Prepare a large quantity of tiny (bean-sized), easily handled, delicious treats. Healthy treats are important as you will likely give 50-100 per day. Click here to learn which foods are dangerous. You may need to meal size to compensate for an increase in calories. Not sure which treats are best? Ask us!
Think of your clicker as having an ‘uncharged battery’
Before ‘charging’ the clicker, its sound has no significance—it might sound interesting at first, but interest fades when a click is followed by nothing of consequence. Transform your clicker into a powerful training tool by ‘charging’ its ‘battery’ by consistent pairing of each click with a treat. Once your dog forms a strong association between the click and the treat, she will anticipate and will soon learn to act in ways she thinks will cause you to click. Once this happens, you can use the clicker to begin training!
Do this first if your dog is sound sensitive
If your dog is sound-sensitive, muffle it’s sound by wrapping it in a towel or having a helper click from another room. It’s infinitely easier to begin this way than scaring your dog with the sound first, then trying to repair the damage later.
Charging the clicker
With your dog within hearing distance, click once. Now, reach for the treat, toss it to her or let her eat one from your hand. Wait several moments and repeat.
Potential Power Loss: Don’t sabotage your hard work!
If you click during or after reaching for the treat, the sound of the click is masked rather than charged. The click gains significance only when it functions as a predictor of something of interest to your dog. To be a predictor, the sound must come before the item of interest. If the click is heard during the process of giving the treat—for example, while reaching for the treat—it loses its status as predictor and becomes merely something that occurs at the same time. If you reach for your treat before or as you are clicking, your dog will learn to disregard the click and the clicker will lose it’s power as an effective training tool.
Hot Tip: Use the same hand for clicking and treating
Once you click, let the clicker drop, dangling from your wristband as you reach for and toss the treat. Once you are confident you have developed muscle memory and trust yourself to click before reaching for the treat, you can graduate to using both hands.
Another Hot Tip: Say your first name silently to yourself before reaching for the treat/bag
Doing so will train your brain to click and treat sequentially.
Three Foot Rule
Don’t click too close to those furry ears or the sound will be intense. Do it to your own ears to see how loud it is. Ouch! Too loud!
Maintain the charge
Continue to click then treating process twenty times a day for several days.
How you know you got it right
Once you have done enough correct repetitions, you your dog will ‘alert’ and look up expectantly for the treat at the click. At this point your clicker will be ‘charged’ and ready for use in training.
When first starting, your dog may not notice when you click. If this happens, do NOT click again. Instead, place the treat under her nose. Assuming you are using appealing treats, your dog will look for a treat when you click.
Avoid Power Loss: Follow each and every click with a treat
Clicking without treating will deplete your clicker’s ‘battery,’ losing its power as an effective training tool.