“I tried clicking. But it does not work.”
Every now and then you hear sentences like this. If you then ask what exactly does not work, you often get the answer that the dog does not want to take a treat if, for example, he is about to mess with another dog.
This description of the problem suggests that the clicker is therefore often only used in a classic manner, which means that after a click there is a food reward.
However, a dog who is afraid, for example, can often not take any food at all (by the way, we humans cannot either. If we are afraid of a spider, a gummy bear will probably not be able to irritate us).
Anyone who does modern clicker training knows that a click does not automatically announce food. The click is just the announcement of a request. How this reward looks for each situation is as variable as the situation itself.
Rewards based on need
So let’s say our dog is afraid of approaching dogs. What would the dog really need in this situation? What would be an appropriate reward for good behavior in such a difficult situation? Lining? Or possibly avoiding the other dog, walking in the other direction or being allowed to seek protection from his human and possibly even letting him look at the other dog (so that he can be sure that he really does move away)?
What do we do when we are afraid of the nasty spider sitting on the wall? Do we eat an ice cream comfortably, do we look away (out of sight from our minds?) Or do we look as if we were spellbound, because only if we can see where the spider is going can we weigh ourselves safely or not.
So why not, for example, just click to calmly look at the other dog and, as a reward, take a bow, initiate a change of direction and let yourself look again and again (instead of forcing the dog to look us in the eye so that he can look at us proves its great bond)?
Instead, we continue to pull our dog impatiently in the direction of the threatening situation, the dog becomes aggressive and begins to mob because he doesn’t know how to help himself, and in response to his stupid behavior we declare him dominant, scolding him out or worse. Which will absolutely not change his behavior. On the contrary: if the dog learns that his behavior helps him and drives the “enemy” away (i.e. distance is created), he will solidify his strategy and use it more and more in the future.
Clicking (or better: marker training, i.e. working with marker signals such as clickers or marker words) is so much more than just a click plus food. The click can be followed by everything that the dog finds rewarding or that meets his needs:
Distance (for fear), distance reduction (for frustration), playing, running, caressing, gagging, a behavior that you like to show (such as scanning for Australian Shepherds), sniffing, digging, rushing, searching, swimming, yes, even Roll in the cow pate if he likes to do it and the owner has an enormous degree of olfactory tolerance.
The list of rewards is endless and just as individual as the dog itself. Because not every dog likes to be petted or played or or. Not even the same dog may be petted in every situation.
Not everything that is meant as a reward is also rewarding
So there is a single rule that we must observe for successful clicker training: The dog must feel the action following the click as reward or satisfaction. Only then will he learn to show the desired behavior shown earlier more often.
And that’s exactly what we want, isn’t it?
Good timing and fun for the dog
Clicker training works reliably in all situations and is the perfect method for humans to trick their slowness in rewarding and to show the dog precisely that he did something great, with the effect that the dog will learn quickly.
It’s a lot of fun for dogs. Because with the help of clicker training, positive emotions are generated. The dog will be motivated to participate. You can “click” on fearful objects because the dog learns: “Hey, every time another dog comes (and I stay calm), I am rewarded. So other dogs may not be that stupid. ”
Clicker training can help the dog through all difficult situations. So you can reduce fear, but also reduce frustration and improve impulse control, build tricks and learn to master every everyday situation in a playful way.
And with long-term success. Because if you enjoy learning, you won’t forget what you have learned so quickly.
Clicker training works!