Behavior & Training
The Basics of the Click
A clicker is a small plastic box with a metal 'tongue'. You use its 'click' sound to 'mark' or 'bridge' a behavior you WANT from your animal.
CHARGE your clicker by choosing a food treat your animal loves.
Count out 20 to 30 small pieces of food, put in a bowl near you.
Sit down with your animal close by and CLICK and TREAT.
Try to have no more than a half second delay between CLICK and TREAT.
DO NOT expect a certain behavior from your animal at this point.
Do this over and over until all the pieces of food are gone.
Make sure that you stick to the sequence of CLICK - half second - TREAT.
Word Click. Also pick a word that will be used to replace the Click when you do not have the clicker with you.
Charge it in the same manner as you did the clicker.
Two words that work great are: Yes or Excellent. Both are to be said very excitedly. Use emphasis on the beginning of each word. But remember that the Click is much clearer to your animal.
Now that the clicker is charged, you can start training. You will not have to stick to the sequence of CLICK - half second - TREAT as you are training. But try not to stretch the time much longer than a second or two.
Three ways to get a behavior started.
LURE AND CLICK is using a small piece of food to 'lure' or move your animal into the position you want. When the animal is successfully in that position you 'Click' and treat it with the food.
CAPTURE your animal doing a behavior you like. With your animal in the same room, you sit, watching TV or reading a book and watch your animal out of the corner of your eye. When it does a behavior you would like to keep, like sitting or laying down, CLICK and TREAT. Do this enough and the animal will begin to offer that behavior more often.
SHAPE a behavior. Start with a finished behavior in your minds eye, see all the details. Break the behavior down into small steps.
You can use 'lure and Click' or 'capturing' to get your animal to do the first small step of the behavior you've chosen to shape. CLICK and TREAT each successful attempt on each step, 4 to 5 times BEFORE you move on to the next step.
After you have your finished behavior exactly the way you want it, begin to increase the time between CLICK and TREAT or 'bridge' the time between behavior and TREAT.
Here you will need a 'Keep Going Signal'. This is praise. But keep it to one word, just to let the animal know that it is still doing the right thing - make sure you do not use the same word as your Click replacement.
When the behavior is perfect - give it a name.
Now begin to vary whether you give a TREAT or not.
Never let the animal know if it will be getting a CLICK and TREAT or a different type of reinforcement. If this is a session that you will not be giving a TREAT use your Keep Going Signal instead of the CLICK. You always reward your animal for a behavior well done: remember that chasing a ball, playing tug, getting to go for a ride, getting to go out the door, praise or anything else your animal likes is a reward.