We have begun to work with the puppies individually for a few minutes at a time with a clicker and a little bit of ground beef rolled into tiny balls. First, we “click” and then we give the treat – classically conditioning the puppies to respond to the sound. The puppies learn in a pretty short time that the sound of the click ALWAYS means a yummy treat. We are not asking the puppy to do anything at this point, they are learning on their own that click means – a treat is forth coming – this is what is referred to as “Powering Up The Clicker”
By doing this, we are creating the “Pavlov Effect” and the puppy will get an overwhelming good feeling when he or she hears the clicker because he/she knows the treat is about to arrive! We want them to think that way when we click so that when we begin to “mark” a behavior, they can easily know which one response/behavior was correct or what we wanted, and then we have time to give the puppy food without missing that “window of time” that they need the treat to associate the behavior.
We have often been asked why we don’t just give food when the puppy does something right, why do we have to “mark” it with a sound or “click”? The reason is, a lot of the time, you cannot reward the puppy at the exact, correct time and so, by clicker training, you ensure you click RIGHT when the puppy does something right and the click conditions them to “know” a treat will be coming.
Once we have the clicker powered up and the all the puppies understand that the clicker is a reward and that food is about to come, we will start to train the puppies to offer behaviors to receive rewards!