Usage instructions and training tips
To open and close the Clik-R Clip:
Please note: Failure to open and close the device properly may cause damage to the housing, which can lead to malfunction.
- Press and slide the top shell back.
- Lift the back portion of the top shell and pull the shells apart.
- Lay your pet's leash on the bottom shell.
- Insert the metal bar on the top shell into the grooves in the bottom shell.
- Press shells together. Use care not to pinch your fingers during assembly.
- Push the top shell forward until the metal bar snaps into place.
We all want to have well-behaved pets, and to maintain a wonderful relationship with them. Clicker training is an effective method for training, and is very safe and humane. When your pet learns to offer behaviors you like in exchange for a reward, it is a win-win situation. Training will become a fun activity you both enjoy!
With clicker training, a sound is used to mark the exact behavior we like, and then followed immediately with a reward. The reward is usually a tasty food treat. Soon, the sound begins to predict the reward - the pet begins to understand that when he hears that sound, it will be followed with a reward.
Why use a Clik-R sound instead of your voice?
Using a consistent sound has several benefits over a spoken word when teaching your pet a new behavior.
The sound is unique when used only during training, unlike our voice, which the pet hears all the time.
The sound is consistent. It sounds the same every time and has the same meaning - a reward is coming - every time. Our voice can say the same word in very different ways and often does due to our emotions and meaning.
The sound is clear. We often string many words together like, "Oh, what a good doggie!" making it difficult or impossible for an animal to pick out a clear marker to indicate the correct behavior.
The sound is precise. The sound is short and can mark the smallest and most subtle behaviors like a glance or turn of the head. The precise sound can improve our timing when marking the exact behavior we want.
All about rewards
During clicker training, we often use a small, tasty food treat as the reward promised by the clicker sound. However, each animal will determine what is rewarding to them. One animal may find a small piece of freeze-dried liver a very high-value reward, while another may prefer a bit of cheese. The reward you use must be reinforcing to the animal you are working with, and each animal will have a hierarchy of rewards. As the trainer, you will want to experiment and find several things your pet likes, and determine which he or she likes best and least.
Always prepare for a training session by gathering a few different types of rewards. Small, semi-moist bites of cheese, hot dog, liver, etc., are good choices to try because many pets find them very yummy and they don't require much chewing. Remember to consider your pet's diet, calorie count and any allergies when choosing food rewards. Plan the food as part of their daily allowance to maintain a balanced diet. Don't forget "life rewards" such as a chance to fetch a ball, play a game of tug, toys, petting and praise. These can be very valuable and useful as part of your training. While the tasty treat is often easiest and thus best choice for clicker training, don't rule out the life rewards!
Practice your timing
If you are new to clicker training, you will want to practice your timing away from your pet before you do any training. If you want your pet to understand the click, your timing of the click needs to be precisely at the moment he is performing the wanted behavior.
You will need your Clik-R Clip and a tennis ball (or similar ball) to practice.
- Hold the Clik-R Clip in one hand and the ball in the other.
- Toss the ball and click at the exact moment it hits the floor.
- As your timing improves, try to click the first bounce and the second bounce, etc.
- The next step is toss the ball and click when the ball is at the highest point in the air. This is more difficult as there is no sound of the ball hitting a surface to help you.
How is your timing? Practice these until your timing is good.
Some people prefer to hold their Clik-R Clip in one hand versus the other, but we want to suggest it is helpful to practice with the device in each hand. Becoming ambidextrous with the tool will make it easier to accommodate different exercises as you train.
Tip - Keep your movement to a minimum and your voice quiet. The pet should focus on the click. Extra movement and noise by you, the trainer, will be distracting.
Before you begin
Start by setting everyone up for success:
- Train when your pet is somewhat hungry.
- Ensure any "potty needs" have already been met.
- Work in a space that is not too exciting or overstimulating.
- If necessary, restrict the pet's movement with a harness or leash, or even using a crate to manage the pet's movements.
If the pet is not interested in interacting with you, be patient and take it slow. If progress doesn't pick up
within a few minutes, take a break and come back to work again later.
Give the click meaning
We need to make an association between the click and the treat reward for the pet. Once your pet learns the click predicts a reward, you will have a powerful training tool.
Note - don't wave the Clik-R Clip around or point it at the pet. The sound is the marker and the pet does not need to see it to hear it. Hold the Clik-R Clip by your side and don't draw attention to the device. To make this association, along with your pet, you will need:
- The Clik-R Clip properly attached to your dog's leash.
- Some tiny, very tasty treats (consider daily caloric intake and allergies)
- An indoor space free of distractions.
- Use a lead to keep your pet from wandering if necessary.
