Relaxing one set of standards while building another set is an integral part of clicker training dogs. So you do not have to have the dog at the peak of his performance all of the time. Sometimes you ask for and get a great action e.g. ‘down’ for 5 minutes; another time you may only ask for ‘down’ for 1 minute. This does not mean the dog is going backwards with its training – it just means that you are relaxing your initial high standard.
One of the apparent differences between clicker training dogs and other methods of training is the way signals are attached to behaviours. In traditional forms of training, the command is usually repeated over and over again, during the learning process (sit, sit, sit.) before the behaviour is learned. In clicker training, the behaviour is shaped first and the command is added later and only once.
You need to teach the behaviour first, and then add the verbal command (Down/Sit/Stay). However, if you want to connect a signal to an action the signal comes before the verbal command. Remember, it is unnecessary to get the whole behaviour at one time. Be satisfied with steady, small steps of progress when clicker training dogs.
You know you have trained your dog well with the clicker and signals, when you can give two or three signals with no voice command and the dog will obey all of them. At first, when teaching a group of signals, use the clicker only after the group is successfully completed. Later, you will not have to use the clicker at all.