Trainer's Corner: Improve Your Skills as a Dog Trainer...
101 Things to Do With a Box
A great way to get good at training dogs is to train your dog a
lot. The more different things you teach your dog to do the better able
you will be move ahead when you come to point in your training where you
need to move forward but seem to be stuck. The following exercise will
help you become better at shaping behavior, which is one of the most
important skills of a good dog trainer. This exercise has been promoted on
web sites and in clicker training books for a long time: here is my version
of 101 Things to Do With A Box.
Take an empty box and put it in the middle of the floor. Arm
yourself with your dog's breakfast or dinner and sit in a comfortable
chair. The purpose of the exercise is to click and treat your dog for
interacting with the box. He might start off by sniffing it, looking at it,
walking towards it and end up putting one or both feet inside, sitting in
it or pushing it across the room with his nose. The result will depend
upon what you choose to click and treat.
You can start off with a clear goal in mind or just experiment. If
you choose a clear goal you will be working on learning how to shape a
behavior without a lure or a prompt and get your dog to your goal with only
the clicker as information. If you choose to just experiement you will be
working on teaching your dog to offer all different kinds of behavior to
make the click happen.
I like to play this game every once in a while when I feel like my
dogs need a boost of the brain cells because we haven't trained in a while
or because I can't think of anything I want to work on at that moment. It
is an excellent exercise for both new and experienced trainers because it
teaches the trainer how to improve their timing and shape behavior. If you
feel rusty because you haven't worked your dog in a while or want to become
better at shaping behavior, this exercise will help give you the skills you
need to improve your training techniques and make you a better dog trainer.
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