This exercise is only to make the association, not to train a specific behavior. However, you don't want to inadvertently reward a behavior you don't like, so wait until the pet is simply standing or sitting near you. To begin simply click and then immediately give the pet one treat. The treat should follow the click within a second. Repeat this six to ten times, one click followed by one treat.
The pet will start to notice the click predicts a treat very soon. You may notice the pet becomes excited just from hearing the sound. It is important to remember the click is a promise. If you click, you should treat. Don't worry if you make a mistake. Your timing and skill will improve quickly.
To Capture or to Shape?
If your pet already does a cute behavior you would like to practice so you can get him to perform "on cue," we would call that "capturing" the behavior. Put the pet in a situation where he is likely to perform the behavior, and then click at the moment the behavior happens to "mark" that behavior. As always, follow the click with a treat. Because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated, the pet is likely to offer that behavior again.
Once you can get the behavior reliably, you start to add a word or hand cue just before the behavior is likely to happen. Before long, that cue will indicate to your pet that you are willing to "pay" for the behavior. Practicing the cue and behavior followed by the click and treat will solidify the behavior.
If you are looking to instill a new behavior in your pet, you may need to "shape" the behavior if the pet is not already offering it. In "shaping" a behavior, the trainer will reward the pet for increasingly better attempts (also called "successive approximations") of the desired behavior. Choose small or preliminary steps toward your end goal, then little by little, reward better and better attempts. Your pet should learn quickly if you repeat a few sessions each day.
One example of shaping behavior would be to invite the pet to lie on a mat. At first, the trainer could click/treat when the pet looks at the mat, then steps on it, then sits on it, then lies down.
Set criteria when shaping
When shaping new behaviors, you will need to set criteria for each of the small steps on the way to the final behavior you will reward. Don't be intimidated! You make these kinds of choices every day as you drive, cook dinner or multi-task at your desk. You want to move through the process at good rate so don't worry about perfecting each step along the way. Each step is a temporary criterion and if the pet is getting it right 7 or 8 times out of 10, move on to the next step. You don't want the pet to get stuck performing the intermediate steps because they have been rewarded so highly for doing so.
You also don't want to move too fast. If you up your criteria and your pet gets too frustrated or loses interest, back up a step.
Sometimes a pet will leap ahead and perform the final behavior early in the training. Yeah! Click and treat! Don't be so set on your plan that you don't recognize a breakthrough like this. Save a jackpot for those special moments.
Many trainers use a jackpot to reward an especially well done behavior or a training breakthrough. A jackpot can be applied as follows:
- Give a small handful of treats at one time.
- Give a higher value treat, like a small piece of cheese, instead of the dry kibble you are using.
- A slightly larger piece of a treat can be a jackpot.
- Have a party - toss a few treats and add some play, favorite toy, or a belly rub.
Many people like to end the training session if a jackpot moment happens. It ensures the session was successful and keeps the pet eager to keep training.
Keep the sessions short
The best training sessions are only 3 to 5 minutes in length. Take breaks in between the sessions. During the breaks, relax and play with your pet. You can string a few short sessions together with short breaks in between. You can train a longer session if your pet is still focused and enjoying the session. However you don't want your pet to become uninterested or full of treats. Stop training while your pet is still interested in doing more.
One marker - one reward: Three rules to keep in mind
Teaching "Look at Me"
- If you make the click sound, you must reward. Always.
- Make only one click sound per appropriate behavior. In other words, do not use multiple sounds to try to convey your excitement at a particularly good behavior.
- If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. Reward the pet (following rule #1), and move on. Either take a break to collect yourself, or refocus and continue with the training from there on.
Training your pet to focus on you is not only easy to do with the Clik-R Clip but can be very helpful in training other skills later on. This simple skill will enforce the association with the Clik-R Clip sound and give you a chance to practice your timing.
Now that you are ready, watch your pet. If she looks at you, click and treat. She may not understand what she did to earn the reward yet.
When she makes eye contact again, click and treat. After a few repetitions, she will start thinking that maybe just looking at you earns a treat. She will probably like that and start looking at you more often.
Keep rewarding every time she makes eye contact. Eye contact = click = reward!
Once the pet is performing the look behavior consistently, you can add a cue. A cue can be a hand signal or a verbal signal to perform the behavior. For example, the cue for a pet to place their butt on the floor is usually "sit." Your cue for eye contact could be "Look" or "Watch Me." The choice is yours - because pets don't speak, you can call it anything you want. Another option is to use a hand signal or movement.
Teaching to Target
We will start by teaching the dog a nose touch to your hand, which will not only establish a target for teaching spin but can later be used for a variety of behaviors where you need the dog in a certain position.
