You can start clicker training at any age. Even a puppy will soon get the hang of clicker training etiquette. Adult or senior dogs have more established personalities than a puppy, but all dogs – young and old – can learn clicker training.
- You can begin training with a clicker for puppies as young as ten weeks of age.
- Both adult and senior dogs can be clicker trained.
- The clicker is harmless and is a positive tool to reinforce good behavior and learning tasks.
- Puppies learn easier. Adult dogs take longer to learn new things.
Some puppies as young as ten weeks of age have learned to do tricks just as easily as an older dog. But the lessons need repeating often as they don’t have good memory retention at that age.
Puppies are so willing to please, and they are like little sponges. They are always looking for something fun to learn. Training is a great way of getting them to use up their sometimes destructive energy.
Positive reinforcement during training offers the additional benefit of making the training fun.
Through physical and mental stimulation, aided by a treat, you can develop good behavior from your dog.
When your pooch focuses on the click, they will soon associate the click with the task, knowing that a treat is on its way.
When training a young puppy, be aware that they find it hard to focus because there are so many wonderful diversions. But the click will get their attention and focus back on the task.
When they associate parking their butt on the ground to the click sound, and then a treat, you will have their full attention.
Puppies are Easier to Clicker Train
Dogs are instinctively curious, eager to try new experiences, and are very good learners. Watch your dog or puppy when they are awake.
They are continually learning, observing their environment, and responding to what they see, hear or smell.
Young puppies are eager to learn, curious, and in essence, they have a clean slate. This means that you don’t have to battle against previously learned behavior.
While your puppy is eager to learn, they do have a short attention span. In other words, if the training isn’t interesting, they will lose interest and wander away.
They require short, fun sessions of learning. Clicker training has the bonus of rewards, which will help to keep your puppy’s attention. While a puppy may be the keenest to learn, they need many repetitions to remember what they learn.
Young dogs tend to learn more quickly with fewer wrong choices than older dogs.
Adult or senior dogs learn a bit slower, but the training session can be longer, so they remember what they learn. The older dog is mellow in behavior and is used to some form of expectation, so they are easier to teach.
Female dogs are quick learners. They don’t need as much training and make fewer errors to learn a task than a male dog.
Whether you have a puppy, an adolescent dog, an adult, or a senior dog, they are all capable of learning regardless of age.
Some breeds learn quicker than others too. The Border Collie is a whiz at learning. They have excessive energy and a high incentive to learn.
Whereas the Labrador would rather eat than do training, they are good with clicker training due to the reward after the click.
The Greyhound is known for its aloof, catlike behaviour who responds only to positive incentive methods such as food rewards. Clicker training without any distractions, using positive commands, and adding plenty of praise and small treats will motivate this athlete.
Whatever the age, the general agreement is to start slowly with short spells of training, then grow the timeframe once they get the basics right.
Keep it fun, reward often, and be positive and kind during training. Your dog will love to please you and play your silly games.
Clicker Training is Good For All Ages of Dogs
The clicker is a popular method of training because the click gets your dog’s attention immediately, and there is a reward for your dog for their positive behavior after the click.
The click and reward is a fun way to train and dogs, regardless of their age, love to do fun things. A boring training routine will have your dog sneaking off the second you aren’t watching.
Your dog loves new fun challenges – they like to learn as long as it is enjoyable. If it becomes a chore, then your dog – regardless of age – will quickly disappear and find something far more interesting to do.
Puppies love new things. They respond well to new tasks to learn, especially when you lavish them with praise for doing well. But they take longer to retain their training, so they need lots of repetition.
Adult dogs also like praise for doing well. They will be like putty in your hands if you make training fun.
And what about you? Your reward for your patience results in a well-behaved dog or puppy that you can take out in public without fear of them “going deaf” and taking off to attack someone’s picnic basket!
A puppy or dog that behaves and follows your commands even with so many distractions is a pleasure to be with.
Pair Clicker Training with Rewards for Best Results
The good thing about clicker training is that it is easy to incorporate into your dog’s training routine regardless of their age. The following applies to both puppies or adult dogs.
Let’s get started.
- Gather all you need, such as your clicker and your dog’s favorite treat.
Small treats are best, as you don’t want to ruin your dog’s healthy diet.
- Introduce your dog to the clicker by just making a few noises to get their attention.
Then – hand over a treat. This is to teach your pooch to connect the clicking sound to the treat. Repeat this step often before moving on.
- Repeat the click and reward process every time your puppy completes an action or trick.
As an example, if your puppy goes out with you to their toilet area, click the moment they go to the toilet. Then wait till they are finished and offer a reward. When you repeat this often, they associate toileting in a certain spot or area as a positive action that gets them a treat.
- Use verbal cues once your puppy starts getting interacting with the clicker.
Continue with the clicker training while adding in the verbal cues. Remember the reward.
- Finally, start to eliminate the clicker once your pooch masters a trick or command. Replace the click with an emphatic “good boy/girl” and belly rub to show them that yes, they did the right thing.
You can use the clicker to teach an older dog new tricks too. They never outgrow wanting to please you or their love of treats.
A puppy needs to repeat things many times to remember the task, so you will need patience.
Praise is your puppy’s second favorite thing (food is often first), so it is a powerful tool to turn your puppy into a master obedience trainee.
Always be positive and affirming with your puppy or dog.
Try to downplay their mistakes (even if you caught them chewing your best shoes that YOU left on the floor) while highlighting what they do right.
Puppies and dogs all respond best to praise, cuddles and kindness.
Choose an Easy-to-Use Clicker that Your Dog can Hear
There are so many types and sizes of clickers on the market. You will need to shop around to find one that suits you and your dog.
A small puppy only needs a medium sound, whereas a senior dog needs a stronger toned clicker as they may be hard of hearing.
Here are some suggestions that may help you to choose:
- Check the clicker has an audible, distinctive sound. If your dog can’t hear it, there is not much point in using one.
Clickers all vary in sound and volume so check out a few varieties to find your favorite.
- It should be easy to use. You need to be able to click the button quickly, so look for a raised button.
- The size of the clicker matters. A small teardrop-shaped clicker that fits easily into your palm for use is best.
- Check for a wristband that makes the clicker easy to carry and use.
Small tasty treats stashed in a handy waist pack allow easy access, and they are easy to tote around with you.
Also grab a whistle so that if your puppy or dog goes out of range of your clicker, you can whistle them back. You will need to train your dog to come to the whistle using the clicker.
There are so many books and blogs out there about tricks you can teach your dog. Check out this site for more information.
Dogs of All Ages Can Be Clicker Trained
From a puppy to the oldest senior, dogs are always willing to learn. Age is only an indication of how fast they learn, and health is a measure of how fast they react.
One thing dogs of all ages have in common is their willingness to please.
They continue learning throughout their life, albeit a bit slower as they become senior dogs.
Writer: Jean Brewer