- April Schrader, CPDT-KA
Top Mistakes to Avoid When Clicker Training Your Dog
As a dog trainer, I have seen many people make common mistakes when it comes to clicker training their dogs. Here are some tips to avoid these mistakes and ensure successful clicker training:
Firstly, it's crucial to use the clicker consistently. This means clicking every time your dog performs the desired behavior. For example, if you're training your dog to come when called, you should click the moment they start running towards you. If you're inconsistent with your clicking, your dog may become confused about what behavior is being rewarded and what isn't, which can slow down the training process.
Secondly, timing is everything in clicker training. You need to click at the exact moment your dog performs the desired behavior. If you click too early or too late, your dog may not make the association between the behavior and the reward. So, for example, if you're training your dog to shake hands, you should click the moment their paw touches your hand not when they pull away.
It's also essential to reward the right behavior. For example, if you're teaching your dog to sit, you should reward them for sitting and not for lying down. Rewarding your dog for similar but incorrect behavior can be confusing for them and slow down the training process.
Different dogs have different motivations, so it's important to adjust the rewards you use based on your dog's individual needs. For example, some dogs may be more motivated by their kibble, and other dogs may need a much higher value reward such as boiled chicken. Experiment with different food rewards to find out what works best for your dog.
Finally, it's also important not to overuse the clicker. The clicker should only be used to mark and reward specific behaviors. Clicking the clicker without following up with a reward can also be confusing for your dog and slow down the training process. Also remember, every time you click the clicker, your dog should receive a reward even if it was an accident. This will reinforce the behavior you're trying to train and help your dog learn faster. Overusing the clicker can cause your dog to become desensitized to the sound, which can make it less effective as a training tool.
By avoiding these common mistakes and focusing on positive reinforcement, you can successfully clicker train your dog and build a stronger bond with them. As a dog trainer, I have seen firsthand the benefits of clicker training and encourage all dog owners to give it a try.