Dog Clicker Training

training hunting dog with a clicker

Clicker training can strengthen the bond between humans and dogs.

Were you fascinated by clicking toy frogs during your childhood? The clicker is a rather similar device. The working principle is the same: You click on an in-built button and a soft cracking sound is heard. The following article summarises the most important information for you on the subject of clicker training with dogs.

What is a clicker?

In very simple terms, a clicker is a handy drop-shaped object with a button in the middle. Some of them are also equipped with an extendable rod, which you can use to point at things.

You can wrap the small device around your hand with a wrist strap. When you press the button, the clicker gives off a crackling sound.

Aussie dog with a clicker
Training your pet is fun with the clicker.

How does clicker training with dogs work?

Clicker training for dogs has been used for years in dog training, horse training and even with cats. Scientific studies prove that clicker training makes it easier for animals to learn tricks and do away with unwanted behaviour.

The principle is that every click represents a reward. So that your dog truly understands the click signal as something positive, you first have to make it familiar with the noise and teach it that the sound is to be understood as an alternative to treats.

Tips for first-time clicker training with dogs

You have to consider a few things before starting clicker training with your dog. Don't worry though, as you and your dog will love the clicker once you get the hang of it!

What do I need for clicker training?

You only need a few things to start clicker training with your dog: A clicker, a few treats or dry food and an attentive dog. 

You can also find very tasty dog snacks in the zooplus online store. 

What is the right way to use a clicker in the first training session?

It's important to teach your pet dog the principle of clicking during the first training session with the clicker. Activate the clicker in the first step and give your dog a treat straight after. Optimal timing plays an important role! Only when you master this will your canine understand the basic principle of dog training.

Repeat clicker training around five times in each training session. Give your dog a treat with every click so that it clearly interprets clicking as a reward. If you give it the treat too late, the clicker loses its reinforcement function. As soon as your dog sees clicking as a reward, you can get started on real clicker training together.

Tips for successful clicker training with dogs

Start clicker training with an exercise that your dog already knows – such as the command 'sit'. Give your dog the command and click as soon as it has correctly carried out the exercise. 

An overview of the most important rules: 

  • Make sure that your dog understands clicking as a reward. 
  • Training should take place in an environment as relaxed and stimulus-free as possible. 
  • Focus on the right timing: Delays lead to your dog not relating its behaviour to the clicking. 
  • The reward must be given straight after clicking. 
  • Short exercise sessions are generally more productive. 
  • Give your dog a break as soon as its concentration wanes. 
  • Start off with easy exercises in order not to overwhelm your dog. 
Australian shepherd with clicker and snacks
Your dog immediately receives a reward following every clicking noise!

What can I achieve with clicker training for dogs?

If your timing is right, you can gradually practice tricks with your dog. In addition, you can help your canine friend to break bad behavioural habits (e.g. excessive barking) in this way. You will manage this if you positively reinforce the right behaviour and ignore bad behaviour.

Another tip is to never force your dog to continue if it no longer wishes to. End clicker training as soon as your dog stops paying attention.

Once your dog has got used to the clicker, you can take it with you everywhere you go.

What tricks can be practiced with the clicker?

You're probably now asking yourself what tricks you can teach your dog with the clicker!

The answer is an endless amount. The difficulty level of course varies. As a beginner, you should start with easier tricks so that neither you nor your dog become overwhelmed.

Tricks for beginners

  1. Spinning in a circle

Your dog has to follow your hand in order for you to teach it to spin in a circle. You can achieve this by putting a treat in your hand. Your dog will generally follow your hand – even if you draw a circle in the air with your hand.

It's important that you only click and give the reward if your gives you a full turn. If it does this correctly after repeating several times, you can also add a spoken command (e.g. “turn”). You can also reduce the hand movement after a few practice sessions until your dog only responds to your spoken command.

  1. Standing on all fours

First make your dog sit down for this command, then put a treat in your hand and clench both your fists in your dog's direction. Choose your distance so that your dog can touch your hands with its paws without any problems from a sitting position.

In order for it to do so, you have to encourage your dog at the start of practice to touch your hands with both paws when standing. If it does this, you must immediately click and reward your dog. You can also gradually leave your hands out of this trick until your dog only reacts to your voice.

dog training on the grass
Learn commands with the clicker in no time at all and have lots of fun!
  1. Placing on an object

With this trick, your dog learns to place its two front paws on a flat object. Before you start clicker training with your dog, you should provide a stable, flat object. If your dog doesn't glance at the object, it makes sense to push it back and forth a little.

The first step is to make sure that your dog shows interest in the object. You then place the object before your dog, click and reward it as soon as it shows interest in the object.

If your dog associates the object with the reward, you can stop clicking and rewarding. Your pet now needs to show a different mode of behaviour so that you reward it. This is where it usually tries out a few options.

You should click as soon as your dog begins to place its paw on the object. Some patience is required in order to capture this behaviour. Stop clicking if your dog has understood after a few repetitions that it should place its paw on the object.

Your dog should place both paws on the object in the next phase. This is done in the same way: If your dog places both paws on the object, click and reward it. As soon as it performs the trick correctly, you can also add a spoken command.

Dos and Don’ts: The most important rules of clicker training with dogs

Clicking is suitable for all dogs and all dog owners! Nevertheless, there are a few rules that you should bear in mind for successful conditioning:

  • Only practice commands once your dog has understood the method.
  • Timing is crucial: Your dog will get confused if you click too early or too late.
  • Do not make any noise during clicker training, as your dog should primarily concentrate on the clicking sound.
  • Don't overwhelm your dog and only ask for commands that it has mastered at that moment in time.

You can achieve a lot with your dog if you bear in mind these sources of error. However, having fun is the most important thing. If your dog isn't keen, so be it. Put the clicker to one side and try again with training once your dog is motivated again.

Find all products related to clicker training in the zooplus online store!

Our most helpful articles
5 min

Gentle Training: Leaving your Puppy On Its Own

Being particularly social animals, dogs love the company of their pack. Nevertheless, every adult dog should be capable of staying on its own for short periods of time. This will need to be trained early on in life, as a fully-grown dog that has never been left alone will struggle to adapt.

11 min

“Help, my dog is destroying everything!”

Shoes, cables, phones, felt-tip pens, sofas, carpets or waste bins – nothing seems to be safe from the destructiveness of some dogs. Within a very short space of time, wild dogs can turn a home and all its furnishings upside down. But why do some dogs have destructive tendencies and how can they move away from this behaviour?