The Dentist is Coming!

Dentist !I like to think I’m proactive in my training and get plenty training in for life’s events, but I’m no different to everyone else and often life just gets in the way and before I know it I am running out of time.  With the annual dental visit needed for Brody coming up soon I’m WAY behind with my dental gag training.

Each day I have been trying to get a little bit of gag training done with Brody, and each day I planned to video each session to show progress.  And each day when I arrive at the barn I realise I have left the video camera at home.  But we have managed to get a few sessions in and even manged to get video of them.

When Brody was a baby I was very diligent with his gag training and each time the dentist was visiting a horse on the yard I asked her to do some gag training with Brody.  He was very quickly a champion at getting the gag on and having ‘mock’ work done on his teeth.  Then the dreaded happened and he got a huge fright when he was about 3 years old.  He had 2 baby caps stuck and they had to come off.  It took seconds to remove them (they were hanging on my a thread of skin) but that was just plenty to do a huge amount of emotional damage.  All that time I had taken to make sure he was rock solid for the dentist gone in seconds.

Not only did that mean we needed to start the training again, but it also meant we were starting with a fear reaction instead of the neutral place we had started at when he was just a yearling.

With each session we have managed to fit in he is making great progress and I am delighted.  Here is a quick synopsis of his first training session (video to follow)….

Session 1 started with Brody snorting when he realised I had a gag in my hands.  So I waited until he could just glance at the gag, click.  Quickly he realised I wasn’t going to be bringing the gag to him and he started to relax.  As he relaxed he was able to look at the gag with curiosity rather than fear, and quickly he was able to target the gag.  That was all I asked of him in that session and we called it a day.  As an additional reinforcer for a job well done I got his hula hoop and his mat out to play with…2 of his favourite training tools.

Amanda Martin
The Click That Teaches – Approved Coach


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