Click your way to a well-behaved pet
Dogs are perhaps the only other species on earth with which we humans share an emotional connect and amazingly enough, these friendly creatures reciprocate our emotions quite well. Apart from being friendly, dogs are also extremely intelligent mammals and are receptive to their surrounding environment.
This is the reason why dogs have never been known to be aggressive towards babies. They have an inherent understanding of age and even disabilities (many visually challenged and autistic people have been helped and loved by dogs into a better life). Dogs are wonderful companions to elderly people as well and behave exceptionally well when they are around aged people.
There have been many studies conducted by researchers on dog psychology and behavior which has helped in our understanding of their mental and emotional capabilities.
Training your dog might not seem necessary at first but if left to themselves, dogs can become wild and unruly since they lack the natural ability to imitate what they see, like human babies. They need different methods of training which include training collars, ‘treat’ method and clicker training method.
Clicker training is one of the best and safest ways to train your loving pets in a way that does not require inflicting any unnecessary pain or psychological damage to them. Dog psychologists recommend this method strongly over other training methods like ‘e-collars’ or spray-collar methods.
What is a clicker?
A clicker is just a tiny device made of plastic or metal that makes a ‘clicking’ noise when you press a button in the middle of it. This device can be held in the palm of your hand and is easy to carry around while doing outdoor training. The main concept behind training with this tool is positive reinforcement using a Pavlov’s classic theory on ‘conditioning response’ by external stimulation (an alarm bell for example).
This technique has been proven to be very effective in case of dogs and the clicker method banks on the success of this technique. When using a clicker, the trainer is supposed to ‘click’ every time the dog exhibits good behavior, following the clicking sound with a treat immediately within a few seconds.
This rewarding technique gives your dog a positive boost towards good behavior. The click should always be followed up with the treat or else your dog will not be able to relate the sound with your appreciation of its behavior.
7 tips to get started with clicker training:
- Get a good-quality clicker device from your nearest pet shop. Make sure it does not make too high or too low a sound. High pitched clicker noises can freak out your dog and low sounds will not give them the necessary impetus.
- Introduce your dog slowly to the device by the ‘catching’ method. In the catching method, you are supposed to make the clicking noise just about every time your dog does something appreciable on his own (without being ordered).
- Make sure you do not forget to give the treats immediately after you make a clicking sound. When your dog starts relating the click to the rewards, then it will reflexively do as told the second it hears the click.
- Always start with using your clicker indoors where there is no external noise or distraction for your dog. When your dog has adapted to the device indoors, ‘promote’ him outdoors and see how it goes.
- ‘Shape’ your dog’s behavior slowly by giving it treats and clicking on the device for every little improvement. For example, when you have ordered your dog to lie down, click and treat when it goes towards the wanted location, and also when it sits down at that place. Keep treating till it has lied down as per your command and then start over again.
- Do not mix clicking method with other forms of training.
- Do not expect your dog to learn tricks overnight. Be patient and cheerful with your dog during the training.