Friday, April 18, 2008


When Savage was younger I bought him the Dog Training Kit from because I had heard so many good things about this method. Initially it worked well for us, but somewhere along the way we stopped practicing with the clicker. The other day I decided it was time for some training, refreshers for the basics: sit, stay, etc., and decided to use the old clicker. Well, this time around Savvy was so scared of the clicking sound that he refused to even come near me, even when I was offering him treats. Obviously I was perplexed and frustrated, and with the dog becoming increasingly nervous and confused, I ended the failed "training session", and put the clicker away.
I intended to give the clicker kit to a friend and her dachshund, but shortly after that I began pondering another use for it. You may recall our first exhausting experiences with "The Evil Bicycle" from October '06, wherein Savvy kept barking, circling, and biting at the bike and generally wearing himself out. This kept happening every time we biked, and eventually got so out of control that I planned on not even using the bicycle for exercise this summer. (You can probably figure out where this story is going.) Yesterday I got the bike out of the garage and took it and Savvy out to test my new theory. As soon as I started pedalling my puppy started barking and biting the front tire. But when I clicked the clicker he backed off and moved away, allowing me to pedal without fear of him knocking me down or me running into him. We spent about 15 minutes biking in this way, and he each time he got in front of the bike or started whining, I clicked. Success!
Of course, with Savage I never know if this is just a one-time thing or if he truly "gets it", but I'm pretty confident that this method will help us both enjoy biking more this summer, without all the barking and anxiety. Ironically, how I'm using the clicker is the opposite of the way it's supposed to be used, that is to say: positive reinforcement. But this is the "training" that worked for us the other day, and really the only thing I've found that has stopped him from freaking out about the bike. Now I'm looking forward to biking with him, instead of dreading it.


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