Clicker training is a powerful training method that can make training your Husky significantly easier.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about clicker training.
You’ll learn how clicker training works, why it’s the preferred training method by countless professional dog trainers, and you’ll learn how to start clicker training.
What Is Clicker Training
Training a Husky is all about reinforcing a behavior so that they continue to repeat that behavior in the future.
The easier it is for your Husky to understand what behavior you are rewarding, the faster they learn and the easier job you have in training them.
The challenge with training is that you need to clearly signal to your Husky at the right time what behavior you want to reinforce.
Clicker training uses a small device to clearly signal to a dog when they have performed a behavior you want to reinforce. By training your dog to associate the sound of a click with good behavior, it speeds up the learning process.
Clicker training is the preferred training method of so many professional dog trainers, and it’s easy to see why.
When combined with edible treats, it is a great way to positively reinforce good behavior and reward your Husky during a training session.
What is a clicker?
The only thing you need to start clicker training your Husky is a clicker.
A clicker, or marker, is a small plastic device that when clicked, emits a distinct sound that your Husky learns to recognize as a signal for good behavior.
The key point to remember with a clicker is that it produces a sound that your Husky is unlikely to hear in everyday life.
That’s why this tool is so useful – the sound that it makes can instantly be associated with training and will not be otherwise mistaken with a similar sound.
They are very inexpensive and can be purchased from any pet store or online store.
Check out some clickers here (link to Amazon).
How Does Clicker Training Work?
You should press the button on the clicker every time that your Husky does something that you are happy with.
They will then hear the clicking sound and associate it with a reward.
This will help to reinforce that they have done something correctly and they will be sure to repeat the action if they know that they will benefit from it.
Using a clicker allows you to ‘reward’ your Husky at the exact moment that they have done the correct thing.
Because the sound is so distinctive, when your Husky hears it, they will know that they have done something correctly (no matter how far away from you they are). They will know that that particular action was the correct one and will attempt to repeat it again for the reward.
For example, if you are trying to train your Husky to jump through a hula hoop, you would click the button on the clicker and also praise them the moment they get their body through the hoop. They will then know that you are pleased with this particular action.
Without a clicker, your Husky might be confused about what you are praising them for, particularly if they are on their way back to you. Are you praising them for returning to you?
Hearing the clicker as they go through the hoop reinforces that their action of jumping through the hoop was the right one and that they will receive a reward for their actions shortly.
Clicking at the exact right moment will eliminate any confusion on your Husky’s part (as long as they understand that the clicker sound means correct behavior and a reward).
What does the clicking sound mean?
The clicking sound doesn’t mean anything in particular- it is just a substitute for the reward that your Husky will receive for doing something correctly while training.
When your Husky hears the sound of the clicker, they will know that they have done something correctly and will soon be given an edible reward for their actions.
In this sense, the clicker becomes a bridge between the ‘reward’ and the receiving of the reward.
This also helps to ensure that your Husky knows exactly what they are being rewarded for.
That is why it is so important to be consistent with your clicking. The click must be timed perfectly so that your Husky knows precisely what they did correctly, and every click should always be followed by a reward.
How does clicker training help?
As mentioned earlier, clicker training helps your Husky to learn what they did correctly during training so that they know what they are being rewarded for and can repeat their actions again. It is a way to positively reinforce good behavior or actions.
Hearing the clicking sound at the exact moment of their success will provide clarity, and help your Husky to isolate the moment during training when they did something correctly.
This will then encourage them to do it again for another reward.
Why Use Clicker Training With Huskies
Clicker training helps Huskies gain a clearer understanding of what behaviors you’re rewarding. They make your training sessions easier and help your Husky learn faster.
Huskies are among the smartest dog breeds (even if it doesn’t seem like it at times), but even they can get confused about what they are being praised for during training.
That’s why clickers are such useful tools when training your Husky. Clickers make it easier for your Husky to understand what you want them to do.
When they hear the sound of the click, it gives them immediate feedback on what behavior you’re rewarding. They know that they have done the right thing during training, and they will strive to repeat their actions for another reward.
