Barkers Anonymous Uses Clicker Training With All Dogs
Clicker Training: A science-based form of training that’s force-free.
Your dog will be rewarded for behaviors we want to encourage, and ignored for the behaviors we don’t desire. Dogs repeat what has proven to be rewarding for them. If it’s not rewarding, the behavior becomes extinct. The result of this type of training is learned behaviors (through operant conditioning; teaching a new behavior).
These behaviors will be remembered throughout the life of your pet.
Clicker training works so well because it is based on a system of rewards, and the clicker allows us to mark a particular action that earned the reward. Dogs learn very quickly that the click means they did the action correctly, and the action will then be repeated.
The clicker is always followed by a reward. The pairing of food following the clicker works, because it creates a reflexive action, also known as “classical conditioning.” Just think of Pavlov’s salivating dogs.
The click is a quick and consistent sound that is always easily noticed. We do not use words because they take too long and our inflections change, often making things sound inconsistent. We also use these words daily in conversation, and your dog is not being rewarded for hearing the word every time you use it. Therefore, the click is a distinct sound that is very efficient in training.
Understanding the value of food rewards.
Food rewards are our first choice in beginning our training. Having a variety of food rewards will keep things interesting for your dogs, and will make them even more excited to learn. We will use higher value rewards for actions that are more difficult to learn, which will keep them motivated to be creative in trying new actions to earn a click.
Don’t worry, you won’t always be carrying a clicker around for the rest of your dog’s life, but it will be used for teaching new behaviors.
Once the behavior is learned, you don’t need to click and reward. However, it is important to praise your dog in some way they like. This may be a functional or real-life reward such as a belly rub, taking them out for a walk, playing fetch with a ball, playing tug, greeting another dog, or getting to go outside and play.
Once your dog learns that using these learned cues results in rewarding consequences, your household will be a very happy place! Dogs that learn using a reward-based training method with no punishment involved are more creative, and are always eager to learn.
Training that utilizes any type of punishment shuts learning down and is not as effective.
What items do I need for training?
- Treat pouch
- Training treats
A variety of soft training treats over a wide range in value, including:
Low Value: kibble, typical dog cookie
Medium Value: Soft training treats, dehydrated meat (great choice for raw fed dogs), The Real Meat Dog Food Company’s dog food (air dried raw), xylitol free peanut butter
High Value: Chopped chicken, turkey, nitrate free hot dogs, or cheese. Lick-able tubes of cream cheese, blended sardines, sour cream, or meat baby food.
- Harness: we recommend the Freedom Harness or the Easy Walk Harness. We do not work with aversive tools such as prong collars, choke chains, or harnesses that cause pain.
- A regular 6’ leash. No retractable leashes please.
- A toy or chew your dog likes.