Getting Started With A Clicker, For Newbies

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by tigerlily46514, Jun 18, 2012.


Do you use a clicker to train your dog?

Yes! 25 vote(s) 80.6%
Not yet, but i want to learn how to use one or am thinking about trying a clicker 5 vote(s) 16.1%
No 1 vote(s) 3.2%
  1. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I am no expert on clicker training, i am just posting this as something i can link for newbies to clicker training.
    I HOPE VERY MUCH THAT OTHERS WILL CONTRIBUTE their own info, tips, and other links for newbies to clicker training.:D

    THE CONCEPT is simple----
    Mark/reward what you DO like, with a CLICK/TREAT.:D
    One can also click and reward attempts in right direction, too, and build upon that.
    ignore wrong moves from the dog. No scolding, no 'corrections' are involved at all, not even the word "no". Wrong moves get the dog silence, no treat.

    That's it, in a nutshell!:D

    THE DOG!!
    If training is NOT fun, you are doing it wrong.:ROFLMAO:

    A clicker is a small gizmo which makes "click" noise, to mark "YES! THAT'S IT!" to the dog. You can buy these online, or at any petstore. If you get a LOUD box-shaped clicker, you may want to add piece of tape to soften the sound a bit, in case you click by dog's head. You can attach clickers to stretchy coil keychains and keep it on wrist during training.

    EVERY click gets a reward, no exceptions. (even if you click wrong thing by accident) If you accidentally click wrong move, just ignore the dog offering that again (and again:rolleyes: ), til he stops offering that.

    You click ONE (1) time for a correct move,
    as a way of saying "YES!! THAT'S IT!":D
    but you can give multiple treats for a "breakthough" moment. These moments, when dog does very well, and gets more than one treat for doing SO GREAT, are called "jackpots". I think giving multiple small treats, one after the other, while praising the dog, means more to some dogs than just a bigger size treat, imo.

    Timing is important.
    One tries to click during the move,
    or sometimes, towards last moment of the move,
    not after the move is done.
    The treat should come within a moment after the click.

    "Loading the clicker"
    This is a ONE TIME exercise ONLY for dogs new to clickers, that the dog remembers for life.:ROFLMAO: Just click the clicker, wait a few seconds and give a treat. Repeat several times. Dog QUICKLY learns "click = treat".
    A few hours later, or next day, repeat this session.
    To check if your dog is ready, click the clicker, if he looks to you for a treat, you are done "loading" the clicker, the dog now understands.:D

    After this, you can begin to teach a trick, and from now on, you only will click during correct moves,
    or for attempts in right direction.

    AFTER the dog SOLIDLY knows the trick, you fade the click,
    and then fade the treats. I typically fade out treats slowly, and insert praise only instead. like "treat, treat, praise only, treat, praise, praise, treat, praise, treat, praise" and just make it random as i fade it out.

    You will NOT have to click the dog doing that trick for his whole life,:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
    just click while he is learning the trick.
    There is NO harm in continuing to click too long, but, stopping the clicks or rewards too soon can mess up some dogs progress.

    Those are the basics that come to mind right now, but
    More links and better, more detailed info in posts to follow!!!
    Ripleygirl, MaryK, Jean Cote and 5 others like this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I never used a clicker, years ago...."My dog is learning tricks just fine, i don't want to be tied to some gizmo, blah blah".
    Others here convinced me to try a clicker.
    Wow, my dog began to "get" the tricks MUCH faster!
    Using a clicker is worth a try!
    CLICKER TRAINING is positive only,
    it's how they train killer whales at Seaworld,
    and how the circus gets tigers to jump through rings of fire.:eek:
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Keep lessons short for Beginner dogs. Like even 5 or 10 minutes long is fine for beginner dogs, always stopping BEFORE your dog zones out and stops paying attention. Overtime, you can add minutes per day to the lessons as your dog builds up his attention span.
    You can repeat a lesson, hours later, but, for most dogs, several short fun lessons, are better than one long lesson. A dog CAN learn a trick
    with 1 five-minute lesson per day.:eek::D
    .(two sessions per day is even better)
    When lesson is over, tell the dog, "all done" or whatever. Follow lessons with playtime,:D to help dog think lessons are fun,:)
    and so dog can release any excitement, etc.
    If dog is struggling to "get" a trick, realize, for dogs to learn something usually takes several lessons, (NOT just one lesson)
    and some things take weeks to learn.
    If you and your dog are struggling, consider posting a new thread on DogTrickAcademy, someone here will know that trick.
    consider moving lesson to new area, new room, or outdoors,
    to perk up the dog's interest.
    If my dog is struggling, i occasionally insert a trick he DOES know well, reward THAT, and then go back to the other trick a bit more, or, i end the lesson for now.
    Occasionally, i have to shelve that entire trick, wait a few weeks, (and just work on some OTHER new trick for now:) )
    and then, re-introduce that hard trick all over again, and WA-LA, now my dog gets it.:LOL: NO IDEA why that works, but it does.(y)
    Some dogs benefit from owner's praise:D when they get it right, as something of high value, too. My dog shuts down, if i shut up. No matter how great the treat is, without praise, my dog zones out on me, loses interest altogether. (my dog is conceited).
    Evaluate your rewards. If rewards are not good enough, dog's progress might not be as fast as it could be.
    Many ppl use food for rewards.
    If you use food, keep treats small, like size of raisen, to avoid a full or fat dog. Dogs do not care how big a treat is. (dogs even scour floors for tiny crumbs). On days i have used food, i might have to cut his meal size down.
    Use healthiest treats you can, such as bits of real meat, hotdogs, hotdogs rolled in parmesan cheese, or consider making your OWN homemade treats---to increase health and save money. Most store bought treats are crapola,:poop: and the healthier ones cost a lot.:(
    Look over the "Treats" section in forums for recipe ideas.
    Some dogs find a tennis ball,
    or tug-toy play a great reward. A reward does not have to be food. Be creative.
    Dioritt, MaryK, Jean Cote and 5 others like this.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    MaryK, Jean Cote, sara and 3 others like this.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Here is Kikopup explaining "clicker training". Kikopup (Emily) is a great resource for those working on behavioral issues. All her videos are short, and easy to understand. This one is GREAT for newbies, lots of great tips.

