Clicking With Canines

Home | Welcome to Clicker Training | Articles from Karen Pryor Clicker Training | Bio | Training Philosophy, Methods, and Equipment | Research and Development Staff Profiles | Directions to the classroom | Training Tips | Shelter Page
Its Easy to Train a Dead Dog

The typical phone call from someone seeking help with their dog always starts out the same way:  "Hi, I need help with my dog!"  Ok, I respond, I'd be more than happy to help, what kind of help do you need?  Then I get this:  "How do I stop my dog from:  a) jumping on me or other people; b) barking at the doorbell/mailman/cat etc.; c) begging at the table; d) pulling on the leash; e) running away; f) chewing my stuff; g) digging in the yard; h) etc. etc. etc.  You name it and someone wants their dog to stop doing it!


My response is also usually the same:  "If what you are trying to teach your dog is something a DEAD DOG can do, then its NOT training and you don't need me.  I don't train dead dogs!"  There's usually SILENCE on the other end of the line while the caller mulls over this bit of seemingly nonsense.  What the heck am I saying?


Its simple.  Can you teach a DEAD dog not to jump on people?  Yes, of course its very, very easy.  Just tell the dead dog "Don't jump!"  You are done with training because DEAD dogs don't jump...heck, they don't move at all!  In fact DEAD dogs don't do much of anything...they are, well, DEAD!  They don't get in the trash, they don't run away, they don't bark at the doorbell, they don't beg at the table, and they don't chew things, dig in the yard or pee in the house. a dead dog IS easy!  In fact it appears they need no training at all!  True, but they are not much fun to be around either!


If you are calling me, my bet is that your dog is ALIVE!  Most of the time very much alive, if I were to guess, especially if you have a young adolescent or puppy.  So, how about thinking about what you would like your ALIVE dog to do instead of what NOT to do?  Now we are talking TRAINING!  I can help you train your ALIVE dog to do something, most anything in fact, if he's physically capable of doing it. 


For instance, how about training your dog to sit when greeting you or others INSTEAD of jumping up?  Or, how about going to its bed when the door bell rings or when you are enjoying your dinner.  Maybe you want your dog to walk with a loose leash instead of a tight one?  How about teaching your dog to chew its toys rather than your new shoes?  Maybe you'd like your dog to come to you when you call its name?  I'll even bet we could teach your ALIVE dog to dig in its own digging pit out back instead of in your nice green lawn out front!


Get the picture?  Ask yourself what you want your dog to do.  Then call me and ask how can we train'll really make my day!


I'm not a psychologist (and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night), but it sure seems that we humans default to thinking about the negative first.  Maybe I just get too many of these phone calls?  Thank God for our dogs though.  No matter how rough things get, they always greet us with the same: "forgetaboutit...let's go play fetch!"


Fetch!?!!?  Hey...that's something we can train!
Steve Benjamin, KPA CTP
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Karen Pryor Academy Faculty Member
P.O. Box 5715
Endicott, New York 13763