Clicker training is rapidly becoming more and more popular with animal behaviourists and dog trainers everywhere. It focuses on positive reinforcement or rewarding good behavior as opposed to punishing undesirable behavior. In other words, it is a fast and easy way of letting your pet know it has done something right! Because we have conversations with our pets, individual words can lose their value to a pet but the “click” is a distinct consistent sound used only to mark correct behavior. Also, the “click” sound travels well letting you identify correct behaviours in your pet from a distance.
The first step in using a clicker with your pet is to assign value to the “click” sound. You do this by pairing it with food. This is surprisingly easy to do. While watching TV, sit down with the clicker and a container of food treats for your pet. Place the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other. Sound the clicker and open your hand to allow the pet to take the treat. Don’t talk. If the pet doesn’t take the treat, toss it on the floor and start again. Do this numerous times varying the amount of time between clicks. Always have the food ready in your hand before clicking. Repeat this exercise several times until the pet will come to you when he or she hears the click. You can test this by waiting until the pet is distracted then click – if your pet turns to you then he or she has learned the significance of the clicker and you are ready to start training!
Next on Cricket’s Corner – “The Name Game”