When it comes to training methods, clicker training is the most exciting, relationship-building method available. There are as many ways to train dogs as there are trainers, some healthy for dog and human and some not.
For German Shepherd owners, hardly anything is as exciting as realizing your super-talented, beautiful friend is also able to understand what you want in literally seconds — rather than weeks of repetitive commands and endless tugs on the leash.
Training with a clicker doesn’t even require a clicker! Any short, sharp noisemaker will do; even making a “click” sound with your mouth works in a pinch.
We use a clicker instead of our voice because the clicker makes a distinct sound that only means one thing: a treat is coming! Our voices can vary in volume and pitch, and are applied in so many interactions with our dogs that they can have trouble understanding which behaviors earn a treat. Clicking when we see the behavior we want is like taking a picture of the behavior. Because each click is followed by a treat, the dog soon attempts to repeat the behavior.
Conditioning your dog to the clicker is a simple process. Grab a fantastic set of treats (10-50 will do), and click your clicker, then feed a treat. Repeat 10-20 times. Soon, your dog should be looking at you eagerly, anticipating a treat at the sound of the clicker…
BUT WAIT. You can easily misuse the clicker if you don’t understand what the clicker IS and what it is NOT.
The clicker IS:
- A promise that a treat is coming.
- An acoustical signal meaning “That’s correct!”
- A connection between the desired behavior and the reward.
The clicker is NOT:
- An attention-getting device.
- A remote control.
- A reward.