What is clicker training for Designer dogs?
Many designer dog breeds are very quick to learn new tricks and commands. The key is to get them to understand what it is we want from them when we give them a command. Designer breeds with Poodle in their background such as Cavoodles and Groodles, actually want to please their owners to get a reward such as affection, as fast as possible.
Training a dog using a clicker may seem like a strange practice to the uninitiated but this article should help clear up a few mysteries as to what clicker training is and how it works. It wasn’t that long ago that most trainers raised a skeptical eyebrow towards clicker training, and so clickers were relegated to not much more than toy status. But times have changed and the clicker is now considered a serious tool in many a professional or amateur dog trainer’s arsenal.
Clicker training is essentially using an audible click, produced by a clicker, in order to bring about changes in a dog’s behaviour. Clickers can be found at all good pet stores and are very inexpensive as they are not more than flexible metal plate housed in a small plastic box. Placing your thumb inside the box and pressing down produces the click.
Clicker training operates on a positive reinforcement strategy. The dog learns to associate the click with positive behaviour as every time he does what is asked of him he hears a click and knows that a reward will immediately follow. Essentially the click lets the dog know that he is doing things right and will get a treat for doing so.
When the dog sits the trainer clicks and the dog is then given a reward as positive reinforcement. Trainers may use varying reward methods such as petting, food, or even play; it just depends on the individual dog and their trainer and what they know will work best for the dog.
Most dogs learn to associate the click with something it likes very quickly (sometimes in just two or three clicks). Like all training it’s not practical to keep on rewarding a dog with a physical treat for positive behaviour every time. Therefore, once a behaviour is learned, the trainer will gradually start to withhold treats after a click until the dog is performing the correct behaviour on cue. The dog will then learn that good behaviour comes with its own life rewards such as being let in if they sit quietly by the door, food if they wait politely for dinner to be served, or being petted if they sit and wait when asked.
Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training method that does not use punishment for bad behaviour. Research into dog behaviour tells us that when a dog is punished it may reduce the bad behaviour but it is just as likely to elevate another equally unfavourable behaviour. As a result, training a dog with negative reinforcement can have unpredictable and unwanted results – something which clicker training avoids.