Using a clicker avoids the problem of inconsistent rewards during training- your Husky will quickly learn that the sound of the click means that they did something good.
Clicker vs Verbal Praise
A clicker provides a more consistent way to highlight and reward behaviors compared to other approaches such as verbal praise.
The click of a clicker always sounds exactly the same. That means your Husky will recognize the sound and associate it with feedback on their behavior.
Compare that to verbal praise. Any time you say “good job”, “yes”, “good boy” or any other variation, your Husky needs to briefly consider what you’re saying. All of these praises might make perfect sense to you, but to a Husky, each one is a completely separate sound and could be interpreted in different ways.
Verbal praise can also change depending on the tone of your voice. How enthusiastically you say your praise or your tone can vary, which can confuse your Husky. Even a slight change may slightly distract your Husky from what they should be focusing on – the behavior you’re trying to train.
The main point to keep in mind is that a clicker gives you a precise training tool. Yes, you can use other training methods such as verbal praise, but a clicker is the most precise and consistent training tool you can use.
Clicker Training Step-by-Step Method
Clicker training is very easy to do and greatly beneficial to your Husky. This step-by-step method will help to get you started:
- Introduce the clicker
- Reinforce a command
The first step you only need to do once, then you can repeat the second and third steps any time you want to train a new behavior.
Step 1: Introduce the Clicker
You need to teach your Husky that when they hear the distinctive sound of the clicker, there is an association with treats and rewards.
This will encourage them to do the correct thing, in order to hear the clicker and be rewarded.
One of the reasons some people give up on using a clicker and mistakenly think they don’t work is because they don’t properly introduce it. The clicker won’t magically work on the first use, you need to train your Husky to recognize what it means.
Here’s how to introduce a clicker to your Husky.
- Holding the clicker in one hand, and small bite-size treats in the other, click the button on the clicker once, and then immediately give your Husky a treat
- Repeat the action several times, giving your Husky a treat each time you click the clicker button
- Take a break and repeat the steps again in a few training sessions
- Repeat this until your Husky responds positively to the sound of the clicker every time
Make sure that in these initial stages you give them a treat every time you click the clicker, even if it is by accident.
The goal at this stage is for your Husky to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat. Once that association has set in, you can fade away the treats and your Husky will still associate the sound of the clicker with being rewarded.
The end goal is that instead of giving your Husky a treat every time you want to reward them, the sound of the clicker can be used instead. It might not seem like the sound of a clicker can be an effective substitute for a treat, but it will be once you properly introduce the clicker to your Husky.
If your Husky has had some training already, an excellent way to introduce the clicker into training is to use it to reward commands your Husky has already learned.
For example, if your Husky knows how to sit, give the command, then instead of saying your usual verbal praise, use the clicker.
Practice using the clicker to reinforce commands your Husky already knows before you try and use it on a brand new command. This helps your Husky get used to hearing the clicker during training.
Step 2: Reinforce a Command
Using a clicker to reinforce a command is the same as any other training method. The crucial point to keep in mind is the timing of the click. Make sure you click as soon as you see a positive step towards the behavior you want. If you click too late, it may not highlight the appropriate behavior.
Here are the basic steps to follow:
- Give a command
- Click the clicker as soon as you see a positive step towards the appropriate behavior
- Follow up the click with a treat (in the early stages of using a clicker)
- Get your Husky to stand up and then repeat the command, clicking and giving a treat again as soon as they obey
- Keep repeating the steps, but make sure you stop if your Husky shows any signs of frustration, boredom, or disinterest
- Take a break after a few repetitions and repeat the training session later following the same steps
If this is the first time you’re trying to train your Husky to do something, a good first command is to train your Husky to sit. Keep things simple and only introduce more complex commands once they have mastered some simple commands.
Step 3: Proofing
Once you are happy with how well your Husky is obeying a command, the final step is to ‘proof’ the training.
Think of proofing as stress-testing your Husky to make sure their training is strong enough to work anywhere and any time.
Your Husky may perfectly obey your new command at home, but what about in public? What if there’s another dog nearby? What if another person nearby is eating food?
Expecting your Husky to obey a new command at home is very different from expecting your Husky to obey the same command in a stimulating environment such as a beach or park.
