Whether you have a boisterous Border Collie or a laid-back Labrador, training your pooch to listen to commands is never straightforward. There are tons of different methods for training out there, and one popular proven technique is using a clicker as a marker for commands.
By marking good behavior with a clicker, you'll find your pup picks up new tricks much quicker. A clicker helps create a better dialogue with your dog by telling them what they're doing right, rather than focusing on what's wrong. But what exactly is verbal clicker training? And does it work? Here's the lowdown on training your dog to listen to verbal click words.
There are a couple of key tasks to consider when teaching your dog verbal commands with a clicker. First, you'll need to ensure you're rewarding your dog for good behavior rather than praise.
If you find you're using your clicker and giving your dog a treat when saying things like "good dog!" or "well done!", your dog will associate these words with the clicker rather than a specific command.
You should always praise your dog after successfully doing the trick with a clicker; however, wait until after you've given your dog a treat so they don't get confused. If your dog isn't very food-motivated, you may struggle to train them with a clicker.
After your dog completes a specific command after you tell them to "sit", "stay", etc., you'll have around 3 seconds to use your clicker and then give a treat as positive reinforcement. If you're not quick on the draw, your woofer may not associate the command with the clicker. It's also vital to always give a treat whenever using the clicker, even if you use it in error. If you let off the clicker by accident without giving treats, your pup may not associate the clicker with positive reinforcement, making future clicker training extra difficult.
To start training your pup to listen to verbal click words, you'll want to prepare a bag of high-value treats your hound loves to reward the correct behavior. Try to pick a space with very few distractions to begin with, and then try training again in a busier space, so your pup gets used to following commands even with lots of distractions around.
If your dog follows a specific command, use the clicker and then give them a treat. Over time, your dog will begin to associate the clicker with their favorite treat and will perform tasks with little to no fuss.
You should always praise your dog during training, ensuring you wait until after you've used the clicker and given them a treat. Advanced training techniques can be challenging even if your dog is highly food motivated, as it requires great hand-eye coordination and your pup's undivided attention. If you're struggling, consider booking a session with a dog trainer through Wag!.