How Early Can You Start Clicker Training?
An excellent way to teach your puppy to behave and learn is to use a dog training technique known as clicker training. Plus, using clicker training with puppies is very easy.
Dogs, like humans, repeat behaviors and actions that they are rewarded for and will avoid those that have no benefit. You do not need to be a master dog trainer to use this technique, and your puppy will quickly learn how they should behave.
An added benefit is that your puppy will work out that they are in control of the outcome. This will empower and encourage them to want to do the good behavior to get the reward. It will also teach your pup to look forward to and enjoy their training sessions thanks to the game used to communicate with one another.
How Early Can You Start Clicker Training?
Clicker training can be used from very early on, allowing you to foster the right behavior from a young age. You can have your pup sitting and lying down by the time they are just 10 weeks old. Puppies are very easy to teach as they are like sponges, ready to soak up as much as they can.
If you give your pup a constructive way to spend their energy, you will have them learning and obeying in no time at all. It is advised that you start clicker training your puppy as early as you can. If you can start at 6 weeks, this is best, but as soon as possible once you have your pup will work.
Introducing Your Dog to Clicker Training
By using clicker training, you allow your puppy to stumble across the behaviors that you want them to do. They will do many things “wrong” before they will accidentally sit – and then they get a reward.
Your puppy will think that they will get a treat if they guess and perform the behavior you want them to do. The more incorrect behaviors they try, the faster they will learn what doesn’t work.
Clicker training doesn’t require you to give any physical direction or commands. It is all motivated by your puppy, which means they don’t get punished, just rewarded for good behavior. You can use commands and then click and reward when they obey, but you first want to start by establishing the basis for good behavior.
Rather than waiting for your dog to do the wrong things, you will catch them doing the right things and give them a distinctive sign (click and treat) so that they understand that the action is a good one. Clicker training simply allows your pup to understand that what they did was right.
Explaining the Clicking Sound to Your Dog
There are a few ways that you can speed up the clicker training process, but the following one is recommended by many trainers. They recommend “loading the clicker” so that your puppy identifies the click sound with a reward. This is how you do it:
Place some smelly treats like hot dog pieces, cheese, or liver bits in a shallow dish. The pieces should be small – just enough to give your dog a little taste without filling their tummy or ruining their nutrition. You want them to appreciate the taste and smell and then want more.
Sit on the floor and place the dish within your reach but away from your puppy. Hold a treat in your one hand and the clicker in your other hand.
Click your clicker. When your dog’s ears twitch or they come to investigate, give them a treat immediately. They won’t understand why they got the treat, but they will want more.
Repeat the process again and again. Always click then treat. Click, then treat. Click, then treat. Give your puppy a chance to chew and swallow the treat before you proceed to the next click.
Soon, your puppy should start looking at the hand with the treat as soon as they hear the click – SUCCESS! This will mean that their brain has associated that the click means a treat is coming.
Once your dog understands the click-treat process, you can use it to start signaling good behavior, only rewarding the positive actions. Just wait for your puppy to do the desired actions like sit or lie down, and then click-treat them immediately.
Your puppy may look confused about why they got a reward, but they will start trying to figure out which actions yield the click-treat. This gives your puppy control over whether they get a treat for their actions.
Puppies that are trained using clicker training will spend more time trying to do the right behavior. They understand cause and effect. Soon, your pup will be volunteering behaviors to try get you to treat them. Clicker training allows your dog to fundamentally train themself.