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How to Train Your Dog With a Clicker
Apr 20, 2018

There's no better moment than adopting your own furbaby. From the moment you saw the begging eyes, wagging tail and innocent enthusiasm of your dog, you knew you were meant to be — you saw yourself taking long walks together, playing in the park, snuggling up on the couch and savoring that puppy-pawrent bond for the rest of your lives. It was puppy love at first sight, and you decided to take the plunge and bring that irresistible angel home.

Then, you found yourself presented with a problem — no matter how much you love your furbaby, they aren't always an angel. In fact, your dog might have a downright devilish streak. They might dig through the dirt in the backyard and track mud all over your vacuumed carpets, dodging your grabbing arms when you try to stop him. It could be that they love to chew the couch and won't listen when you try to reprimand them.

Maybe it's even a problem when you go for a walk, and your dog won't stop barking at other animals, dragging on the leash and ignoring your commands. Whether your dog won't learn to stop jumping on people and peeing on the carpet, doesn't understand they can't climb on the furniture or completely disregards your attempts at discipline, it can be pretty clear that your beloved baby needs some proper training.

Almost everyone adores dogs and can't wait to take one home — including you. But no matter how good your intentions are and how much affection you show your little furbaby, dogs — just like kids — must be trained to behave well and listen to your loving requests so that you can coexist in harmony. Whether you adopt a wobbly legged puppy or a fully grown rescue dog, a Pomeranian or a Great Dane, you need to train your dog to understand commands, obey certain command words and be on their best behavior for you.

train your dog to understand commands

It's a process that helps you and your dog understand each other while your pup learns to respect you and know what you expect. Like laying out ground rules with a little kid or learning compromise in a relationship, training is essential to the life you dream of with your dog.

Clicker Training Instead of Outdated Methods

Even though training is an important step everyone should take when they own a dog, fewer than five percent of puppies participate in training and socialization classes, according to two recent American studies. That means about 75 percent of America's dogs don't receive any professional training. With a pup population of more than 83 million, about 62 million dogs may be untrained. Why?

 75% of america's dogs don't receive any training

Many pawrents might not understand its importance, don't want to enroll their pups in professional classes or don't know how to do it themselves. It could even be that they're hesitant to be too hard on their babies and don't want to put them through a difficult time with training.

But it doesn't have to be hard! You don't have to pay for professional classes, spend a crazy amount of time conditioning your dog or use old-fashioned, negative training methods that will make you feel guilty. You can train your furbaby quickly, kindly and effectively on your own at home, and it's as easy as the click of a button.

Want to know how to train a puppy with a clicker? From figuring out when your pup needs to be trained to knowing how to start clicker training and carrying it through, we'll help you make sure your furbaby is the best-behaved dog around!

Common Behaviors That Mean Your Dog Needs Training

It's a pretty safe bet that any puppy you take home is in serious need of some obedience training, but if you adopt an older dog from a shelter or agency, you may have a furbaby with some training already. It's probably best to do some training either way so that you can make sure you and your baby are on the same wavelength and avoid or modify any potentially problematic behaviors like biting, barking and peeing on the floor.

Some pups need more attention than others when it comes to obedience, and bad doggy behavior might be harder to spot than you think. To determine whether your new family member needs help with their behavior, look for these common signs that it's a good idea to clicker train your dog:

  1. Barking: Barking is normal behavior for our little fluffy babies, right? Dogs do use barking to communicate, and it's natural for your furbaby to make some noise now and then. However, if your dog is barking at all hours of the day and night, yapping at everything they see or anything that moves, it can point to an underlying behavioral issue. A little positive reinforcement and clicker discipline can help teach your dog to stay quieter and calm down.
  2. Jumping: You may love it when your baby comes to the door to greet you when you get home, jumping up on your legs and putting their paws on your chest with a furiously wagging tail. However, it's not actually a behavior you should encourage — especially if your puppy will grow into a sizeable adult dog. Allowing them to jump up will inevitably cause problems when you have guests over or take your furbaby for a walk because others probably won't appreciate your baby's muddy paws, claws and weight on them. Unchecked jumping can lead to unpleasant behavioral patterns.

