Answers to some of the most common training questions.
A clicker is a mechanical handheld devise that makes a short, distinct “click” sound. The “click” sound tells the animal when exactly they are doing the correct behaviour. This is a clear form of communication between the handler and the animal that is paired with a positive reinforcement to create a safe and humane teaching relationship.
The clicker is consistent and always sounds exactly the same. It has been tested scientifically that neurons in the brain can connect faster and more easily a tone that sounds exactly the same to pleasure rather than a voice. If you are using a clicker you are actually conditioning the dog to find the behaviours reinforcing in themselves. Also, voice carries the trainer’s emotion, and people are talking all the time to their dog’s, so it is hard to make a novel sound used only for training sessions with one’s voice.
No, in the end, you will not need to give your dog a treat for every good behaviour. Initially, we are very generous with our rewards. As the dog starts learning and gets better, we carefully reduce the frequency of their food rewards. Also, we are creative in our use of “life rewards” to reward good behaviour. That could a toy, permission to go sniff, or attaching a leash.
Short 2-3 minute sessions!! Play a game at the end to celebrate successes. If you spread out short sessions throughout the day a dog will learn much faster then long sessions once a day. Train at meal time or when you are out walking your dog.