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Showing posts from July, 2010

Training "Play Dead" Behavior

Some people might think training a dog to "play dead" is just a cute trick. Dog owners, on the other hand, could look at it as a great behavior to teach in order to help relax a dog. Besides, when it comes time to add a verbal cue to a behavior, you can name it anything you want – regardless of whether everyone else thinks it's just "playing dead"!

Speaking of adding cues, it's important not to begin throwing either verbal or signaled cues around too early when teaching a behavior. Remember, dogs aren't people. They don't understand language; that being said, they CAN learn what movements and words mean when taught properly to cue behaviors.

Here's my first session with Zada working on getting her to lie flat – relaxed – on her side. I'm not so much shaping this behavior as I am capturing it. She was already consistently offering it in her repertoire of offered behaviors so I merely waited to capture it. (If I were truly shaping, I'd hav…

101 Things To Do With a Box

Did you know dogs can learn to be creative?

My German shepherd, Zada, is very obedient and disciplined but she seemed almost robotic...she was happy and healthy but always seemed to be waiting for me to tell her what to do. I learned a good way to stimulate her mentally and get her creative juices flowing was to play a game called "101 Things To Do With a Box."

Purpose of 101 Things To Do With a Box Game
What's the point of this game, and what does it actually DO for a dog? Well, the object is to get the dog thinking and offering behaviors. Even if your dog already offers behavior, this is a great way to make any dog think "outside the box," so to speak.

Starting The Game
To start, place a box in a relatively low-stimuli environment (inside works best). If your dog isn't used to the positive reinforcement method of clicker training, you'll need to prime the clicker first. Once the dog knows that click = treat (i.e., the click denotes the desired behavior …

Shaping Behavior: Teaching Tricks

Whether for new tricks or "normal" obedience cues, shaping is a great way to teach a dog a new behavior. This method seems to 'stick' with the dog much more quickly and for a longer duration than either luring or – something I don't recommend – making the dog perform the behavior.

If you've never tried this training method, it might take a while for both you and the dog to get the hang of it. But the rewards are worth the patience!

How Do I Start Shaping My Dog's Behavior?
First and foremost, your dog must understand clicker training. If he doesn't, you'll first need to charge the clicker before you begin.

You can free shape anything; you need to have in mind what you want before you begin so you can remain consistent with your rewards. Simple obedience staples – sit, down, stand, etc. – are fairly simple, since these are behaviors a dog performs every day. Often when teaching these behaviors with free shaping, it's more a matter of capturing t…