Our virtual clicker training course combines knowledge and practical exercises. It exists because we want canine coaching to be positive and fun for you and your dog. If you have just arrived with us, you can visit an earlier class here:
By this point your dog should be able to look at you on cue and be released by the click. This is when we introduce another cue word, the release cue. As you and the dog begin to master clicker training, you can slowly increase the time the dog must perform each action before click release. Initially each action should be rewarded as soon as the dog performs it, but slowly you can stretch out the act.
The release cue will be the same term regardless of the act you are teaching. It can be something simple like “off you go” or even “finish”. When your dog knows the act quite well, after being taught it for a few sessions, you can begin to use the release cue instead of the clicker for release. Do this in the same way as you taught the behaviour cue in the first place.
The trick here is to set your dog up for success by always releasing him before he moves on his own. This will be easier to teach if you have already taught your dog to wait a little while for the click, gradually to strengthen the behaviour.
Add the release cue as you click, to begin with, the process will go something like this:
- The dog is in the “watch me” cued position, waiting for the click.
- You give the release cue, click as you say it, and give the dog his treat.
- Soon you will be able to use the release cue in place of the clicker for release.
Add It Together
Eventually and only when you have taught everything separately, to avoid confusion, you can add the entire thing together. By this point you may not even need the clicker for this is the last step learning.
The entire training process will look like this:
- Ask the dog to look at you by using his cue word.
- Hold him in position for only as long as he can cope by waiting for a second or more, depending on how well he is managing.
- Give the cue word for release.
- Reward the dog.
By this point you may not even need the clicker for the learning process should be complete. If your dog can’t manage this process, then you have moved on too quickly and his learning foundations have not been laid. You will need to go back and re-teach from an easier point.
When the above process is perfect, it’s a case of taking a few steps backwards with your training, rewards and clicker. We do this to retrain the cue and release in increasingly distracting areas and proof the learning and behaviour.
When you are first learning how to clicker train, if you have multiple dogs, train them separately initially. As you become more confident and the dogs become familiar with the process, bring them together for training sessions.
Dogs are group creatures and learn well from each other, especially when a younger dog is paired up with an older dog with more familiarity with the process. It also promotes a spirit of competition, which many dogs respond well to, and often results with tasks being picked up faster.
The most important thing to remember is that your dog should never fear you. If either of you are getting angry or frustrated in sessions, it is time to stop and review how you are training. Most likely the sessions are too long, confusing for the dog or too frequent.
Clicker training should be a positive and fun experience for both dog and owner to encourage the partnership the training is ultimately rooted in.
Next time we will look at teaching some new and useful cues, that can help to teach your dog impulse control and general manners, whilst also building his confidence and self-esteem.
We welcome questions as you work through the course, comment below and we will reply promptly.