What is clicker training? – Canine Behavior Counseling

Modern trainers use clickers to train their dogs because it aids in the animals understanding of what is rewardable. The animal quickly learns that when it offers the behavior again, it will be rewarded. This positive reinforcement approach will often cause an immediate “wow” moment for both handler and animal.

The clicker is a small hand-held gadget that emits a sound when you press it.  The sound the clicker makes is a signal to your dog that the behavior it just offered is rewardable.  This “click” is always followed by a food reward. Think: Click and Treat!  Note, the clicker is NOT for getting attention.

Since the click is always paired with a food reward, we call this training positive reinforcement. There is no need to punish the dog for offering the wrong behavior, be patient and quickly mark the right behavior when it is offered.

Teaching your dog to sit, using a clicker: 

  1. Begin with clicker and treats in one hand, and your dog near by.
  2. Start by clicking and tossing a treat to your dog, repeat a few times.
  3. Next, wait a few seconds to see if your dog will offer a sit. When his bum hits the floor, click and toss him a treat several feet away. Repeat by waiting for your dog to sit again, click and toss a treat. Repeat this several times.
  4. If your dog does not know how to sit, put a treat to his nose and raise it up over his head slowly. When his bum hits the ground, click and let him eat the treat. Repeat until your dog begins to offer a sit for the reward.
  5. Next, add the verbal cue “Sit” or a hand signal just before the behavior is performed, click for the correct behavior and reward.
  6. Repeat with cue added, click the correct behavior and reward.

Here is a video demonstration of me teaching my dog Pablo to target my hand and a novel object: Hand Target using a clicker

Why Does the Clicker Work?

  • The sound is the same every time; and is unique to other sounds the dog hears.
  • The clicker is the fastest way to accurately mark behavior. (I used it to teach my dog to sneeze, lick his lips and touch the Staples Easy Button).
  • The clicker is the fastest way to capture new behaviors your dog does.
  • It aids in keeping your dog in his thinking brain.

Will you always have to use the clicker?

No, you can replace the click with a happy, “yes” once your dog understands the behavior thoroughly. It is not a tool that triggers behavior, it just rewards good choices so they are repeated! 


sad signs for dogs



This was a very odd sign I found while walking Kompis one day while waiting for my car to be repaired.

And it got me thinking…   What other signs do dogs hate?

Here are a few other ones Kompis & I came up with!

keep out

Don’t tell me to stay out…  it only makes me want to go in!


But we ALWAYS go this way!

sad signs for dogs

But the best smells are over there!

Nooooo! The doggie store is closed!

Nooooo! The doggie store is closed!

sad signs for dogs

Noooo!  The vet is OPEN!

no dogs allowed

Why can’t dogs play here?

sad signs for dogs

We can’t look over the cliffs?

sad signs for dogs

We don’t need no stinking leashes!

sad signs for dogs

No dogs??!! But we love to go fishing!

What sad signs have you seen with your dog?

Proper Dog Etiquette – Petting Dog App

Is it appropriate to let your dog greet and play with every dog they meet on the street? Since dogs are social creatures, do they need to make new friends every day? What do you do if you’re walking your dog on leash and you’re approached by an off leash dog, especially if the dog doesn’t seem friendly? Pets West owner, Lisa, and I share the low down on this.

Bonus Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about approaching dogs, walk with a self-opening umbrella. That way, if a random dog comes running up to yours and you want to avoid the interaction, open the umbrella in the direction of the approaching dog and use it to keep a barrier between you.