Before you start with clicker training, you must teach your dog that the sound of the clicker has a positive and significant meaning.
This is called “loading the clicker,” and only needs to be done the first few times that the clicker is introduced to your dog. Once your dog knows what the sound means, you can start training new behaviors together!
“Loading the Clicker” – Easy as 1, 2, 3!
1) Watch your dog do anything good. Sit. Lay down. Greet you without jumping.
If he doesn’t know much, standing still or making eye contact will do just fine.
2) Click the clicker, as if to say “Yes, I like that!”
3) Immediately reward your dog with a small treat
Repeat Steps 1-3 a few dozen times to be certain your dog has a solid understanding of the click sound before you move forward.
Remember, at this point, all you’re teaching your dog is that the click always predicts a treat, or reward.
Make sure you are only clicking when your dog is in sight and they are on their best behavior at the time of the click—if you wait too long to click, you may end up clicking for the wrong behavior and end up having to train a few minutes longer than necessary to fix it.
After a few days—sometimes only a few hours—of brief, basic “loading” sessions, your dog will discover that certain behaviors can “make” you click, and as a result, they will be eager to perform them for you in order to get what they want!
In summary, 5 Things Happen When You Clicker Train:
1) Dog does a specific behavior
2) Person *clicks* right as it happens
3) Dog receives a small, soft treat, or reward
4) Person is proud and praises dog!
5) Dog decides this behavior is valuable!