How to Install a Dog Training Clicker.

We have all heard of Pavlov's dogs - Pavlov rang a bell shortly before giving his dogs food and by the end of his experiment, after the bell was conditioned, the dogs were salivating at the sound of the bell without food following. 

Pavlovian conditioning, also known as classical conditioning, is what is utilised when we install a clicker in our dogs. The goal is to elicit a rewarding response, a dopamine release, within our dogs when they hear the sound of the dog clicker.

Essentially, we want our dogs to learn clicker = reward. This association can help accelerate your dogs learning of a behaviour or skill and help your overall communication and clarity, as your dog will offer or repeat behaviours that are followed with a click (also known as a conditioned reinforcer or marker) to receive a reward.

How Do I Install a Dog Training Clicker in my Dog?

1. Get a handful of treats and put them in your pocket. Have your dog clicker handy. 

2. When your dogs are in release mode, meaning they have not been told to do a behaviour such as sit or drop and are simply just hanging out, press the clicker so that it makes the click sound. This should be immediately followed by a reward, such as a food treat. 

3. Continue this action of 'clicking' then immediately rewarding your dog. Remember, we are not rewarding any behaviours at this stage - your clicks should be random and at spaced out intervals. Aim for around 20-30 minutes between each click whilst your dog is learning. 

4. As you continue training, you will notice that what once was a noise in the background for your dogs, now gets their attention and boosts arousal.

5. Once you feel that your dog has a strong reaction, such as stopping anything they are doing and turning to face you, drooling, or coming to you to receive a reward after the click has occurred you can now implement this into your training. 

What Does a Dog Clicker Look Like When Training?

A clicker is very easy to incorporate into your training, and is almost guaranteed to make training faster, easier, and more clear for your dogs. Your clicker should be used any time your dog exhibits a behaviour that gets them closer to your end goal, or a behaviour you want to strengthen.

A clear example of how you can use the dog training clicker in your training is with a 'sit' behaviour. 

When first teaching your dog the sit, we want to mark (click) and reward any behaviours that progress to the end goal. This means any time your dog puts their bum down into a sit position you will click the clicker and deliver a reward (a piece of food). By doing this, you are clearly communicating to your dog that what they just did was a desired behaviour and by offering something rewarding to your dog, they are more likely to repeat this behaviour. 

If you have any questions or want to have a chat about dog clicker training please feel free to reach out - we LOVE talking all things dog training! As always, use this information as a guide but always engage a professional dog trainer should you need further help.