An introduction to pet clicker training

Posted by Argos. September 24th 2014.

When it comes to training your pet, there are a variety of methods you can try. One popular method that many owners have had success with is clicker training.

Mostly associated with dog training, it can also be ideal for training your cat, rabbit or even your horse! It is a tried and tested method that many animal experts use and the best part is – it’s actually pretty simple.

Dog with clicker tool

Below you’ll discover everything you need to know about this reliable training aid.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is a great form of positive training. Rather than telling your pet off when they do something wrong, it focuses on rewarding them for doing something right. The sound of the clicker tool starts to become associated with a reward; in most cases this is a food treat, though it could include a toy if you prefer.

Clicker vs voice training

While voice training can be extremely effective, it does have potential downsides. The way that you sound will influence how much your pet actually listens to you.

If you sound excited, it can cause the animal to become more excited. This means they will want to play, not follow commands. Similarly, if you sound stressed, the animal will become stressed and again they won’t feel like listening to you.

A clicker helps to keep the training sessions calm and less distracting. Obviously you will still be using your voice to give the commands. However, you could choose to use hand signals rather than voice commands if you find this easier. Think about sheepdog training and other professional dog agility classes for inspiration on what works!

A dog jumping up to its owner

Making it work

In theory, click training is incredibly simple. However, there are a few things you need to take into account before you begin:

  • It is really important that you use the clicker as soon as your pet does something right; this should be immediately followed up by a treat.
  • If you wait too long to give the treat after the click, your pet won’t associate the two together so resist the urge to praise them vocally before you’ve given the click and treat.
  • Before you start giving commands, get your pet used to the clicker by making sure you’re in a quiet place before using it and giving your pet a treat.
  • One of the easiest commands to start with once they are used to the clicker is getting them to touch something – it could be a ball or the mat but as soon as they do it, click and give them the treat.
  • You can give them the click and treat before they actually reach the target because you’re focusing on shaping their behaviour.

Clicker training is extremely effective and simple to do. The key to any type of training is to be patient and calm. It will take a while for your pet to associate the clicker with a reward so don’t become frustrated if they aren’t picking it up straight away. Keep the training sessions short and build up to more difficult commands over time and you’ll see great results.

Clickers can be picked up from most pet stores or online. They are inexpensive and could potentially help you to eliminate bad behaviour.

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