 aggressive dog

  1. Aggression: If your dog is possessive of food or aggressive toward people or other pets, behavior training is a must. Growling, barking or lunging at people or animals is not only dangerous to them but also to your dog. You don't want your pooch to get into fights or to scare kids and upset parents when you take them outside. You want everyone to love your dog as much as you do. Letting aggression go unchecked won't teach them to be friendly and well-behaved, but positive reinforcement methods like dog training with a clicker will.
  2. Tail-chasing: Watching your puppy chase their tail is adorable, but it points to pent-up energy and boredom, which can morph into aggression or uncontrollable behavior as your dog gets older. If your pup has a habit of going after their tail, you can divert their attention, teach them tricks and ensure good behavior with a little training.
  3. Leash-pulling: When you go outside for a nice stroll down the street to stimulate your dog's senses and let out energy, does the pup walk you instead of the other way around? Pulling and straining against a leash during walks can just mean a dog is excited, but if you let your floof lead the way and find yourself wrapping the leash around your hand so that it isn't jerked out of your grip, you need to check the behavior. Otherwise, it'll never stop, and your dog will be less likely to listen to other commands.
  4. Ignoring: Does your puppy come running when you call their name? If you have trouble gaining or keeping your dog's attention when you call her, it's time to implement some training to make sure they keep an ear out and listen to your commands. In fact, this could be the first step you take toward better behavior.

Each of these common puppy behaviors is harmless enough when your dog is young, but they will quickly become less controllable in older dogs who never learn the difference between good and bad behavior. If your pup frequently displays these habits, you can lovingly and positively steer them toward better behavior with clicker training.

What Is Clicker Training?

So how can you easily implement loving training into your dog's routine, teaching them to be better behaved and paving the path toward a harmonious relationship? By clicker training, of course.

 teaching dog with clicker training

Clicker dog training is a type of operant conditioning for dogs — meaning it teaches them how to behave by affecting their memories, perceptions and associations with certain behaviors through connecting them with specific consequences or outcomes. While dog training used to be primarily based on a type of operant conditioning involving negative reinforcement — or punishments for incorrect behaviors — we don't use these unfriendly methods anymore. Punishment is no way to encourage your furbaby to learn, listen and become comfortable with you. Positive reinforcement training works so much better.

Through positive reinforcement, you teach your dog to adopt certain behaviors and let go of others simply by rewarding good behaviors with treats, praise or favorite activities while ignoring the behaviors that aren't so good. Repetition of this reward process gradually teaches your dog which actions will lead to positive outcomes and which will not. Eventually, your pup will act out their bad habits less and less, focusing on the good behaviors that earn rewards.

There's no question that positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. In fact, in a recent study on conditioning dogs to perform certain behaviors by providing them with rewards, the dogs performed the desired action correctly eight out of 10 times following the training.

Clicker training works with this concept by attaching a clicking noise to the successful performance of a good behavior, helping your dog associate the habit with a specific, positive outcome.

How Does Clicker Training Work for Your Dog?

The clicker is a device consisting of a metal strip inside a plastic box. When you press it, the box releases a distinctive clicking noise to draw your dog's attention. While rewarding your pup's good behavior with only a treat or a phrase of praise — like "good dog!" — can be helpful in teaching your dog what actions to perform, the click is much quicker and more noticeable to the dog.

 providing reward with clicker training

A clicker can be especially effective when used along with another form of reward. The "click" is not a reward on its own, but by giving treats or praise directly after pressing the clicker, you will teach your furbaby that the sound has a positive meaning. When dogs hear the click, they'll know a reward is coming soon and then associate that reward with the positivity of whatever behavior they've just performed.

The click works somewhat like taking a photo — when you accurately use the clicker along with your dog's good behavior, it captures the action in the pup's memory. Soon, they will link the action with the click and, therefore, the reward. This positive association will make them much more likely to repeat the good behavior in the future because they'll be anticipating praise, a treat or a favorite activity like a walk or tummy rub.

Your dog is clever, and clicker training uses that intelligence to your advantage. Soon, you'll have your pup behaving better than ever.

How to Start Clicker Training

Wondering what the best way is to begin clicker training your dog? You'll love how simple it is. To develop your dog's understanding of what the clicking sound means, you'll start with an initial training phase and work your way up to teaching specific behaviors. In the beginning, you will always need to use treats or other strong rewards immediately after clicking to show your dog what the sound means and increase its effectiveness. Here's how to start "loading the clicker”:

 give treats with clicker training

  1. Start your clicker training in a quiet area with a hungry puppy who will be happy to receive some treats. Try to make sure your dog isn't especially over-stimulated, exhausted or full from a recent meal — the rewards will work best when he's alert and ready for food. Have a big handful of treats nearby to use as clicker rewards.
  2. Begin to condition your dog to the clicking noise. Press the clicker and, following the sound, immediately hand your dog a treat. Repeat this action of clicking and rewarding at least five to 10 times to reinforce the positive association in your pooch.
  3. To test whether your furbaby is used to the meaning of the clicker, try pressing it when they're not paying attention. If they respond quickly, perking up and looking for a treat from you, your dog understands what the click means and is ready for some basic training.
  4. Begin to teach your furbaby a few basic commands. When you get your dog to perform the action, follow it with an immediate click, praise and a treat. It's important for you to press the clicker at the precise moment your pup performs the right behavior so that they know the action itself is positive.

 move through basic commands and advanced training with clicker

Once you've mastered using the clicker, and your dog understands its implications, you can move through basic commands to more advanced training if you desire. All it takes is consistent clicking and the right rewards.

