Building clarity in communication with a clicker
One of the ways I give clear communication to my dogs is by using a clicker. The clicker instantly gives the dog feedback that what it did is correct.
What is clicker training? The term “clicker” comes from a small metal cricket noisemaker adapted from a child’s toy that the trainer uses to precisely mark the desired behavior. When training a new behavior, the clicker helps the animal to quickly identify the precise behavior that results in the treat.
Marker: A signal that through conditioning indicates a correct behavior that will result in reward. Typically, to be effective, the signal should be within 1.5 seconds of the behavior.
Event marker: A signal used to mark desired behavior at the instant it occurs. The clicker is an event marker.
I am going to give an example of how giving clear communication is critical in getting a dog to walk on a loose leash.
Problem: pulling on a leash
Goal: walk on a loose leash
Layer 1: Deciding where we want the dog to be at. Setting clear boundaries for the dog and what is expected of the dog when it’s on the leash.
Layer 2: Clicking and rewarding for the leash being loose
Layer 3: making sure that every time the leash in on the dog it is being rewarded for having zero tension.
Layer 4: making sure that you are keeping the same standards on what is expected of the dog when on the leash.
By giving the dog the correct information that when it’s on the leash it only will get rewarded for zero tension on the leash and remaining by my side. If the dog is given un clear communication that sometimes it can pull on the leash and be out of the set boundaries. Other times it must remain in the boundaries and keep zero tension on the leash the dog is very unclear what is expected.
Try this at home: put the leash on your dog if you take a step forward and there is zero tension on the leash click and reward. Only rewarding for loose leash walking. Watch how your dog starts to understand that the loose leash is what gets the reward.