If you want any new command to be rock solid, the training doesn’t end after step 2. Continue your clicker training and introduce distractions and train in different environments to further strengthen the command.
The good thing about a clicker is you can easily take it with you and give your Husky a clicker training session at any time.
Learn more about proofing and advancing your Husky’s training in this guide on Husky Training Tips.
Clicker Training Tips
Here are some simple tips to help you get more out of your clicker training sessions.
- Use small treats. You will be giving them a lot of treats in the early training stages and it’s easy to overfeed with some treats. Some people prefer to give meat pieces like cooked chicken but you can give them kibble if that is easier.
- Timing is crucial when it comes to clicker training. Make sure that you click DURING the desired behavior and not before or after. This will reinforce exactly which action was the correct one. It doesn’t matter as much when the treat is given, as long as it is after the click.
- Reward positive behavior. You can use the clicker to communicate to your Husky when their behavior has been good outside of training sessions. For example, if the doorbell rings and they keep all four paws on the ground instead of jumping up in excitement, you can click and reward them so that they know that this kind of behavior is acceptable and preferred.
- Only click once for each correct action. If your Husky’s behavior has been exceptional, give them more praise or a bigger treat rather than repeatedly pressing the button on the clicker. You want your Husky to only associate one click with praise.
- Try to keep your training sessions short. Short five-minute training sessions can be just as, if not more, effective than one long training session. They help to keep your Husky’s interest and prevent boredom.
- Use the clicker to ‘shape’ your Husky’s behavior. If they respond well to commands and the clicker, you can extend on their training. For example, if your Husky sits when asked to and you would like them to sit for longer, you can wait a few more seconds before clicking. They will then know that you wanted them to sit longer and will wait until the click before getting back up.
Clicker Training FAQs
Here are some common questions you might have about clicker training.
How Do I Start Clicker Training?
The best way to start clicker training is to introduce your Husky to the clicker. You need them to associate the clicker with a reward so to begin with, give them some edible treats and press the button on the clicker. Repeat this action several times. Soon, your Husky will start to associate the clicking noise with treats.
Once your Husky associates the clicker with treats, you can begin with some easy commands.
How Long Do You Use a Clicker for Dog Training?
For each new command you train your Husky, use the clicker for at least 2-3 months until they are able to follow the command easily and you are able to wean them off treats. Depending on your Husky, some commands may take a longer or shorter time to learn, so adjust the time you use the clicker accordingly.
What Age Should You Start Clicker Training?
You can start clicker training your Husky as early as 6 weeks old. The ideal time to start training them is when they are a puppy, but if your Husky is older, you can still introduce clicker training to them. It is an easy and effective training method for them to learn at any age.
Can You Use a Clicker for Bad Behavior?
Clicker training is for positive reinforcement so technically, it cannot be used for bad behavior. Instead, you can use it to highlight and reward your Husky’s good behavior and ignore them when they do something you are unhappy with.
Does Clicker Training Really Work?
Clicker training really does work if you use the method correctly. If your Husky understands that the clicking sound equates to being rewarded with a treat, they will do their best to please you and ensure that they get that treat. The only time it doesn’t work is if your clicking timing is off, or if you don’t provide edible treats when starting out with the training. This causes confusion for your Husky about what they have done correctly, and means that the clicking sound doesn’t entice them to work for a reward.
Why Do Dog Trainers Use Clickers?
Dog trainers use clickers because they help the dog they are training to learn the precise moment that they have done something correctly. If your Husky learns that the clicking sound means a correct behavior or action, and that they will get a reward when they hear the sound of the click, they will work harder to hear that sound again and get that reward.
Can You Use a Pen as a Dog Clicker?
It is not recommended that you use a pen as a dog clicker, or anything else for that matter. Unlike a clicker, which has a loud and distinct sound, a pen or other item will vary in sound and volume, causing confusion for your Husky. Dog clickers are readily available and very inexpensive so there is no reason not to purchase one (or several) if you plan to start clicker training.
Want to give clicker training a try? Read this guide on training your Husky to stay and use it as a starting point for your training.