Dog Clicker Training: How to Get Started & Where to Look for Your Own!

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dog doing clicker training with person outside in the snow

If you own a dog and haven’t heard of, or tried, clicker training, we would like to ask you to come out from under that rock! From dog trainers to marine mammal trainers, everyone agrees that this method of positive reinforcement training is an extremely effective training technique!

Read on to learn more about how clicker training works and some of the fun things you can teach your puppy!

Why Positive Reinforcement Training is the Most Effective Method of Dog Training!  

It makes complete sense that animal training done in a fun and positive way makes animals WANT to obey your commands. With positive reinforcement training, the main concept is to reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior. When you ask your dog to do something, and they do it: they get a delicious treat and a ton of verbal praise.

Shouting, yelling, smacking and physically pushing your dog into a position is a very bad idea. This translates as you dominating your dog and forcing it into submission. You MIGHT get them to do what you want them to. But they will do it out of fear and without trust.

Whether you want to teach your dog obedience training or fun tricks: positive reinforcement is the way to go. Clicker training is one of the most powerful tools in a trainer’s arsenal. It should be in yours too!

How Clicker Training Works

The concept of a clicker is simple: you give your dog a verbal cue or hand signal asking them to do something. The SECOND they do it, you press the clicker and reward them with food and praise.

Sure, you can train a dog with treats and praise without the clicker, but it will take longer for them to understand the exact moment they did the thing you asked them to.

Let’s take for example when you want to teach your dog to sit. You’ll hold a treat slightly above a dog’s nose until they sit down. They might sit down and get back up again or lie down and roll over.

If you press the clicker the second their bum touches the floor, and repeat this process, it will be easy for them to figure out when they did the right thing.

Before you start teaching Fido to do the Can-Can: they need to learn how the clicker works. They love this part of the process. Click sound = treat. You click and reward and repeat it until they understand that the click sound means they get a treat.

Once they know that click = treat, you can start the actual training.

happy collie doing dog clicker training with its human

4 Benefits of Training Sessions with Your ESA

There are wonderful benefits to training with your dog apart from the obvious obedience aspect of it. Here are some you might not have thought of:

A Well Behaved ESA is a Welcome ESA

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) have legal protection under 2 Federal Laws.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) ensures that ESA owners are not discriminated against by landlords when they are looking for rented accommodation with their ESA. The second law is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law states that airlines must allow people with disabilities to fly with their emotional support animal free of charge.

Misbehaved, untrained, and “aggressive” (scared) ESAs give these assistance animals a bad reputation. If an ESA displays any disruptive, destructive or aggressive behavior, the law no longer protects or applies to them.

Fun for Everyone: Training Does Not Have to Be a Serious Affair

Training can be fun. Unless you want to compete in dog shows or pass a training course, you can make these training sessions pure fun. The sky is the limit when it comes to clicker training! It isn’t all “sit”, “down” and “stay”.

You will make mistakes. Your dog will make mistakes. Enjoy the time together and laugh at yourself. And at your goofball of course!

Mental Stimulation Wears Dogs Our Faster Than Physical Exercise! 

Many, many pet owners underestimate the value of using mental stimulation and training sessions to wear out their dogs. 5-10 minutes of intensive training sessions broken up into short stints are as draining as an outing to the dog park is. If not more.

Think about it. If someone tells you to sit-stay-down-rollover-getup-stick’emupbang-weave-sit-leftspin… for minutes at a time: your brain would be pretty drained too.

Bonding Time!

We cannot stress this enough: Training with your dog, regardless of the type of training, brings you two closer. Most pet parents go to work and don’t have a lot of time to spend with their furkids. Training is an amazing opportunity to give your dog your undivided attention. They LOVE one-on-one time with their humans!

young puppy learning to give paw with clickers

Obedience Aside, Here are Some of the Most Fun Dog Tricks to Teach Your Dog

Here are some of our absolute favorite clicker training tricks. And remember: the goal here is to work together and have fun.

Beer Me!: Next time you have guests over, you can simply say “beer me”, and your dog goes to the fridge, opens it, takes out a can of beer and brings it to you. (Just remember to teach them to close the fridge again afterward!)

Stitck’em Up, BANG!: With the first part, you aim a finger gun at your dog. They sit on their haunches with their paws in the air. When you say BANG, they fall over and “play dead”. This is a really fun trick, and not too serious because most dogs keep wagging their tails once they are “dead”.

Bend the Knee: This one is for the geeks. Any Game of Thrones fan knows this phrase well. Most people know it as “Bow Down”, but “Bend the Knee” has a better ring to it!

Fly!: Many trainers (or simply pet owners) use clickers to train dogs in agility. “Fly” is the same as the “vault” command. We highly recommend that you only do this with small dogs. So as not to break your back. You start small. Crouch down on the ground (basically the “Child’s pose” in yoga), and teach your small doggie to run up from behind and jump off your back. The end goal is that your dog will jump onto and then off of your back when you are in a more or less upright position. Well, you’d be leaning forward slightly, but you get the idea.

Figure of 8, Weave and Spin: These are great fun when you string them all together. Your dog weaves in and out of your legs as you walk forwards (or backward). Then guide them to do a figure of 8 around your legs and end it off with some left spins and right spins. All you need now is a soundtrack, and your two “man” show has lift-off!

Not Just for Dogs! Other Weird and Wonderful Animals That Have Been Clicker Trained

Sheep. Chickens. Cows. Horses. Donkies. The list is very long. If an animal is trainable, you can clicker train them. Marine mammals, dogs, cats, you can use a clicker to train them all! There are many trainers who use clicker training on big cats like lions, cheetahs, and tigers!

Where to Find a Clicker for Fido (or Fifi)

You can find dog training clickers just about anywhere that sells pet swag! You can go to your local pet store, but everyone knows: shopping online is easier.

Here are Some of Our Top Picks

EcoCity Dog Training Clicker: Clickers are like hair-tyes. You lose them all the time. Luckily this offer includes an educational eBook, 4 clickers with straps, and a LIFETIME Warranty. Yes, yes, you can’t return something you’ve lost, but if you take good care of it it won’t break. Score.

EcoCity Upgrade Version Dog Training Clicker
EXCLUSIVE: Dog Training eBook, an informative pdf sent via email with every order. A brand new happy communication mode with the pet. Great for training puppies and young adult dogs!
Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Buy on Amazon

 

LaZimnInc Dog Training Clicker: Most clickers are similar. This package consists of 2 clickers: one white, one blue. Although you technically only need one clicker, it is very useful to keep one in your car and one in your home. Possibly another in your bag? Remember: You can use the clicker any time you see your dog exhibiting good behavior. To do that, you have to have a clicker on you so that they know exactly what it is that earns them the click. (Read “treat and praise”).

LaZimnInc Dog Training Clicker with Wrist Strap
Easy to use training clicker in any position, fits in the palm of your hand. Can be used to train the dog basic obedience, small trick, and correct the bad behavior; Scientific method of training your pet safely and easily.
Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Buy on Amazon

image of a green training clicker with blue strap

It’s Been Tried and Tested: Clicker Training is a Great Method of Positive Reinforcement Training! 

Clicker training works. It works well and there’s something in it for everyone. You get to teach your dog cool stuff (and of course obedience), and they get your undivided attention, treats and a massive confidence boost.

Give it a go!

Common Questions on Dog Clicker Training

Can I clicker train my cat?

Where can I find a clicker?

Is clicker training only for obedience? 

What are the most fun clicker tricks for dogs?

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