There are many ways to practice your clicker mechanics. As KPA CTP Reanna Ali demonstrates, one way to practice clicker mechanics is to practice delivering treats to a plastic cup! To get started, hold a clicker in one hand and 10 treats in the other hand. Keeping your body still, hands at your side, click and then deliver a treat to the cup. Timing is everything. Your reinforcement delivery must be a separate and distinct action that follows the click—click and then treat. The treat follows the click swiftly, but the two actions do not overlap. Here’s how the sequence should look:
- Treat hand moves after the click, delivering the treat to the cup
- Treat hand moves back to your side
- Click, and then deliver another treat to the cup
Once you feel confident practicing with the cup, you can invite your dog to join in! Choose small treats that your dog loves so that the treats can be consumed quickly. It is also helpful to store the treats in a treat pouch instead of your hand so that your dog is focused on you and not the treats. Begin with a neutral body position and practice keeping your hands and body still as you click and deliver a reinforcer to your dog. By keeping your body still, the dog understands the information that is in the click; the message is not diluted by extraneous movements.
In the video, Reanna begins by clicking and delivering a treat directly to her dog’s mouth to ensure that her dog will accept the treat. She then progresses to tossing the treat to the floor. This helps reset the behavior, clearly communicating to the dog precisely which behavior earns additional clicks and treats!
For more ideas about how to get started training your dog, check out our blogs and the Dog Trainer Foundations course! The new Immersion version of the Dog Trainer Foundations course offers an even more personalized, structured learning experience plus five hours of coaching to help get you to the next step!