CHARGE THE CLICKER
The first thing you need to is charge the clicker. Charging the clicker is simply teaching your dog that the ‘click’ noise always precedes a wonderful treat. Simply take 10 treats and occasionally click the clicker and give your dog a treat. Mix it up so he does not do one behavior or just sit in front of you waiting for the next treat. If he does this, walk away from him and take a little break. When you get to the point where your dog is looking away from you and quickly turns around upon hearing the ‘click’ then you can say the clicker is “charged”.
START USING THE CLICKER
Now that your dog associates the clicker with something wonderful, you can use it as a teaching tool. The great thing about the clicker is that it marks a behavior very clearly so a dog knows exactly what the right answer is. Here is an exercise that you can do with your dog. I want you to think of the clicker as taking a picture of a behavior that you like. This is really good with young, overexcited puppies.
As we discussed, you can use a clicker to teach a dog that his behavior dictates whether he gets rewarded.
So, you can do something called shaping. Don’t ask your dog to do anything, just click and treat when you like what he is doing, and ignore when he does something inappropriate. Good examples include sitting, lying down or following you. Behaviors that you want to ignore might be jumping on you or barking. Read this post about shaping behaviors, and this post about getting rid of problem behaviors using shaping.