The moment you bring your brand new puppy, or puppy at heart, home, you may immediately be planning what to do with them; bring them to the park, play fetch off the end of the dock, go for endless walks, and, of course, cuddle constantly (they are one of the best heaters during the cold winter months!). One of the first things a dog owner wants to do after bringing home a new puppy, though, properly trains it to follow certain commands and behave appropriately, right? There are many strategies and tactics for training dogs, and it’s hard to know which one is best, especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. Currently, positive-reinforcement training techniques are more popular than negative training, and clicker training is a tried and true method that uses positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. This type of training is highly effective, and it is a fantastic option to train dogs as an emotional support animal or ESA. If you’re new to training dogs, or new to dogs completely, don’t worry – this guide will help you learn the ins and outs of clicker training your new pup in no time!
What Is Clicker Training?
Clicker training is a positive method of dog training in which the owner clicks a small remote control each time the dog shows the desired behavior. Every time the owner clicks the clicker, the dog receives a treat. The dog is able to receive instant feedback that whatever behavior was just performed was met by a positive response from its owner. Over time, the dog begins to associate the sound of the clicker with receiving a treat for a certain behavior, such as sitting, lying down, or rolling over. Eventually, the dog learns the correct behaviors in order to hear the clicker and receive the reward.
Does Clicker Training Work?
Clicker training is an efficient way to train your dog, as it is science-based and backed by a multitude of research. Many studies have proven that animals are able to learn by association, and the method can be traced back to Pavlov’s Theory of Classical Conditioning, in which he showed that dogs would associate the sound of a bell with food if it was rung before each meal. Gradually, the dogs would begin to anticipate food by salivating just from hearing the sound of a bell, even if there was no food present. Clicker training is based on the same theory that dogs will begin to associate the sound of the clicker with some sort of reward, and eventually, the sound of the clicker will prompt the dogs to show the correct behavior without treats being present.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
Before you begin training your dog with the clicker, you must first condition the dog to associate the clicker with a reward. This can easily be done by clicking the clicker at random times and rewarding the dog with a treat immediately after. Carry some treats around in your pocket, and click the clicker in various places and situations, such as in public, at home, while sitting, while standing, in the car, etc., so the dog realizes the clicker can be used anywhere and at any time. Your dog will learn that every time he hears the clicker, he will immediately be rewarded.
Once your dog understands the meaning of the clicker, you can begin training him or her using the clicker method. Start by choosing the task or trick you want your dog to learn. It’s best, to begin with, something simple the dog already does naturally, for example, sitting. Each time your dog sits, say the word “sit,” click the clicker and give a treat. Repeat every time you catch your dog sitting. Soon, the dog will be prompted to sit when you give the command “sit.” Practice giving the command, and each time your dog obeys, immediately click the clicker and follow with a treat. Repeat this process for all commands you’d like your dog to learn.
Tips for Clicker Training Your Dog
- If you click the clicker, you must give your dog a treat. Consistency is key here; even if you accidentally click the clicker, it’s better to go ahead and give your dog a treat, or the dog may get the impression that clicks don’t always mean rewards.
- Keep treats hidden as much as possible, such as in a bag or in your pocket. If you hold treats in your hand before you click the clicker, the dog will learn he only has to behave if you’re holding a treat. By hiding treats, your dog will learn there is a potential to earn treats at any time, so he should always obey and show good behavior, not just when the owner is holding a treat.
- Don’t use your clicker to get your dog’s attention, as this will confuse the dog and interfere with the dog’s understanding of the clicker.
Clicker training is a positive type of training that is very effective. Although it can be time-consuming, it is worth it once your dog is able to obey and follow commands. With a little patience and these tips, you’ll have your dog trained using a clicker in no time.
Can I Use Clicker Training to Train My ESA?
The short answer is yes! Since clicker training is so successful, it is a great option if you’re trying to train a dog to be an ESA. If you’re training your own ESA, you can teach them to do specific tasks to suit your needs. For instance, if you suffer from debilitating PTSD, you can train your dog using the clicker method to recognize the warning signs of a panic or anxiety attack. Others may train their ESA to perform certain tasks to help them through their daily routine, such as how to turn on the lights. Most commonly, though, ESAs are trained to go get help if their person is in the middle of an episode or seizure that requires help from fellow humans. Some ESAs can even fetch you a bottle of water from the fridge!
If you would like to teach them very specific tasks, it is recommended that you act out the scenario many times a day to get your dog used to it. That way, if/when it actually happens, they will know exactly what to do.
