There is an old saying that goes, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink ‘. I reckon that if the person who coined this phrase had used a clicker to train their horse, they would have had that animal drinking no problem! Clicker training is fast becoming the preferred method of training dogs but it is also a fun and effective way to train any animal from rabbits to parrots.
Clicker training taps into an animal’s natural desire for a reward. In the case of dogs this can be treat or praise, but for all other animal’s clicker training only works when there is a food reward involved. It is effective because it is based on a positive reward system rather than punishment.
The clicker itself is just a small plastic box that when compressed makes a consistent click sound. This sound is always the same. Training should always be in short sharp sessions, no more than 5 minutes and somewhere that your dog is comfortable and relaxed without distraction. To start with you have to help your pet understand the link between the clicking sound and the food reward. To do this you simply press the clicker and then when you have the dog’s attention give it a treat. The method is applied for clicker training any animal. Make sure that the treat is really desirable and only use it for training.
Good treats include:
Fit ‘n’ Flash dried chicken breast
Fit ‘n’ Flash dried fish fillets (great for cats)
Next add a command such as sit and the moment the dog sits click the clicker and give a treat. Unlike vocal praise like ‘good boy’, which can vary depending on who is doing the training , the clicker is always consistent. Pretty soon your pet will work out that when the clicker makes noise a positive reward is coming. Only click when you get the behaviour you want and then reinforce this this same command over several sessions before moving on to avoid confusion.
Over time start to give treats intermittently until eventually it’s just the click and then just the command. It will take time and persistence but any pet can be trained by using clicker.