Ever feel like you need a 3rd hand to train your dog?

You need one hand to hold the clicker, one hand to hold the treats, and one hand to hold the target/leash/dumbbell/etc. Impossible!

Wait! It may not be as impossible as you think! You can hold the clicker and treats in the same hand and train more efficiently and effectively. It just takes practice!

I find it easiest to deliver the treats with my clicker hand when using an i-Click, because the shape of that clicker fits my hand best, and the button projects out making it easy to click with very little pressure.

That makes it easier to hold the reservoir of treats in my palm, and then use my pinkie finger as a valve to control the dispensing of treats.

Here’s a quick tutorial video showing this technique and a possible modification that accomplishes the same goal.

What is this kind of treat delivery useful for? Any behavior where you need a free hand, but also a high rate of reinforcement. I most often use this strategy when working with a target or other prop in my other hand, but it’s also useful for behaviors where I need to touch or handle the dog. It’s a lot easier to work through such behaviors when that hand is empty.

One quick tip: Practice just the food delivery so both you and your dog get used to it before trying to use this strategy to teach a new behavior.

This video shows that technique in action. I start by practicing just the reinforcement strategy by itself to make sure we are in sync, and then start incorporating our “agenda” behavior for that session, a chin rest.