When it comes to training an ESA, you can teach them in any way that will help with your specific and unique needs. By training them yourself, it will also further their connection and relationship with you as their master. If you suffer from a debilitating mental or physical ailment that will not allow you to use clicker training to train your ESA yourself, though, there are many programs across the world that will aid in training your dog; some may require you to be a part of the process in a dog training class, while others will train your dog for you completely. These types of training services or classes can range anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars, but it may be worth if it for you to require the extra help, or you just don’t feel comfortable training your dog completely by yourself without the help of an expert.
Should I Declare My Trained Dog an ESA?
Do you rely on your animal to help you through the day? Whether your disability is mental or physical, if the answer is yes, you may be eligible for an emotional support animal. By registering your dog as an ESA, you ensure both you and your dog are legally protected. The proper documentation means that you can bring your dog nearly everywhere with you, such as live in a new rental that would otherwise prohibit animals on the property, to countless shops, or while traveling by bus or plane. Without registering your dog, you could be denied services and miss out on the following legal benefits:
Fair Housing Act: Are you planning to register your ESA to move into a new living space? Great! We want you to be aware of the Fair Housing Act. Under this act, landlords are required to permit the resident to keep any animal that provides a benefit to persons with disabilities, including emotional and psychological, even if they otherwise restrict animals on the premises. Your task is to only register your ESA and procure a letter confirming its role in your treatment from a licensed medical professional. At, U.S. Service Animal and Support Animal Registry, we are here to help you with every step of the process.
Air Carrier Access Act: This act prohibits carriers from practicing discrimination in public air travel, whether domestic or international, as it pertains to persons with physical or mental impairments.
American Disabilities Act: The ADA requires entities that providing public goods or services to provide “reasonable accommodations” to persons with disabilities in order to satisfy the provider’s regulations, procedures, rules, and policies. The American Disabilities Act extends from government agencies to private enterprise and non-profit organizations.
Your Privacy: We care about your privacy and want to help you protect it. No person or business is allowed to invade your privacy by asking about your disability or requiring medical documentation, a special identification card, training documentation (in the case of a service dog, for instance), or a demonstration of your ESA’s service to you (i.e., perform a task). You should never be required to disclose any details about your disability. While boarding a flight or applying for housing, however, the proprietors and agents will have access to the basic information provided on your emotional service animal’s ID card and in your letter from a licensed medical practitioner.
Disruptive Presence: While you have the right to live and travel with your emotional support animal if your ESA escapes your control to the extent of disrupting others, proprietors or their staff members can request your animal be removed from the premises. Therefore, all service animals must be either harnessed, leashed, tethered, or confined to a carrying container while in public places, unless such containment interferes with the animal’s task or role as it pertains to the disabled person, including the emotionally and psychologically disabled.
Where Do I Register My Dog as an ESA?
If you’re interested in utilizing a trained dog as an ESA but haven’t declared your precious pooch an emotional support animal yet, you may be wondering where to turn to begin the process. With so many scams on the internet and so many options, too, it can be difficult to pick the right registry to register you and your ESA with.
That’s where the U.S. Service Animal and Support Animal Registry comes in. We have been helping set up disabled persons with the proper documentation, equipment, accessories, signed letters of proof from a medical professional (if needed), knowledge of their rights as an ESA owner, and even legal help from a list of fantastic professionals for years.
Still on the fence on whether you want to choose us? Check out this list of benefits we offer:
- You will receive both a card and certificate to protect your rights as an ESA owner in nearly any scenario. The certificate acts as an official document that confirms your animal is registered as an ESA in our database and contains all the necessary information, such as the date of issuance and the animal’s name.
- You and your animal will be included in the largest online database of U.S. service animals.
- We supply numerous resources to help you secure a support animal; this includes a variety of things, such as a licensed medical professional, should you need an official letter for a landlord or airport.
- You can get $60 off your consultation with any medical professional in our network when you seek out an official letter for your housing or travel if you register your animal with us.
- Registering your animal allows you to also carry all the necessary equipment and accessories needed for your animal; this includes items such as a leash, collar, tag, vest, crate, and so on.
- We can help connect you to our on-staff attorneys who are there to protect your rights as an ESA owner.
- You gain access to our ESA kits and products.
Lastly, it’s always important to beware of scams! Just like any other industry or company, there are imposters lurking around every corner. Therefore, if you have any questions about anyone acting or pretending to conduct business on behalf of U.S. Service Animals, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help, as we’re here to protect, help, and support both you and your ESA. You can trust us to put what’s best for you and your ESA first, allowing you to enjoy life with your ESA – not stress about it!