Clicker Training vocabulary. Luring is using treats to guide behavior. Cue is a signal for a behavior. Target is an object the dog can aim for. Shaping is using small steps toward a full command. Loading the clicker is adding value to it.

In our first article on clicker training, we talked about what clicker training is and whether chihuahuas benefit from it. Clicker training has a lot of benefits, and it’s a great choice for working with small dogs. Once you decide you want to use this method for your training, the next step is learning how to load the clicker.

Before you can start shaping new commands, you’ll want to teach your pet that when he hears the clicker, he receives a treat. This is not hard to do. Has your dog ever barked at the doorbell? Mysteriously appeared, uninvited, at the sound of a cheese wrapper being opened? He’s already conditioned himself to have certain expectations from sound, without any outside help.

In this case, we want to intentionally teach him that the clicker means a treat. This is called, ”loading the clicker.” It is a 3 step process that shouldn’t take more than 1 or 2 sessions to complete.

You will need:

  1. The clicker
  2. 20 or so high value treats. I use hot dog slices cut into 9 pieces.
  3. A distraction free room.

How to load the clicker:

  1. Bring your dog to the distraction free room. I like the bathroom because it has a lock to keep littles out, it is very small, and there is absolutely nothing in it interesting to my dog.
  2. Click the clicker, and then immediately hand your dog a treat. You don’t have to lunge at his face, but make sure it’s the very next thing you do after clicking the clicker.
  3. Repeat this until all the treats are gone.

Most dogs figure out very quickly that the clicker means you’re going to hand him a treat. Once he’s figured that out, you can go on to using the clicker to shape the behaviors you want to do.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

7 thoughts on “How To Load A Clicker”
  1. This is great advice. I didn’t use a clicker with our previous dogs, but it has worked beautifully while training Lucifer. The second I pick it up he starts to get excited, which goes to show that it does a great job of further encouraging his love to learn. I’ve never had a dog so eager for training and so quick to pick things up before.

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