All Things Dog

Clicker Training for Standard Poodles

As a Poodle owner, you may have heard about clicker training. What exactly is this popular new training technique? Very simply, clicker training involves using a small plastic box with a piece of flexible metal in it that makes a distinctive clicking sound when pressed. When the dog does what you want him to do, you CLICK and give him a treat. Clicker training works with all breeds—and you may have excellent results with your Standard Poodle, because this breed is known for its intelligence and trainability.

Interestingly, the concept of clicker training didn't begin with dog owners, but rather dolphin trainers, who used the technique to get their sophisticated trainees to do complex tricks. It quickly spread from dolphins to zoo animals and finally to dog trainers, who used this positive reinforcement method to revolutionize traditional training techniques.

Clicker training can be more effective than verbal commands for a simple reason: Poodles are very perceptive to body language and tone of voice and, as a result, can receive mixed signals from people who are trying to train them.

Clicker Training 101

Before you start your training session, equip yourself with a clicker (available at pet stores) and a lot of small, tasty treats. It's important that your Poodle learns to associate the CLICK with the treat. Eventually, he will understand that he's being rewarded for whatever he's doing when he hears the CLICK. Because dogs tend to repeat behaviors that get them a reward, your dog will likely repeat whatever he was doing when you clicked.

5 tips for quicker clicker success

  1. Train your Poodle before mealtime, when you know he's hungry.
  2. Perfect your timing—CLICK as the correct behavior is happening, not after.
  3. Reward your Poodle with small, tasty treats.
  4. Give him sufficient time to figure things out.
  5. Only CLICK once because overclicking can take the consistency out of the "click and treat" routine.

Above all, keep training sessions short: No more than five minutes is best. Studies have shown that successful clicker training usually takes significantly less time than with other methods. So, give it a try—and see if clicker training clicks with your Poodle.

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