Beverly Hills, MI  dog clicker training.

Ever wonder how they get those dogs in the movies to do certain things or perform complex tricks? Sure, most of them are pretty talented pooches, but Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates thinks your pet is talented, too.

Clicker training in dogs is the foundation of many positive reinforcement-based pet training techniques. It works quite well when you understand the basics, and with a little effort, your dog can be a star, too.

Positive Reinforcement

There are two ways to go about training and pet behavior: you can punish your dog for doing naughty or undesirable things, or you can reward them for making good choices. It can be a lot more natural to scold them for getting into the garbage, but it is actually much more effective to reward them for choosing to go lie down in their crate instead.

Positive reinforcement techniques are the foundation of good pet training and help pets to develop a stronger and more reliable response to a stimulus (a stinky garbage can or just about anything else) over time. 

Clicker Training Basics

While positive reinforcement sounds pretty straightforward, it can get a little more difficult to actually put into practice. You probably don’t always have a tasty dog treat on your person to reward your pet, and just how do you get your dog to choose the crate over the garbage can, anyway?

This is where clicker training can come in. By using a dog clicker, you are able to teach your pet that the sound is a marker for a reward. With a little work, they will begin to associate that distinct click with a job well done. 

You can use clicker training to shape a behavior. For instance, maybe your dog approaches the garbage can and sniffs, but then looks away. A well-timed click lets them know that they made the right choice to move away from the trash. As this behavior gets more consistent, you can start to reward a step away and then pair with a command to go to the crate. Eventually, your pet will be choosing the go lie down when they are tempted by your trash.

Clicker training can also help a pet to make positive associations with things that they  are scared of. This is called counter-conditioning. 

Getting Started

When you first start clicker training, it’s important to keep things simple. Have plenty of small, tasty treats that your pet likes, and start in a calm, quiet place. 

When you are ready to start:

  1. Press the clicker then immediately give your pet a small treat. Do not allow anything to delay the time between the click and the treat.
  2. When you feel like your pet has the idea, test them. When they are looking away, click. If your pet looks at you immediately for the treat, you have successfully taught them that the click is a good thing.
  3. You are now ready to teach your dog some tricks. Apply clicker training to some basic commands, using shaping as necessary.
  4. Be sure that you time your clicks as close to the desired behavior as possible to avoid confusion.
  5. Move on to movie-star tricks in no time at all!

Clicker training is a valuable training tool and can help to solve a wide variety of pet behavior issues. If you are having trouble with your pet or need some guidance, please reach out to us. There are definitely some pet problems that require the help of one of our professional staff, and we are happy to help.