A Sad Day at All Dogs Are Smart, But One Up For Clicker Training

Four years ago there was a sad day in our little group. Our long time friend Cyndee, my aunt’s dog passed over the rainbow bridge. Cyndee was sick for a while, had stopped eating and wasn’t enjoying anything for several days, so my aunt made the decision in the morning to take her to the vet to stop her suffering.

Cyndee was found by a local group as a stray and my aunt took her in 14 years ago. She was a mixed breed, likely spaniel/border collie, and had the energy to go with it. Often, she had spats with my own dogs, and was reactive and aggressive to other dogs and to people. To say the least, she was and extremey difficult dog behaviourally. But my aunt loved her and they had many great adventures together.

Several years ago, when I was teaching outdoor group training classes, my aunt (and I) felt that she and Cyndee would benefit from some training because of her behaviour. We had to start working with Cyndee at the opposite end of the 2 acre property, her reactivity was that bad. I instructed my aunt on how to properly use the clicker and food rewards and she started with that. She carried food rewards around with her for months.

Just to make her behaviour more clear, Cyndee had been in a foster home when I was asked to take her to help the rescue out because she was jumping the fence and charging at people who walked by. She also would lunge at other dogs on leash regularly. Before we started working with her consistently, she was unmanageable and and extremely stressed out dog.

By the end of two classes sessions working with my aunt,  from about May- October, Cyndee was able, on leash, to be in the presence of other dogs in agility class. Not only that, her reactivity to humans diminished so much that she was able to get to know and like several people who lived nearby.

To top it all off, Cyndee and my aunt achieved their Novice Trick Dog Title (NTD), through “Do More With Your Dog”, together.

Why is this good on a sad day? Because all of this training with the clicker,  Cyndee was able to stay with my aunt and have an interesting and productive life, instead of being given back to resuce because of her behaviour.

Now, I’m not saying that ALL dogs can or will be helped to the extent that Cyndee was. Each dog and each PERSON is different.

But my point is to be made to those who say it can’t be done.

My aunt was 82 at the time. If SHE can train a dog to be manageable and functional with the clicker and food rewards, then I guess it can be done by SOMEONE.

Rest peacefully, Cyndee.


2 thoughts on “A Sad Day at All Dogs Are Smart, But One Up For Clicker Training

  1. Cydee was indeed a fine example of what a difference clicker training (positive reinforcement) can do. But there’s also that “unknown” element of how Stella’s deep and abiding love for Cyndee helped in the turn-around. Big hug coming your way Stella; I lost my “other half” in January so I know how difficult things are for you. The nicest thing someone said to me when my pony died last summer applies here: “May she (Cyndee) walk in peace and in the warmth of the sun”.

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