Dog clicker training is a technique to train animals that uses a “clicker” which is a box with a metal part that makes the sound “Click!”. It is also a philosophy because trainers that use this method don’t want to coerce or punish your GSD. Instead they use the behaviours freely offered by your GSD and rewarding the ones that they want to reinforce. It’s a positive and fun way to communicate with your GSD. Using this technique you can teach your GSD an infinite number of behaviours, commands, sports and manners. You can also clicker train your GSD to solve minor behaviour problems or severe aggression.
This dog training technique is easy for both you and your GSD because it starts with a very simple exercise. All you need is a clicker and some treats!
Dog trainers that use this technique study animal learning, which is important to understand the bases of this method. In clicker training we use two main learning principles: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
First you teach the dog the meaning of the sound “click” (classical conditioning) and then you will use this sound to mark and reward the behaviors you like (operant conditioning). It is simple enough and we can summarize it in these 3 steps:
If you repeat the steps above, your dog will learn to associate the dog bed with rewards and will start spending more time there.
Why is dog clicker training so popular? Because it works! And its fun, easy and positive. There are many myths out there concerning dog training, some trainers will tell you that certain dog breeds cannot be trained with positive methods because they need a firm hand, or you may think your dog is so stubborn that positive methods won’t work. This is not true for a very simple reason.
Remember I mentioned above that dog clicker training is based on learning principles (classical and operant conditioning)? Well, these principles apply to all animals! Yes, all of them from butterflies to lions to your kids to your mother-in-law! In fact, clicker training is a popular training method in zoos to teach animal husbandry behaviors (cut their toenails, medical care, etc.). So, trust me when I tell you that if a lion can be trained with this method, your dog can too!
Dog clicker training is actually a better technique for “aggressive” and/or “stubborn” breeds. Why? Because we are not forcing the dog to do anything he doesn’t want to do (if we did, we would be increasing stress levels which can motivate more aggresive behavior), we are simply rewarding behaviors the dog freely offers that we like. This way we increase the likelyhood of the behavior happening more often (and the ones that are not reinforced to happen less often). The secret, we give the dog a choice and if he picks the choice we like, we reward it. But it was the dog’s choice to begin with. This is extremely powerful, think about it from your point of view. Would you like someone to force you to do something or would you like to have a choice?
Dog clicker training has also become very popular because it encourages the dog to think for himself about what he is being asked to do. Instead of pushing him around with a leash, we let the animal figure it out!
And it’s fun!There is an immense sense of satisfaction just watching it all ‘click’ together for you and your GSD.(Pun intended)