SuzAnne Miller
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Can you train your pet to be creative?

Creativity might seem to us humans as something ingrained and maybe even inherent to our own species at the exclusion of others, but clicker trainers know it can be nourished and taught. How? It’s actually pretty simple. All you need is your clicker, a box or other objects, and some great treats.

Click and treat if your dog does anything with the box like: walk towards it, nose it, lick it, sniff it, etc.

Now wait and click and treat any other behavior they do. That’s it! Things can get pretty creative after a while though.

Canner’s favorite “box” is this tire.


Nose touch
Two feet on
One foot
Stand beside it!
Rest the head


But why train an animal to be more creative?

Well, for one thing it’s a load of fun. But you also get to nurture a relationship with them where they are exploring their own ideas. It can be a very powerful exercise into seeing just how much is going in their minds.

And if you have a reactive animal, an animal is often afraid of things, nurturing their creativity can do a lot to help. Creativity is opposite of fear. To be creative, you have to feel safe and reflective. An animal in fight or flight mode relies on instinctual drives. The run, the bite, they buck, they freeze. They display very limited behaviors but they often do them forcefully, explosively.

For Canner, that state of mind was a way of life. By encouraging creativity, I also opened up his world. He found more ways to play with the tire than he had before. In the past, tires were simply things to run away from and avoid. Now, he’s figuring out how to hug them.

To date, Canner has thought to do these things with the tire(all of his own accord): whack it with both front hooves, sniff it, bite it, lick it, rest his head on it, stand beside it, stand over it, lean on it, rest his hoof on it, rest his hoof on it while I clean his hoof, run both sides of his nose on it, huff on it, stick his head under it.

He’s not to 101, but he’s on his way!

Here’s some great tutorials on 101 things to do with a box!





SuzAnne Miller SuzAnne Miller is the owner of Dunrovin Ranch. A fourth-generation Montanan, SuzAnne grew  up roaming the mountains and fishing the streams of western Montana. Her love of nature,  animals, science, and education prompted her to create the world’s first cyber ranch where live  web cameras bring Dunrovin’s wildlife and ranch life to internet users across the globe. 

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