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Clicker training, from the home to the shelter

Filed in - Training - Dogs

A reader sent us this wonderful story by email:
Hi Karen,
We had heard about clicker training several years ago, but quickly dismissed it as our 11 year old dog is terrified of any electronic clicking sound-so much so that he once destroyed 2 interior door handles, scratched the doors and attempted to dig through an exterior door and wall in his effort to escape when the electronic air filter started clicking one day we weren't home.
We decided to try it this time as it would be a great tool to use with our new dog and tried it with him. He was happily responding to the clicker in less than 2 sessions of 25 click and treat. Now he sits in line, eagerly waiting for his earned treat like every one else. We wish we would have started using it several years ago.
Five months ago when we adopted Lady, a 3 year old pointerX, she was terrified of being stuck in a crate and refused to go in. We gave her time to trust us and were re-introduced to clicker training in the meantime. In one week, for our first clicker project, she trained herself to happily go in the crate and lay with her head down and then let us close the door! After slowly lengthening the time in the crate, we can begin to take her to Rally-O and agility trails.
The clicker is such a great tool that allows us to mark the precise moment the dogs are "doing right". They work more willingly and much more happily than with voice alone. It has captured their attention and ours. Both of us have our clicker on our keychains!
I volunteer at the local SPCA and will be providing a demonstration for them to consider using this as a simple training device for volunteers and staff alike. We have recently ordered "Click to Calm" and are really looking forward to reading and applying the ideas as well! Will keep you posted on our progress.
Donna, Bruce, Ollie, Cedar & Lady
Nanaimo, BC
Thanks all! We love to hear about dogs who have been given a new lease on life through the use of the clicker, especially with folks working in shelters. Clickers are inexpensive, which is important to all shelters, and the basic skills needed to make shelters better for the dogs and people are easily taught. And when you see it work, well, you know what a difference it can make!

Just so you know, there are some free handouts for shelters available here at our Shelter Resource Center that teach the basic of clicker training and how to make your shelter a no-bark zone. We also publish a book for shelters called Click for Life that's now available for download for $12.95 at ClickFlicks, and we also sell a deeply discounted Shelter Orientation Pack that includes everything you need to convert a shelter to clicker.