in! Dog clicker training gets the dog to figure out what you want, making it an enjoyable game.

This wonderful, cruelty-free method is revolutionizing dog training!

Have you tried it yet? It's quite easy to learn at a basic level, and once you and your dog get the habit, it can be used for many enjoyable tricks as well as for all the essentials of training. Clickers are inexpensive and widely available at pet stores and on the internet.

Here's how you might do a short dog clicker training session (and short sessions work best for the dogs' learning):

1. You have a clicker in your hand, and some small treats in a pocket or nearby. The treats can be small pieces of dry dog food, commercial dog treats, tiny pieces of cheese, or anything you know your dog likes to eat. You have chosen what you are going to train for this session... let's say it's "sit."

2. Your dog wanders over, for whatever reason. He happens to lift his head up, and you click the clicker and give him a treat.

3. Now you've got his attention. Let's say he happens to sit. You immediately click and give him a large "jackpot" treat because he's done exactly what you want -- even though he didn't know you wanted it.

4. After some more rewards when he happens to do something that is either the behavior you want or part of it, he gets the idea that yummy treats come when he does certain things. He may offer you a variety of behaviors. Just reward the ones that you want in this context.

5. If he doesn't sit because he is too excited by the treats, you could hold a treat over his head, so far back that he would sit (or even make a motion toward sitting) and then you could click that. Try to click at the very moment that he does what you want.

Once he definitely has the idea that sitting brings a treat (which might be more than one session), you can begin to use the word "sit" -- timing it so you say it just before you think he is about to sit. He still does the sitting because in his mind, sitting and treats are connected, but after he has heard the word 'sit" in that context enough times, he'll get the idea.

This is exactly how I trained my Basenji to sit in the first week we had her as a puppy. It was the first time I had trained a dog to sit without endlessly shoving on its rear -- and it got me hooked on dog clicker training!

Clicker training is a relatively new method for working with dogs. Dolphin trainer Karen Pryor began using the process with dogs. It has rapidly spread in popularity as its effectiveness has been proven -- with young puppies, with "problem dogs," with countless dogs in a great variety of situations. It's based solidly on scientific principles of how animals learn.

Rosana Hart is a longtime dog owner who has clickers and little bags of treats in several rooms of her house and in a bunch of her jackets. Her dogs think that they have trained her! You can find out more about clicker training and about other pain-free, positive dog training methods at her website http://www.training-dogs.com.

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