Some do’s and don’ts:
- If you click, you must reward. Even the odd accidental click must be rewarded.
- Clicker sessions should be short and often. Three ten minutes training sessions a day are better than one thirty minute session. It is said that ten minutes of clicker training provides a similar amount of mental stimulus for your dog as thirty minutes of exercise does!
- Train in a quiet environment. You need your dog to focus on you and the clicker. Oh, and of course their treats!
- Timing is the key. Click at the very beginning of the behaviour, not after it is complete.
- Clicker training takes small steps to achieve the best results. Start with the basic movements and develop them into the final behaviour.
- Take your time getting the behaviour right and well practiced before moving on to using verbal cues or hand gestures.
- As your dog develops and gets to know a behaviour, increase the expectation upon them. When your dog has learnt to sit on command, only click and reward the best sitting posture – ignore the lazy, half sitting efforts.
- If you feel that your dog is not progressing very quickly, or just not getting it, check the timing of your clicks. Be accurate when marking the behaviour and be sure not to leave it too late. Remember, it’s when you see your dog decide they want to move for the behaviour, not after they have finished.
- Vary your training location. Only when you have mastered a command in your favourite spot, try it in a different place. Your dog needs to know that sit means sit wherever you are, not just in the garden or in the kitchen.
- Remember that dog clicker training is all about rewarding good behaviour. Do not shout or get mad at your dog if it doesn’t go right. Be patient and repeat as many times as it takes. Always use positive reinforcement.
Some things to avoid:
- Try to keep the treats out of site while training, unless luring a behaviour. A reward only appears after a click.
- Don’t click when you get bored! Only click when marking a behavour, otherwise your dog won’t associate it with the behaviour you are trying to achieve.
- Don’t get angry with your dog when they can’t do it. Avoid dragging them into position by their collar, just be patient and gradually your dog will get the idea. Lure them into a better position before clicking and they’ll understand what to do for their reward.