  6. GEORGE'SDAD Well-Known Member

    Yep...sounds like the most effective way to train tricks!!!
    tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.
  7. Dogster Honored Member

    GREAT thread, Tigerlily!!!!:D We should post this on newbies' "Introduce yourself" threads.:)
  8. Anneke Honored Member

    Great post(s) Tigerlily!
    Dogster and tigerlily46514 like this.
  9. SD&B Experienced Member

    Great posts, TigerLily!
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  10. bekah1001 Honored Member

    Love it!
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  11. SD&B Experienced Member

    Kikopup or a blog probably covered these points, but I didn't go through those yet.

    Know your dog (or enjoy the discovery process). Dogs are individuals. Some dogs like more work, less work, more praise, less praise, food rewards, toy rewards, etc.... Each dog learns at a different pace. Each dog has different strengths and weaknesses. You will have to experiment to find the absolute best method for your dog.

    I like the analogy that a click is just like taking a picture of a behavior you want. When you hear the click, you have just taken a picture and what would have been a picture is the behavior you are rewarding. I read that somewhere else, but I try to remember it. That goes along with Tigerlily's timing point. Click on the behavior you like. The click "marks" the behavior and tells the dog that a reward is coming.

    Oh yes. The origins of modern-day clicker training lie with the training of marine mammals. The concept for training the dolphins and killer whales at SeaWorld led to the clicker training we do with our dogs. Except they use a whistle. Try putting a choke chain on a killer whale and see how far you get, lol. This is really fun to explain to others who don't understand clicker training or why you would want to use it. Kids, especially, relate really well to this information.

    I like that Tigerlily mentioned keeping treats to the size of a raisin. When clicker training, it's easy to give tens or even a hundred treats at one training session or during a day's training sessions.

    If your dog is scared of a clicker because it's too loud, you can also try a ballpoint pen. It clicks, but much more softly. Those with deaf dogs often use a flashlight.

    Clicker training can be used for much more than tricks. It can be used for any behavior you desire. You can use clicker training in agility, obedience, manners, etc....

    Why do clicker trainers like clickers instead of a verbal marker? After all, you can say "Good boy" and then treat. What's the difference? They are both markers. The biggest difference is that the clicker is consistent. Also, it is easier for the dog to differentiate the click marker as being a marker. You may say "Good boy" at other times of the day. Or, if you're like me, you'll say "Good boy" one time and "Great job" the next. They don't have to figure out when the clicker is a trainer marker and when you're just giving them a bit of praise for being cute or whatever. The clicker being consistent and being only a marker at all times helps the dog understand better. (Those who use verbal markers like that the verbal marker is always available and that they never have to get the clicker. Valid point. I use a verbal marker if I don't have a clicker available.)

    That's all I can think of that might be useful to someone new to clicker training. I'll probably think of a thousand things once I post the reply :)
    Dioritt, MaryK, Dogster and 4 others like this.
  12. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    Great advice from both Tigerlily and SD&B! Many thanks guys!
    MaryK, SD&B, Dogster and 1 other person like this.
  13. Amateur Experienced Member

    Don't forget to click & *like* Tigerlily's posting trick :LOL: ... just teasing you TL
    MaryK, SD&B, Dogster and 3 others like this.
  14. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

  15. GEORGE'SDAD Well-Known Member

    ok, so i just downloaded the clicker app on my phone...time to start it up!!!
    MaryK, SD&B, Dogster and 1 other person like this.
  16. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

  17. GEORGE'SDAD Well-Known Member

    ok, Goeorge now knows what the "click" sound means...THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN!!!!
  18. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    :ROFLMAO: YAY!!!! Can't wait to hear what you and George think of clicker training! Now, you are using a "clicker app" on your cellphone, is that right? does it take long to make the "click" noise after you push the button?

    PS---i'm guessing George caught on to the "click = treats" pretty darn fast, right?
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  19. madeleine Experienced Member

    I wouldn't start useing a ballpoint pen. The meaning of the clickers is that after a click always comes a reward. This means that after every ballpoint pen click you as the trainer have to give a reward to the dog. Everytime someone in the house, train, shops, training area, in the car, visiting someone else, etc you have to remind this and give your dog a reward.
    So try to found a sound less familiar. (that's also one off the reasons not to use a "good job" of "yes" as a marking point instead of a "click").
    What you can do is buy a different clicker. There are some clickers on the marked who have 7 different clicker sounds (they say it somes in handy if you train different dogs).
    Then you can sellect the sofftest one.
    MaryK, Dioritt, SD&B and 2 others like this.
  20. GEORGE'SDAD Well-Known Member

    once it loads the app, when you touch the clicker, it is almost instant. When we were loading the clicker, i figured out the delay got it down to a science. But since i know now that he responds well to it, I think I will just go get a clicker.

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