Perhaps you’ve heard of the fun clicker training game, 101 Things To Do With a Box. If time permits, and I think I can do it quickly, I demonstrate to clients the speed with which something very foreign and odd can be taught to a dog simply by understanding timing and feedback.
Toby was a dog I had a chance to meet and then see again 4 days later (I also worked with his “sister”, a yellow lab named Daisy who, if you watch carefully, can be seen in the above video bored in the background with such shenanigans).
When I first met him he was an anxious, skittish, non compliant adolescent with a lot of angst. By the end of the first session he was definitely calmer, learned a number of new behaviors, and his owner, Katie, was given a lot of very clear cut workable protocols to start ameliorating alot of his anxiety based reactivity.
I returned to see Toby 4 days later for a follow up, which is unusual for me. I was asked to return because Katie’s husband had returned from the navy and they were due to drive west and relocate to Seattle for a new navy post. The change in Toby was so dramatic. Where at my first meeting he was reactive, barky, suspicious, guarded, skittish. At my second visit,after I walked into the house, he just stared at me with such depth of gratitude it almost made me cry. It was as if his eyes were saying “thank you for helping us all bring me to a sane place, I feel so much better.”
Toby’s trust in me was so complete that he not only learned to go in the laundry basket quite quickly (when it was first brought in he was very guarded about its presence) but he let me videotape him as he went in for what was the third time in his life. Toby didn’t really like having his picture taken either, but he was a trooper.
Clicker training, done correctly, with lots of immediate feedback, is absolutely the coolest way to help teach a dog to do tasks that are complex and foreign as well as to “fix” those things a dog finds less than swell!
Thank you Toby, for being such a good sport!