How to clicker train your dog


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”.


 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.

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What is dog clicker training?

Clicker training is a positive reinforcement tool that can be used to train dogs. It can also be used to train dolphins, whales, lions, and people! Like many tools in our world it can seem confusing at first, but allow me to help break it down into bite-sized chunks so you can understand how to use one of the coolest things on the planet.

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Guilty that your dog is bored? Here are tips to prevent boredom.

Preventing dog boredom is one of the constant challenges that dog guardians face. There are many simple strategies that you can use to help your pooch be happier and more content. Here are a few suggestions for you to get started, and you can find the rest by listening to my radio show about preventing dog boredom.

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Do dogs know right from wrong and other dog training questions

Over the years I receive many dog training questions. Here are some of the often repeated ones and how I answer them.

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Socialize your puppy now. The clock is ticking.

Many behavior problems including barking, fear aggression and separation anxiety can be prevented by socializing a puppy properly. I always tell my new puppy clients that I will “nag” them about socialization to ensure that they are spending enough time on this time-critical task. You can teach a dog of any age how to walk nicely on a leash, come when called or any other behavior. The most important socialization period occurs until a puppy is approximately 16-18 weeks of age.

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Tips for crate training your dog. Number one, get over the guilt

Do you want to prevent destruction, prevent separation anxiety, housetrain your puppy faster, train your dog faster and lessen overall frustration? Use a crate!

There are so many statements, misconceptions and questions about crate training that I hear all the time that I wanted to help clear up some of the confusion.

Recent comment in this post
Jeff Millman
I found your site through Google. I cant believe I haven't been these before. Nice report. Thanks
Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:54
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How do you know when to give medication to aggressive or anxious dogs?

On Saturday I saw a client for the first time. My client hired me to assess her 4-year old Yorkshire Terrier named Sam. My client has had Sam for 4.5 months and she recently started giving him Reconcile, a Prozac for dogs to address his dog-to-dog aggression issues. 

I sat with my client in her living room and petted Sam while my client provided me more details about what she has tried in the past and details about Sam’s reactivity level.

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Puppy training tips - work on one behavior at a time

If you ever feel frustrated or overwhelmed by your dog's behavior you should focus on one or two behaviors at a time. This will help focus your attention on behaviors that your dog is exhibiting at the present time. I always have a "checklist" in mind when I am working with my client's dog. When I am working with a young puppy, the list might include behaviors like jumping, biting, grabbing objects off the ground on walks, leash walking, come when called, sit, down, stand, etc. Each walk or training session I recommend focusing on one or two behaviors that are most important at that time.

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Prevent resource guarding or food aggression

Ever see a dog growling around his food bowl? Ever see those "Funniest Home Videos" shows where a dog is showing teeth while standing over a bone? You have witnessed something called Resource Guarding, a form of dog aggression. This form of aggression is fairly common, but easily preventable. As with all undesired behaviors, I always recommend investing the time in the beginning to prevent a situation from arising, rather than having to work on changing behavior later on. Especially with aggression, once a dog bites someone there is always a chance that he might bite again.

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Dog behavior problems? Change the pattern, change the behavior.

There are certain topics in dog training that come up at least once per day. I find myself saying “Change the pattern, change the behavior” in many situations and I realized that this is a powerful concept that you might find useful when working with your dog. 

My dog training philosophy is based on changing a dog’s behavior, and not focusing on what the dog might be thinking.

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