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The first step in clicker training is conditioning the clicker. You can think of this as being like charging the clicker up so that it has meaning to the dog. You only need to do this once, when you first start clicker training a dog, but if you have more than one dog you need to go through the process for each dog.

Line up 20 treats on the counter in your kitchen (a frank cut into small pieces should work.) Click and immediately give the dog a treat. Repeat this - click, treat, click, treat, click, treat - until you've used up 10 of your treats. Remember to click first and then treat - the order is extremely important.

Now click once, but don't give the treat immediately. What does your dog do?

In all probability, he pricks up his ears, looks at you and says: "where's my treat, then?"

Congratulations! You have just conditioned the clicker as a conditioned stimulus. To strengthen the association between the click and the treat, carry on clicking and treating until you've used up all the treats.

If you used a ballpoint pen rather than a clicker, remember to repeat this process with your clicker when you do eventually get one.