When training it is best to use some sort of reinforcement/reward that is not in the form of food. Many behaviors must be taught through in steps and each step needs to be reinforced immediately to help the dog to understand the process. Clicker Training enables you to reward at the exact moment of success and from a distance where you will not impede the dog.
How do I Clicker Train my dog?
The first part of the process is to “charge” the clicker. At your dog’s next feeding, you will feed him his entire meal from your hand, piece by piece, and every time he receives a kibble, you’ll click. This creates an association in your dogs brain that the click means food. Similar to Pavlov’s dog, your’s will become excited by the click sound. You may need to repeat this a few times before your dog is to the point where he understand what you mean by the click. Be patient, he’ll get it.
Appropriate vs. Inappropriate clicks.
Again, the Clicker is a perfect way to reward on the fly from a distance. Let’s say you’re working on Recalls in your backyard and your dog begins coming to you as soon as you Recall, you can click then to reward the fast reaction, then you can click again when the dog finishes by sitting politely in front of you.
The Clicker is NOT to get your dog’s attention. When your dog is not paying attention, it’s tempting to click to get the dog’s attention, but this is not an appropriate use for the Clicker. Using the Clicker to get attention will un-train your dog from the proper use of the Clicker. For example, let’s imagine that you use the Clicker to get your dog’s attention when he is not listening to you. Now, you are working on a multi-part Parlor Trick and you click to reward the beginning part of the process, but instead of regarding the click as a treat, your dog then switches focus from the task at hand, to you. Now you have not only interrupted a positive training exercise, but lost a valuable tool to help you further your dog’s training.