As you might have read in my last blog, I recently went to the national dog training conference put on by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. It left me wanting to try lots of new things, one of them being a clicker.
I have never been one for clicker training, as I think it is somewhat difficult to have yet another thing in my hands and, also, I’m not the best with my timing. Thus, why I wanted to try the clicker. It will help me with my own timing as well as my ability to teach others when it is appropriate to mark and then reward any given behavior. I have been trying the clicker with my own dog, Eddy. If I make a mistake with him, I’ve only ruined my own dog and haven’t caused any harm to anyone else.
The first thing one must do when clicker training is reinforce the sound. In other words, you must click and reward the dog for doing nothing. All you are doing is conditioning the click and getting the dog to associate food with the sound so that you won’t always need food when clicking.
The only thing I didn’t think about at first was that Eddy might be afraid of the sound. The first time I used the clicker I put it behind my back to muffle the sound, but he was still not happy about it. Mind you, he took the treats I was giving him, but he wasn’t comfortable, so I switched to a clicky pen. That seemed to work well for about two days, and then I reverted to the clicker behind my back. Eddy was definitely more comfortable. I have been conditioning the clicker for about a week, and now when he sees the clicker he gets very excited (which is what you want). So I haven’t had a chance to do any actual training with the clicker yet, but stay tuned – I’ll make sure to have some fun clicker stories on my future blogs.