Some time ago I taught a friend of mine some of the basics of clicker training. Maria has two horses, both of which have been rescued. They are now full-time pets and there are no plans for either to be ridden in the foreseeable future, however Maria wants to ensure that they have the best possible care and that includes having their feet pared regularly. As with many rescue animals, this was a major issue and Maria wanted a kind way to work with her horses and build trust, hence the clicker training!
Maria was a great pupil and took to clicker training very well indeed! Some time later, I got a phone call. She has two dogs, also rescued,…. could she use clicker training with them too?…but, of course!
Charlie had come to Maria at approximately 10 years old – not exactly a pup. He had been abandoned and lived on his own for a year before he decided to move in with Maria one day. He also had a number of issues. Maria set out to do a bit of training with Charlie – clicker in hand and in spite of repeatedly being assured that old dogs don’t learn new tricks she taught him to sit and lie down. Charlie was also a worrier. He got anxious with certain sounds or actions and his reaction was to growl. He never followed up his threats with any action however.
Charlie’s worst fear was small children and Maria’s sister and family, including two small children, came to visit. Charlie growled, a lot, whenever the children were around so Maria got her clicker and some cheese. Waiting patiently for a hesitation in the growling, Maria clicked and a small child threw a treat to Charlie. This was repeated and within a short space of time Charlie began to look forward happily (and quietly) to his two small visitors!
Now that Charlie was a friendly dog, the children naturally wanted to rub his back and groom him – both of these were firmly on Charlies hated list and so out came the clicker again. Charlie now loves being groomed and petted. He groans with pleasure now when he is brushed which shows it is genuine enjoyment and not just tolerance.!
I was delighted to hear about Charlie. Firstly I love Maria’s clever use of the clicker to solve what was a reasonably big problem and secondly I was thrilled to see the transformation of Charlie from an animal locked into his own fear to a friendly happy dog!
She now also has eight equine feet that lift beautifully, at a mere suggestion, for handling and trimming!
The wonder of clicker training!!