Getting Desired Dog Behaviors to Happen
How do you achieve those desired dog behaviors that you would love your pup to have? These are the 4 techniques to help show your dog which behaviors you want:
“Capturing” and “shaping” are my favorite ways to get desired behaviors, because they require the most thought from the dog. I’ve noticed that people tend to be dependent upon lures, so I caution you to use them sparingly, and when using modeling, never put pressure on your dog’s back, neck or spine or do anything that may cause physical harm to your dog.
Did you see your dog perform a behavior you would like to have repeated? Click it! A “behavior” can be anything your dog does… sitting, lying DOWN, approaching you, sneezing, spinning, play bowing, touching an object or even delivering the ball. If you merely observe your dog, you have the opportunity to click or praise hundreds of desired behaviors every day!
Did you see something that looks like something you want? Did the dog take a “step in the right direction”? Start there, build on that! Know what your end result will look like, but don’t worry about getting there. What small part can the dog do now that gets you started in that direction? That is where you start, and only practice that until the dog is proficient, at which point, you set a slightly higher criteria, which means enduring another pause while the dog is frustrated, but will eventually offer something more to you.
Using a toy or food treat to guide the dog into the physical position you want. When using the luring technique, it is easy to fall into the pattern of doing the work for the dog. If you cannot get the behavior from capturing or shaping and want to lure it, get rid of the lure as quickly as possible, usually after the 2nd or 3rd try. You want the dog offering the behavior to you. You may have to endure a long pause while the dog thinks things through, and you may need to lure it once again, but keep your lures to a minimum.
Modeling is the act of physically placing the dog’s body into the position you want. You are doing all the work here, the dog is doing nothing. But always be gentle when handling your dog. Touch sometimes turns the dog’s brain off, so this is a less favorable way to get what you want. After all, if someone touches your bottom, does it make you think, “Hey, I should SIT” ???
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.