August 28, 2012
Positive training methods, which reinforce good behavior with rewards like praise and treats, have been shows to be the most effective way to train many animals, including dogs. It helps the animal to form a positive association with specific acts, which can then be put together with commands or cues.
Positive training uses simple repetition to help imprint ideas into the animal’s mind, and a process called ‘shaping’ to help build complexity or improvement into a specific behavior.
The clicker is a tool that’s commonly used in positive training. It works by making a distinct, instant audible sound when pressed, to mark the fact that a reward is forthcoming! You can initially ‘charge up’ a dogs’ response and recognition of the clicker by repeatedly clicking and then giving a treat. The ‘click and treat’ process, when given in rapid succession, helps the dog to understand that when a click is heard, a treat is on the way. The clicker is helpful because it makes a consistent sound very promptly and is therefore very easy for the dog to recognize.
In training ‘sit’ you could click and treat each time the dog happens to sit down, and then put a command with the action (it could be the actual word ‘sit’, or something fun and silly that the dog will learn to associate with the action of sitting).
It’s important that clicker training sessions remain positive, fun and relatively short in duration to help avoid fatigue, which can lead to lapses in concentration on the parts of both the dog and the owner! Where the treats are concerned, a small, tasty and aromatic treat which is highly desirable and won’t fill up tummies too fast. Quickies are just perfect for the job!