A clicker is a small plastic box with a thin sheet of metal inside it that
makes a "click" sound when the yellow button is pressed. This "click" sound
is used to mark the exact moment that the dog is doing the exercise correctly
(it also marks the END of the exercise). The dog is conditioned to anticipate
a reward when it hears a single "click" (never click more than
once) and so tries to repeat the behaviour in order to gain another reward.
(See our Guest Article by Doris Vaterlaus).
CLICKERS ARE VERY POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE
TRAINING AIDS IF USED CORRECTLY
For instance, Click here to find out how to train
a dog to retrieve using a clicker.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand when and how to use clickers,
resulting in disappointed owners and very confused dogs! Therefore, make sure
you fully understand how, when and why you should do clicker training before
trying it out on your dog.
One of the best ways to learn to use a clicker is by trying to train
a HUMAN before you attempt to train a dog with a clicker. I know
this sounds silly but it is great way to practice WHEN to click
and also what it feels like being a "dog".
The object of the "Human Click Game" is to train your human
"Dog" to do a task without speaking, gesturing, or communicating
with them in any way - apart from using the clicker to indicate when
they are doing the correct thing.
You will need -
- 2 people - one to be the Trainer, the other the "Dog"
- Rewards for the "Dog" (eg. Small coins or sweets - anything
that they WANT and will happily work for!)
- A variety of small objects (eg. A piece of paper; a pen or pencil;
a pair of scissors; a small container like a plastic box or a glass
jar; a clothes peg; a key; a sweet; a rubber band; in fact anything
that comes to hand!)
- Before the Game begins write the name of each articles being used
on a separate piece of card or paper and mix them up, face down, so
that neither of the players knows what is written on them. These small
slips of paper or card will be used as a "lucky dip" to
decide what the "dog" has to touch when being trained with
- Place the objects on a tray or on the table between the Trainer
and the Dog.
- The Trainer and the Dog must NOT speak to
each other, or communicate in any way throughout the Game.
- The Trainer picks up one of the slips of paper to see what they
have train the Dog to do. Let us pretend that they pick up the word
"PEN" from the slips of paper.
- The Dog begins to move their hands over each of the objects, sometimes
touching them or picking them up to see if they can get a reaction
from the Trainer.
- If the Dog moves their hand towards the pen the Trainer will CLICK
with their clicker and give the Dog a reward.
- The Dog will then try to work out why they were "clicked"
and where their hand was when it happened. They will experiment and
move their hand nearby where they heard the click.
- The Trainer will then make the Click sound ( & Reward) when
the Dog's hand is very close to the pen.
- The Dog will think about where their hands were when they heard
both the first and second click.... and will probably experiment further
and put their hand on various objects.
- The Trainer will then only use the clicker (& Reward) when the
Dog touches the pen.
- Dog drops the pen and picks up other objects - no click - so picks
up the pen again - Click & Reward.
- By now the dog has worked out that to get a click (& the Reward)
it must pick up the pen. The Game is over.
Play this Game in different ways, practicing your timing so that the
click marks the exact moment when the Dog is doing the right thing.
Try swapping over so that the Dog becomes the Trainer. Find out how
confusing it is being the Dog and not understanding what its expected
of it. Also find out how important it is to have clear communication
between Trainer and Dog. Is it more stressful for the Dog if the Reward
is too exciting? What happens if the Reward is given too late?
When you are happy with this Game make it more difficult by picking
up two or three slips of paper at a time and training the Dog to do
something with all the articles chosen at once, or in a chain of behaviours.
For instance -
- Write on the paper with the pen, then cut it up with the scissors
- Wrap the rubber band around the key then put it in the jar
- Put the clothes peg on the sweet then wrap it in the piece of paper.
By now you should thoroughly understand how to use a clicker properly
and can now begin training and shaping your dog using the clicker.
We highly recommend the following books on clicker training (which can be
bought from our web shop) and we also sell the revolutionary new
design of clickers (shown in the picture above).
The Material contained herein may not be reproduced without
the prior written approval of Dog Games Ltd. © 2000-2005 All Rights Reserved.
DOG-GAMES WEBSITE - HOME PAGE