Killer Clowns In Peterborough - The Canine Solution

Discover the canine solution to your city's killer clown epidemic right here...

Those who know me well, will know that I do my best to avoid the news, where I can.

I mean, I try to stay abreast of all the fundamentals, in a roundabout way (I’m aware that there’s an evil billionaire currently running for US president, and that the BBC have robbed us of ever seeing Mel and Sue in the GBBO tent again) but I also try my hardest to avoid any prolonged exposure to the daily onslaught of misery that is global current affairs because, frankly, it’s depressing.

So, you can imagine my delight when my son arrives home from school declaring that killer clowns are on the loose – and ‘it’s true because they (you know, the infamous ‘they’) were all talking about it in the playground.’

‘Killer clowns?’


‘Clowns that kill people?’

‘Yes, it’s been on the news.  They have knives and they kill people.’

‘And they’re also clowns?

‘Killer clowns.’

‘Right…’ So whilst I mull over the best way to reassure a young child that he won’t be violently attacked by a deranged jester in the foreseeable future, I quickly run his seemingly nonsensical announcement through Google, hoping I can swiftly come up with the goods that his friends were actually talking about some new and ridiculous horror film, and not real life.  Siri's got my back, right?


Google very quickly throws at me pages of reports that clowns have been dragging people along streets, jumping out of bushes, and chasing children to school, all posted within the past 48 hours.  I pop my phone swiftly back into my pocket, casually lock the door with as much nonchalance as I can muster, and wonder how to make the world a cute and fluffy place again for my 6-year-old… quickly.

‘Aha. So, it would seem there’s a bit of a big practical joke going on at the moment. People are dressing up and trying to be scary because they think it’s funny.  We don’t think it’s funny, but they do. I don’t think they have PlayStations or anything, and they’re just bored.  Nothing to worry about.’

I see his eyes well up.

‘Also, coincidentally, I’ve actually trained the dog to guard against clowns.’


‘Yep.’      Nope.

‘What will she do?’

‘Oh she would absolutely attack them, and take them down in a safe and controlled way. And disarm them. And then alert the authorities.’  I look down at the world’s friendliest breed of dog who is currently licking jam off my younger son’s leg and passing wind, concurrently.  As soon as she catches my gaze she flops to the floor as goofily as she knows how, and initiates Puppy Dog Eyes, as she offers her underbelly up for a tummy-rub. ‘Well...  at the very least, she’d certainly sound the alarm.’  He seems somewhat satisfied, and heads upstairs to get changed.

Just in case you too happen to have found yourself suddenly (and in complete contradiction to all logic and reason) slap-bang in the middle of a killer clown epidemic - here’s a quick and easy way to teach your dog to speak on cue – or as we now lovingly refer to it in my household, ‘SHOUT AT THE CLOWN’:

Figure Out Your Lure…

With a lot of simple, one-step behaviours, the easiest way to teach a dog is to use the ‘lure and reward’ method.  So you lure the dog to perform a behaviour, he performs the behaviour you want, and you mark (with a clicker) and reward him.  Do this repeatedly, and within minutes he’ll likely understand what you want him to do.  Once he understands what’s being asked of him, you introduce a cue word along with your lure, then after a number of successes you lose the lure, and voila! Your dog is performing a new behaviour on cue.

For us, the lure to speak was a total no-brainer… the doorbell.  I already had the sound of our doorbell recorded on my phone from previous training exercises, so I simply utilised it to get the dog barking. The very second she spoke, I clicked and rewarded (which literally BLEW HER MIND, since every other experience she’d ever had with myself and the doorbell involved practising epic vocal self-restraint).  We repeated this for 3 or 4 repetitions, until I no longer needed the doorbell – Nova worked out that barking got her fed, so every time I reached for the treats, she barked.

Phase Out The Lure…

Obviously, having a dog that’s constantly barking isn’t ideal, so I began to introduce the cue word ‘Speak,’ and only rewarded Nova when she barked in response to the cue. Naturally this was only partially successful due to her epic over-enthusiasm for barking, and sudden realisation that all her Christmases had come at once.

Introduce Cues…

It was becoming a noisy affair, so for this particular command, I realised I also needed to introduce a cease-and-desist order, pretty sharpish.  So, whilst she was in full-on town-crier mode, I withheld her treats until she paused momentarily, then marked and rewarded the silence instead.  This took a few minutes (she really loves barking) for her to get her head around, but soon enough I was able to add the ‘Shush’ cue along with a hand signal for silence, which she very quickly got the hang of.

Now, with two functional cues, and two behaviours on tap, I was able to run through the exercise, asking in turn for noise, and silence, rewarding each correct response and ignoring each incorrect response, until she really got to grips with idea.

Remember, whenever you teach a new behaviour, you need to proof it thoroughly – check out my training article on The 3 Ds of Dog Training for step-by-step advice on how to bomb-proof your dog’s obedience!

And in the meantime… good luck getting Fido ready for Clown Patrol!


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