Clicker Training for Dogs (cont.)
- After you add the cue, don't reward the behavior anymore unless you first give the cue.
- Practice a new behavior in many different places so that your pet learns how to do it everywhere. Start in calm, quiet environments and slowly work up to more distracting locations.
- After you've practiced a new behavior in several different places and your pet reliably responds to your cue, you can begin to cut back on rewards for that behavior. Reward only the best responses (like the highest paw raise), or reward the behavior under the most difficult or distracting conditions. You can also reward just because you haven't rewarded that behavior in a little while. Start using a variety of rewards, like your pet's dinner, access to outdoors, games, toys, access to playmates-anything your pet loves can be used as a reward!
- Clicker training should be enjoyable for both trainer and trainee. Don't train if you're in a bad mood, distracted or don't have time to finish a session. Keep sessions short and upbeat. You'll be amazed at what a terrific student your pet is.
- To learn more about training your pet, please see our articles, Training Your Dog and Training Your Cat. To learn more about clicker training, you can look for books and videos on the subject online or at your local bookstore. Here are some of our favorites:
- Click for Joy by Melissa Alexander
- Clicker Fun by Deborah Jones, PhD
- Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
- Take a Bow-Wow (multiple videos) by Virginia Broitman and Sherri Lippman
- Clicker Magic DVD by Karen Pryor
- If you have a dog, check out clicker training class for him. Many Certified Pet Dog Trainers (CPDTs) offer group and private lessons. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.
The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk.
If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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