A clicker is designed to enhance your dogs’ awareness when they do something right and they know this from associating it with a tiny food treat as a reward.
But do they hurt a dog’s sensitive ears?
- Used correctly, the clicker enhances training while being kind to most dog’s ears.
- It has to be loud enough to be heard by your dog in a noisy place.
- Although loud, it is not in the range of sound that will hurt their ears.
- The exception would be for some small puppies or sensitive dogs.
Clickers can range in tone. Some are quite soft, others louder, and some have a tinny-sounding click.
Admittedly, the louder clickers can disturb some young puppies or small dogs that have sensitive hearing. Therefore I recommend the use of a softer clicker for these animals.
But overall, most dogs are fine with the clickers. Even when they are at a park where other owners are using clickers as well, dogs only respond to their owner’s clicker.
That shows you how great their sense of hearing is to be able to tell the minute difference of the clickers.
If you train your dog right, the clicker soon becomes their best friend, as it leads to a small reward. And we all know how dogs love their food!
Observe your dog’s response to the clicker
If your dog runs away or cowers when they hear the clicker, that particular clicker may be a bit harsh for them. Some puppies or small sensitive dogs may find the clicker a bit unnerving.
You can overcome this by wrapping the clicker in cloth so that the noise is muffled. Or you could get another clicker with a quieter sound.
An alternative would be to use a ballpoint pen and use it as a clicker to train your sensitive pup as it doesn’t have such a decisive, loud click.
With patience and repeated use, your dog will come to know the sound will not hurt them. Once they become used to the sound and get rewarded with a treat, they become enthusiastic pups.
Dogs can be greatly influenced through their stomach as they are always on the prowl for treats.
So don’t panic if at first you don’t succeed.
Be patient and keep trying. Once your dog gets to know that after a click, a reward is given – they will become more willing to hear the sound.
Check Their Ears if They’re Sensitive to the Clicker
If your normally happy dog becomes a bit timid when you click the clicker, they may have an ear infection that is causing any loud sound to make them cringe.
A dog who spends a lot of time outdoors is more prone to ear infections than an indoor dog.
It is worth inspecting inside their ears as they may have a bacterial infection, or a seed head may have buried itself into the ear lining and need removing. Infected ears often have a bad smell, but not always.
Other signs include pawing at their ears or kicking their ears with their hind legs. The ears are very sensitive, especially the inner ear, so be careful checking the ears in case you cause damage.
Perhaps your dog is not feeling well – they may have eaten something that has made them feel sick. I am sure we can all relate to how that feels. You can’t be bothered with loud noises – they make you cranky, and you feel like hiding away.
A dog who is feeling poorly will just want to curl up in a nice quiet place and be left alone. They don’t want to hear the clicker, and the giveaway is that they are not interested in getting a treat.
So if your dog’s reluctant response seems to be towards the clicker, investigate a bit deeper. It could be a hidden health issue and not the sound itself.
If you have any doubts or concerns it is time for a veterinary check out to ensure they are fit and well, before tackling any more training.
Introducing your dog to the clicker
The clicker is designed to be a signal that a treat is coming, it is not the treat in itself.
You have to click the moment your dog is doing what you want them to do, not before or afterward. It is designed to be used at the exact moment your dog is doing the right thing.
But first, your dog has to be introduced to this new thing, the clicker.
Here is how you do it.
- Start in a quiet room, holding a treat in one hand, and the clicker in the other.
- Press down on the clicker button once.
- When your dog turns to look at you – at that moment toss them a treat immediately.
- You will need a supply of treats nearby since you are going to be repeating this step many times.
- Vary the amount of time that you hold the treat in your hand before you click again.
- Your dog may try to sniff your hand and get at the treat, but just keep your hand closed and wait until they get bored and wander away from the treat, then click again.
- Once they get used to the clicker and treat system, then you are ready to start training them.
The Purpose of Using a Clicker
The clicker was designed to be safe for your dog’s ears, and it is an easy and effective way of teaching your dog what you want them to do.
There are many makes of clickers around, so just test a few out while you are in a store, to see what one suits your dog.
Used positively, the clicker is a distinctive sound that marks a behavior (or command), and then the dog is rewarded for doing that task.
The clicker promotes good behavior such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ when you command them to do this task.
Instead of vocalizing your commands all the time, you use the clicker to get their attention or to catch them doing what it is you want them to do.
Your dog will soon catch on that if they sit on their butt the moment visitors arrive rather than jump all over them, it will please you, and they will be rewarded.
You must use the clicker the moment their butt hits the floor though, so they associate the click with sitting and waiting. Once they get used to sitting when guests arrive, you can wean them off the reward, and offer praise and a pat instead.
Do not use the clicker to focus on inappropriate behavior, as your dog will come to fear the clicker, especially if you growl at them. You won’t change their behavior, but will cause them to become more sneaky and still do the deed when you are not looking.
Don’t click if they pee on the floor then yell at them. It will only confuse and intimidate your dog. They will become fearful of the clicks, and you will have defeated the purpose of the clicker use.
Use your clicker to click when they hop onto a toilet pad or squat outside to pee and reward them for it.
You want to focus on the good things so they want to please you more and play down their mistakes. It takes young dogs a bit of time to learn what pleases you, so give them ample time and patience.
Remember, kind clicks will teach your dog new tricks.
The Final Click!
The clicker is harmless. It doesn’t hurt your dog’s ears. It does get their attention as the click is loud to them but not painfully so. The sound becomes a challenge to your dog to do lots of good things for you so that they get lots of mini treats.
The thing I love about dogs is that they are always so willing to try to do what you want them to.
But we both speak different languages, so the translation of your commands can become distorted. It takes time and effort for your dog to understand what you want.
This is where the clicker comes into its own. That decisive attention-grabbing click when reinforces their good behavior, and they become used to the clicker.
Your dog will learn to listen for the clicker, listen to what you say, and eventually, they will learn that trick, or obey that order.
When you give them an order, make it clear and precise.
As an example, if you want your dog to sit, just say SIT or SIT DOWN and make a movement with your hand to symbolize the downward movement.
If you say ‘Please puppy, would you sit down for just a small moment – that would make me very happy,’ you will have lost them after the word puppy. Clear and simple words combined with a definitive click when they comply is all you need.
Life with a well-trained dog is bliss. The clicker makes it possible to shorten the training period and becomes an effective tool for you to manage your dog.
Writer: Jean Brewer