To teach this target, place your hand about 4 or 5 inches in front of your dog's nose. Most dogs will sniff your hand. When your dog's nose touches your hand, click and treat. Repeat this several times. If your dog shows little interest in touching your hand, practice a couple times with a treat in the target hand to get the game started.
As the dog begins to quickly touch your hand for the click and treat, begin moving your hand slightly farther away and to different heights and sides. Each time the dog touches the hand target, click and treat. If the dog is slow to respond (more than three to four seconds), remove your hand target for a couple seconds and offer it again a little closer. Focus on getting several quick repetitions in a training session.
You will quickly see how establishing a target behavior will aid in teaching recall, loose leash walking, and much more.
Loose Leash Walking
No one enjoys walking with a dog who pulls constantly on the leash. Teaching your dog to walk beside you on a loose leash can be accomplished with your new clicker skills. If you have worked on the 2 previous sections, "Look at Me" and "Targeting," you can use these skills to help you with loose leash walking. Having your dog's attention like during "Look at Me" and/or using a target to keep your dog beside you during the walk will keep the leash loose for a pleasant walk.
You can also use the Clik-R Clip to click the dog when he is walking beside you and give a treat reward by your side. If the leash is pulled tight, simply stop walking until your dog turns to you or returns to your side, then click and reward. For most dogs, a treat reward works best. With some dogs, the chance to continue walking is enough. We suggest you start with a treat reward and fade it out as the dog performs the behavior consistently.
Dogs sit naturally so all we need to do is teach them to sit when asked. You have some options on how to teach sit. Consider both and decide which will work for you.
Because dogs already know how to sit, you may just catch them doing it. In this case, watch your dog closely and when he sits, click and reward with a treat. After you have rewarded him a couple times, he may start offering a sit because it paid off with a yummy treat. Now you can add the cue "Sit" with the action of sitting. Say "Sit," wait for him to do it, and click as soon as it happens. Follow the click with the treat reward. Soon he will associate the verbal cue "Sit." As you practice, remember, you only need to say the cue once. Do not repeat the word "Sit" several times. If he doesn't sit when you say the word, step back for a few seconds and calmly try again or try the method below.
Another way to teach "Sit" is with the help of a food lure. Do not use a verbal cue until the dog is performing the behavior easily. Begin with 3 or 4 small pieces of food in your hand. Lure your dog's nose up and slightly back. This usually encourages them to put their bottom on the floor. When he does, click and reward with one piece of the food. Repeat this with the remaining food you are holding. Then try one with an empty hand. When he sits, click and reward with a treat from your pocket. Your hand motion is actually becoming the cue for "Sit". Once your dog is performing the "Sit"consistently with the empty hand you may begin adding the verbal cue "Sit," and fading out the hand motion. To add the verbal cue say "Sit," then quickly follow it with the hand motion. Continue to click and reward the behavior. When the dog is responding quickly to the word "Sit"before you even start the hand motion, you can simply stop using the motion.
Train no jumping/lunging
Dogs often develop unwanted behaviors such as jumping, lunging, and barking. These behaviors can be due to excitement, anxiety, or frustration in relation to people, other dogs, and events. These behaviors can often be eliminated with the use of clicker training. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to train the dog to do behaviors you like, such as sit and/or stay. A dog that is sitting cannot be jumping and a dog that is performing stay cannot be lunging and barking at other dogs, people, wildlife, cars, etc.
We recommend starting this training in a quiet place with minimal distractions. Start by teaching your dog to sit on cue as explained in the "Teaching Sit" section. To add "Stay" to this, you would cue the sit, then wait a few seconds before clicking/rewarding. Once your dog can hold the position for several seconds, you can add a verbal cue, "Stay" and wait a few more seconds before click/reward. During the early training of "Stay," your dog may pop up early. Try to always click/reward before this happens. But if it does, just cue the "Sit" again and click and reward a short stay before moving to a longer one. Once your dog can stay for at least 5 seconds, begin to add the cue "Stay" after he sits. Increase the length of the stay slowly so your dog will continue to be successful. As this training progresses, increase the length of the stay until your dog can hold the stay 30-40 seconds before the click and reward. Once the dog can do this, you will want to start adding some distractions, such a training near a park or having friends walk by. Start with these distractions at a distance, which allows your dog to continue being successful at holding the stay. Gradually move closer or have the distractions move closer to you. Click and reward the moment your dog looks at a distraction without leaving his stay. This will teach your dog he can hold stay with a variety of things going on around him, and that not reacting to them is more rewarding than chasing, jumping, and lunging at them. This type of training may take several short sessions, but will give your dog skills and manners that last a lifetime and make him a more pleasant, well-behaved dog.
Some dogs may have more serious reactivity issues and require the help of a training and behavior professional. If your dog continues to have serious problems with lunging and reacting to anyone or anything, please seek the advice of a training professional near you.