Using the clicker during training
19 oktober 2021 
4 min. read

Using the clicker during training

The clicker is ideal for training dogs

During many of our seminars, I often talk about the clicker. Most people know the clicker, but not everyone trains with it and sees the benefits. We are 100% convinced of the functioning of this little tool and the benefits it brings when training our dogs.  

A clicker is a small object that, as the name suggests, you can use to make a clicking sound. They come in different shapes and sizes. Our preference is for a finger clicker. You can attach it to one of your fingers and thus have both hands free during training. The clicker always gives the same clear and distinct sound, which is easy for the dog to recognize.

With the clicker you can accurately mark the desired behavior and show your dog for which behavior he will be rewarded. By repeating this over and over again, you can get your dog to exhibit the same behavior in a short period of time and quickly teach an exercise.
Example of our finger clicker

The clicker in detection work

When teaching detection work we also use the clicker. At the first step we provoke the dog to go with his nose to the scent source. When this happens, we immediately use the clicker and reward the dog. By linking our food training system to this we can do a lot of repetitions in a short time and the dog understands after just one session what he needs to do to be rewarded. - Going with his nose to the scent and indicate it. -

If we teach these steps in a good way, we achieve within one or two days that the dog already uses his nose to find the smell. We have then made the first important step in our detection work system. We can then quickly build on this and within a short time the dog will be searching for a small scent source.

First step detection work

Mark exactly the behavior you want to see

But there are many more exercises or situations where the clicker is an ideal tool. For example, years ago I had a tremendously enthusiastic and happy 5-month-old dog that I was training for retrieving. My goal was for the dog to come and sit in front of me and retrieve the dumbbell to me in a correct way. However, because of his enthusiasm, the dog was very busy and kept moving his head back and forth while he had the dumbbell in his mouth.

I did not want to correct this behavior, because it is not desirable during the learning of an exercise. I therefore decided to use the clicker and mark and reward the desired behavior every time. I had planned to take two weeks of training for this, to train this properly.

I started the training with the clicker and with food and used the clicker every time the dog did not move his head. After a few repetitions and only 10 minutes of training, I had already achieved my goal. The dog understood what he had to do to get his reward. Sitting in front of me with the dumbbell in his mouth and holding his head still. Personally, I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, but the clicker turned out to be the perfect tool to solve this problem.


There are several options, but the clicker is the best

There are of course other markers you can use during training. For example, you can use the word "Yes" or some other sound or word, to confirm to the dog that he is doing the right behavior. But the advantage of the clicker is that it always makes the same clear and distinct sound to the dog. This allows you to mark exactly what you want and the dog learns tremendously quickly from his own behavior. 

About the author
My name is Dick Staal. Together with my son Sander I work daily with great passion and pleasure in our family business Dog Training Dick Staal. Sander's work is mainly focused on marketing, administration, customer contact and organizing seminars. This allows me to fully focus on my passion and that is training dogs, guiding people in their dog training and giving seminars. Since 1977 I have been training dogs on a daily basis. With over 40 years of experience I have developed a system in which we train our dogs positively with extremely fast results. I enjoy sharing this knowledge with other dog trainers and to see that they also achieve rapid success with our way of training. With my blogs I share this knowledge and I want to make everyone enthusiastic about our system. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and that you can gain many valuable tips from them!
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