Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds – maybe even thousands of rescue dogs with problems. I’ve found overwhelmingly that reward-based training or clicker training works the best for me given the job I’ve been asked to do helping these dogs.
Just such a dog, named Sandra Bullock, is a good example of clicker training and its positive affect.
She was recently rescued with a rope embedded in her neck, tied to a tree and left to die.
If you think about it, everything in Sandra’s life (for better or worse) had been taken away. She literally had no sense of self. Nothing in her new environment was familiar –
in sound or smell. Fortunately for her she went to a caring veterinarian that immediately began treating her wounds.
Other abused rescue dogs are less fortunate.
The clicker provided a simple, clear, consistent and non-emotional way to communicate with Sandra. For Sandra, who might have been overcome with fear, the clicker meant
the same thing every single time it was heard and that is, “Good dog, you did it!”
This kind of information, if presented in the correct way to any abused rescue dog, can be empowering to assist in shaping a positive attitude towards this new environment in
which it now lives.
Once a dog realizes, through repetitive clicker training, that it is in control of its environment and the consequences of its actions, it becomes much more confident. Once Sandra was successful in understanding what the clicker meant, she was on her way to success. Positive reinforcement training works. Sandra has learned to sit, down and go to her place. Each time she performed the command asked of her, I clicked and then treated her. The enormity of this lesson for Sandra as the light bulb came on in her head, was nothing short of amazing. She became empowered, confident and happy looking forward to each new day.
The clicker gives them a reliable way of communicating in a totally foreign environment – providing a small bit of security when there was none. Using clicker training with
abused rescue dogs allows them to develop a quiet confidence in the midst of uncertainty. This will begin to mend broken minds by keeping them focused on what they are doing
correctly. And most importantly, it helps to re-frame their thinking in new, positive ways about relationships with humans.
To see some videos of the beginning of Sandra’s training clickHERE
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. One of his clients says it best:
There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.