There are different commands one can use when using the Clicker Training method of training a dog. They do not have to be verbal commands and are actually used in their stead. You could say the word “sit” and then click when the dog sits or even performs half of the act, to let them know that they are doing something right. The clicker correctly identifies proper behavior. Because the clicker is faster than verbal praise, or speech of any kind, it is more precise. In the time it takes to say “good boy” to a dog, the dog may perform the desired behavior and then move to an unwanted response, before the praise has time to register. In this situation, the dog can’t tell if the trainers liked the “sit” or the “jumping up on the trainer” that occurred a split second later. The clicker can also take the place of the actual treats. Just as verbal praise has the capability to satisfy any dog in the absence of treats, the clicker can motivate the dog to work when nothing else is being used.
Dog commands when using clicker training helps to define the end of the behavior. When teaching a dog to stay, for instance, the click indicates how long the dog must remain in one spot before reinforcement is possible. A common training practice is to chant commands while attempting to push, pull or tug the dog into the desired position. For instance, the trainer says “Sit, Sit, Sit” while pushing the dog’s rear end to the ground. With this method, the dog is required to choose between paying attention to the trainer’s words and learning the behavior. This practice often leads to one of two problems. Either the dog understands the behavior but must be told several times to do it, or the command is obeyed instantly, but in a shoddy fashion. If teaching the command and the behavior consecutively causes poor performance, the obvious solution is to teach them separately. Since a command without a behavior is pretty useless, a reasonable order would be to teach the behavior first, and then add the command. While this may sound logical, the implications of this concept may seem foreign. If one does not talk to the dog first, how can the behavior ever be taught? If one trains silently, how does the command become linked to the behavior? Before the weirdness of this concept causes you to reject it right away, consider how you taught your first Click and Treat behavior. Your first goal was to select a behavior such as “shake” or “head turning” and reinforce each occurrence. After trying this a few times, your dog was offering the behavior on a regular basis.
It was after the dog started offering the behavior that it was suggested you add the cue, just before you thought the action was about to happen. As you tried this method, you probably found that teaching the behavior without chanting the command was incredibly easy, yet thinking about the concept somehow felt incredibly immoral. The secret to overcoming this problem is simple, stop thinking about it and just do it. There is no need to bark a command or yell it. Your dog is absolutely capable of hearing a potato chip when it hits the carpet, or a word, spoken in a normal tone. For sensitive dogs, a yelled command may actually be interpreted as a reprimand. Make sure that you only give a command once. Saying “Sit” repeatedly will eventually require always repeating yourself with everything. A dog can perceive a spoken command or hand signal with equal ease. Hand signals are best given so that the movement of your hand or arm is in silhouette. If you are back lighted or wearing clothes that match your skin shade, your dog will have trouble discerning the movement. You want to make it easy for the dog to see what you are doing and not in a way that it thinks it is getting in trouble for something. To teach a hand signal, merely present it before you say the spoken command. Once you start adding the cue, stop reinforcing behaviors that are not asked for or looked for. Your goal is to tell the dog that he must pay attention to what you say. You can have many signals for a behavior, such as a hand signal, whistle or spoken word. When it comes to Dog commands for clicker training, each command must be recognizable from every other command. You do not want to say one command, but have the dog think it is a different command because they sound too similar in sound.