A Clicker May Help or Hinder Your Training

A clicker can help speed along your dog training.  It essentially becomes a communication tool for you and your dog.  It tells your dog when it's done something right and can get a reward.

It allows you, as the trainer, to break up complicated tasks into smaller building blocks for your dog and then "chaining" them all together to make a seamless performance.

They can sometimes make training more complicated.  If you can watch yourself train your dog, you might notice little cues you give your dog before you actually "click." Something small like just reaching for a treat or lifting your hand, will tell the dog the click is coming before you actually do and your dog will look for that cue instead of hearing it.

Dogs are masters at reading body language and facial expressions.  They pick up the smallest details in our bodies.

Sometimes I think it just adds an extra step to the training process.  Instead of praising your dog, you click your dog and then praise or treat your dog.

Since I was first introduced to them in the nineties, I have since seen several different designs developed.  They started out as little rectangular boxes and now some of them look like a key fob for a vehicle.

Using one requires a whole new skill set.  Your timing has to be impeccable; you will have to juggle it, the treats and your leash, all at the same time.  And…a target stick too.

If you don't have one handy, there are other "markers" you can use with your dog.  You will have to go through with "charging" it up, but that shouldn't take too long.

A clicky -pen works, but the sounds are inconsistent.  It could work in a pinch if you're really in a bind.

Anything that makes a quick, short, sharp sound can be used.  Some options are a verbal yes.  It's quicker and sharper than good or good dog.  It's more exciting too. 

Whistles are the marker used in dolphin training and can easily be used for dog training.  You must practice your consistency in blowing at the right tone and length.  If you're a referee, it might come naturally to you.

Although it’s a very useful tool, it can be used incorrectly.  Pointing it at your dog like a remote gives more of a “hand signal” command rather than a sound marker.  “Calling” your dog with it may work a few times, but it’s not really what it was designed to do.

Timing is critical, even though dogs and the method are forgiving.  Extinguishing a behavior is sometimes more difficult than training one.

Having the wristband accessory helps keep it close to your hand, but it may be hard to grab at times.

Also, a treat bag to clip to your belt or waist is necessary.  You will have your treats easily dispensable when you start training.

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