Difficulty: Easy Prerequisite: None Items Needed: Clicker, Treats
After teaching your dog to respond to the clicker, you are now ready to use it to teach him many tricks and commands. Throughout the site, we demonstrate how the clicker can be used for both basic commands and more advanced tricks. If you want a well trained dog, one of the first things you need to teach is the most basic of commands: his name.
Basically, you want to "catch" good behavior with the clicker. What this means is that you want to train your dog that whenever you click (which means he has done something good.) The way we train the dog to respond to the clicker is simply by clicking and immediately treating the dog. It won't take your dog long to understand that whenever he hears the clicker he'll get a treat. This is an essential step in clicker training your dog. Another term that we will use is jackpot. This is an extra reward that you give your dog, usually when he has done exceptionally well or performed the trick perfectly for the first time.
Step 1: Ignore your dog until he looks directly at you. Click and treat. Step 2: Do this several times, eventually adding your dog's name right before you click and treat. Step 3: Continue doing this until your dog will look at you when you say his name.
With Caspian, I grabbed my clicker and tore some bacon into small pieces. The first thing that Caspian needed to know was that whenever he looked at me, I would click and he could get a piece of bacon. I started out just ignoring Caspian and all he was doing. He looked down for a minute, exasperated, and then back up at me. Suddenly, he heard a click, and a treat dropped to the ground. A bit surprised (and grateful), he immediately swallowed it and looked up again. CLICK! and drop. I threw it a bit farther away this time so he had to turn around. When he got his treat, he turned around to look at me, and I clicked and treated again. By this time I had started saying his name whenever he looked at me. "Caspian," click, treat.
Soon, I knew he was getting the idea of what was going on. I waited until he looked away and I said, "Caspian." He jerked his head over toward where I was sitting and I clicked and treated, giving him a big piece of bacon.
Why doesn't he remember tricks? Even though Caspian had learned his name by the end of the session, I continued to have training sessions with him just to reinforce the trick. It's so easy for a dog to learn a trick and do it every time today, but tomorrow it is forgotten. If we are patient and stick with it, our dogs will do the same and will eventually obey us every time.
Tip: "Always end before your dog gets tired. You want your dog to look forward to his training session. Sessions are more productive when they enjoy it."