Behaviors You Can Teach

Clicker training your pup is simple and so useful because you can use it to teach just about any behavior, from basic to advanced. Here are just a few behaviors you can help your dog master with clicker training:

  • Sit: As the first command you'll try to teach your furbaby, sit seems pretty easy to master, so you might think it's too simple for clicker training. However, this behavior is the basis for managing other issues and working toward better-trained behavior. For example, when your dog has a strong understanding of sit, they won't jump, and it will be easier to instruct them on other actions.
  • Stay:  This command ensures you can always stop your dog from entering into unfavorable situations. If you need to keep them away from traffic, make sure they don't overwhelm guests with a certain greeting or even keep your floof out from under your feet, stay will ensure they wait patiently. This command can help you manage your pup's behavior in both private and public settings.
  • Lie down: Teaching your pup to lie down is critical because it enforces calmness and prevents the continuation of certain bad behaviors like jumping. When your dog knows how to lie down on command, they will be able to relax more quickly if overstimulated, and you'll have a fail-safe way to stop unwanted behavior. This command also acts as a building block for more advanced behaviors like roll over.
  • Fetch: This command can just be for fun when you want to play a game in the park — or maybe you can even train your dog to do you favors by grabbing specific items when you ask. Your dog is intelligent, after all!

 teach your dog to come

  • Come: This action will help you keep control of your pup and keep track of them when it's convenient. If they get loose from their leash, wander outside your yard or race off after a squirrel, you can call them back right away without worrying. Come is useful for getting your pup to snap to your side whenever you need their company.
  • Watch me: This command teaches your dog to keep eyes on you and provide you with undivided attention. It's a great basis for basic to advanced training because once a pup knows how to pay attention, they'll be ready to receive any other command you give. They'll also learn to be calmer and less susceptible to outside distractions.
  • With me: This command will help with all the aggressive tugging that keeps you from enjoying dog walks to the fullest. You can use it to make sure your dog relaxes and keeps pace beside you, letting you loosen the leash and enjoy the exercise and socialization you both deserve.
  • Leave it: Dogs love to sniff around and pick things up, but this can be problematic when the items are dangerous, inedible, someone else's or — eek! — alive. To keep your dog from eating your shoes, playing with the neighbor's cat or tasting every object they come across, teach them to leave it! It'll save you plenty of stress.
  • Drop it: When your pup does pick up something they shouldn't, teaching them to drop it ensures you can get the item away from them quickly before they consume or ruin it. This directive can be helpful if your baby tries to eat something poisonous or destroy one of your possessions.

 teach your dog to wait

  • Wait: Like stay, wait ensures your dog stays still until you tell him it's okay to move again. This can teach your pup patience when they're anxious to see something, and it can keep them safe or calm in situations where they might race out the door or out of the car or crate.

There's so much more you can teach your dog using clicker training. Start with basic behaviors and build up to advanced actions by using your clicker to positively reinforce each step. We bet you never knew how easy it could be to get your dog to behave in a professionally trained manner.

How Furbo Dog Camera Can Help

Clicker training has so many benefits. It isn't just good for teaching your dog better behavior — it also improves your relationship with your furbaby by teaching you to communicate clearly, building your pup's confidence and respect for you with positive reinforcement and bringing you closer together. Plus, the training will wear away traits of aggression and fear while burning off some of your dog's extra energy, making them much more inclined to calmness and affection. Nothing could be better than strengthening your bond with your baby and rewarding all that good behavior with some well-earned cuddles.

 clicker training can be useful when introducing your dog to a new situation

Clicker training for dogs can continue to be useful whenever you introduce your pup to a new situation, setting or behavior. In fact, you can even use it while you're away from home! If you're worried about how your furbaby will behave while you're on vacation or in the office, Furbo Dog Camera can help. With our Furbo, we provide a unique way to keep an eye on and interact with your pup when you're out of the house, all while reinforcing their clicker dog training.

Not only do our interactive cameras let you make sure your dogs are safe, but they allow you to issue commands and provide treats, making the clicker sound your pup is accustomed to. Keep your furbaby well-behaved and comfortable with clicker training at all times, whether you're in the next room or another state! Purchase our Furbo Dog Camera to help with your clicker training today.

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