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Learn about Clicker Training a Dog

By John Singleson TEXT SIZE Minus Plus

If you are looking to train your dog you might consider using the 'clicker training' method, which has recently become popular amongst dog trainers all over the country. In this method the trainer has to make use of a clicker, a tiny plastic box with a metal button which makes a distinctive click sound once the button has been pressed. The training method is simple and is in many ways parallel to the positive training method. Here is what you have to do. Decide on a certain behavior which you want to teach or reinforce your dog to do. A number of behaviors/actions come naturally to the dog like sitting, eating, standing, barking etc. and these need just to be reinforced so that your dog knows when you want him to do what. Various other actions like acting dead, shaking hands, rolling over etc. do not come naturally to the dog and need to be taught. Clicker training can be used to do both.

Clicker training works according to the basic principles of operant conditioning, by associating the sound of the clicker with a food item which the dog particularly likes. Now all you have to do is use the clicker to command the dog to do something, the dog, given that he associates the sound of the clicker with the food, immediately obliges and the training is complete.

Let us take an example to illustrate the method better, suppose you want to teach your dog to sit, you put a cookie on your dog's nose playfully and then move it upwards, the dog will obviously follow the movement of the biscuit with its nose and will then naturally rest its posterior on the floor, thereby putting himself in a sitting position. Now time your clicking to be so accurate as to occur right as the dog seats himself, now give him the biscuit and praise him. Continue doing this for sometime till the dog begins to associate the clicking with the food until the click makes him sit without you luring him with treats. Now teach him another behavior, but remember to attach the clicking cue only once the animal himself offers you the behavior otherwise the clicking will not be connected to anything in the dog's head and he will be confused regarding what it means.

Your dog is one smart little animal and it's time you gave him due credit for that. A number of trainers have been known to use negative reinforcement techniques alongside the clicker method but this simply doesn't work because punishment at all times creates a number of unwanted behavior even if it serves the primary purpose of teaching the dog to not do something temporarily.

Any kind of training is a strenuous and rigorous process and needs time and patience. Although clicker training method has a high success rate it might not work for certain types of dogs, if you see that it's not working for your pet you would be well advised to use some other technique to teach it tricks.

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