The 'Perils' of Clicker Training

01 Apr 2008Steve Schwarz

Nancy recounts her experience with Petey at the vet’s office.

Back when Petey was just a pup we started clicker training him. It was a great way to get him to offer different behaviors and be able to mark interesting behaviors without having to think of a verbal command right away. One of the first things he leaned was ‘paw’ which can best be described as a poker ‘hit me’ gesture.

Seeing as how he seemed determined to hang onto his puppy teeth to the point we were going to have to rename him ‘Jaws’ I scheduled an appointment with our wonderful veterinary dentist. At the vet’s, upon seeing that Petey was understandably somewhat wary of him, the doctor suggested letting the pup explore the room to get comfortable. While Petey nosed around, the doctor sat on the exam table and described the various options available.

In the middle of our engrossing retained deciduous tooth discussion, the table suddenly lurched into motion. Startled, I peered underneath and spotted Petey grinning happily while giving the table lift pedal his paw. ‘Hey! Cut that out!’ I yelped (for probably the 50th time that day) and called him out from under the table. The table ground to a halt as Petey emerged long enough to look at us both, wag his tail and dart back under for an encore performance of his new ‘paw’ trick.

The wonderful thing about this vet is his unflappable calm. Rising into the air, he looked me gravely in the eye and said, ‘Yes, that is one dog that definitely needs a job.’

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