Why we Use Clickers
Clicker training is a method we use in our positive training curriculum for our obedience and trick classes at Lucky Mutt Dog Training. We teach the dogs and puppies that the sound of a click means that they did something well. We love the clicker because of its consistency. You could say, "yes" "good job" or "yay." However, the pitch of our voice can change, you might shorten or lengthen the pronunciation of the word, and different people say words differently. Clickers are always the same tone and duration, so your dog or puppy will know right when that click happens that that is the behavior that is rewarded. If you have a deaf dog, we have a paragraph below that talks about an alternative.
Getting your Dog or Puppy Used to the Clicker
Just because you have a clicker and your start clicking it does not mean that your dog or puppy is going to know what that means. We suggest gathering your dog, a clicker and about 10-15 small training sized treats. Then with a clicker in one hand and treats in the other, click the clicker and quickly rewards your dog with a single treat. Repeat this process through all of the treats. Do this a few times throughout the day to get your dog or puppy to understand the concept of the clicker. If you feed kibble, you can replace the treats with their kibble and feed them through training the clicker!
Once your dog or puppy understands that the click means that they did well, it's now the humans turn to work on their timing of the click. If you click too early or too late, your dog will think that you want whatever the behavior is that occurred just before or after the action that you actually wanted. We like to play a game (without the dog in the room) where you drop items on the floor (a tissue, a sock, or a ball), and time it so that you click the clicker as the item hits the ground. This will help you develop your timing so that you can give your dog a perfectly timed click, so that you reward the exact behavior that you're looking for. It might seem like a lot of work, but the more clear we can be in our training, the quicker they will catch on, and more consistent they will be.
Clicker Alternatives for Deaf Dogs
We recently adopted a deaf Australian Cattle Dog/Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy named, Akela. (She doesn't mind if you mispronounce her name). It is has been one of the coolest experiences training this girl, and we have picked up some other methods to replace the clicker for a deaf dog. Be sure to read all of the content above because it all will help you understand the timing of the other methods and why it needs to be taught and timed in certain ways. Akela is highly visual and is always paying attention to our movements. So with Akela, we chose to replace a clicker with a "thumbs up." You can also use a little flashlight! We've experimented with the little keychain flashlights, and like the ones that need to have pressure applied to light up. So then you can do a quick on/off of the flashlight, which can be trained well as a compatible clicker replacement.
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