At what age can I start clicker training my dog?
You can start clicker training your puppy as soon as you want; in fact, the sooner the better. The training should obviously be according to the dog’s coordination, physical, and mental level (don’t expect your dog to jump through hoops) but all the basic training can be started as soon as you get your dog. Clicker training is a fun game for the puppy and owner and it creates a very positive bond between the two.
How many times a day and how long should I clicker train my dog?
You should try to keep the duration of the training sessions very short. For a puppy, a minute or two can be more than enough. In general try to do several sessions(5-10, depending on how much time you have) that last 3-5 minutes. Several short sessions are far better than 1 long session.
Can I cause any damage to the dog with clicker training?
No. If you strictly adhere to positive reinforcement and clicker training methods you the most harm you will do is teach your dog a behavior you did not mean to teach (this can be caused, for example, by poor timing in delivering the rewards). Even then, once you realize you made a mistake, you can fix it by rewarding the wanted behavior from now on. Since there is no compulsion or any physical manipulation of the dog, no physical damage can be done with these humane training methods.
I did not quite understand when I should click
The click comes with the performance of the behavior and it is the most important piece of information you can deliver to your dog. Most novice trainers click too late (i.e. after the behavior is already done) since they are preoccupied with the delivery of the food. This is similar to a shortstop missing the easy hop because he is already thinking about the throw to first base before he even caught the ball. Concentrate on the dog and on clicking while he/she is performing the behavior, then deliver a treat to your dog to reward that behavior.
Which foods can I use?
You can and should use any type of food you want as long as your dog loves it and as long as it is not harmful to your dog. Consult your vet if you have doubts and always remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs and that you should never give it to them! Different types of meat are usually very good reinforcements. Remember to cut the meats into small pieces that your dog can eat in one quick bite so you can continue the training session quickly.
Where can I get more information?
Our recommended books section is a great source for finding clicker training and other dog-related books that can enhance your understanding of all canine behavior issues.
Join our forum to ask questions and enjoy a friendly discussion about clicker training.
If you cannot find what you need, feel free to contact us – we will provide all the info we can to help you.