Whether you’re trying to build a new behaviour or stop an old one, timing is key!
When we use a clicker to mark a behaviour – like a shutter of a camera capturing a moment – we must take care as the dog is watching our every move.
It’s critical that we firstly mark the behaviour we want as it happens (click!) and THEN move to reach for the reward.
The same applies when marking unwanted behaviour. The mark (“No!”) must come before the consequence you are trying to pair it with.
If your timing is off, or you don’t reward or apply consequences CONSISTENTLY (and we’ve covered consistency recently!) then your dog will lose faith that the click/marker will yield the expected result.
This will cause your dog to be confused and will slow your training down.
It’s worth spending a little bit of time practicing your marker timing skills without the dog. Take your clicker to a busy street and try to click every car as it passes the nearest lamppost to you. Happy clicking!