Shaker Cans, hand claps, and other interruptive behavior

The noise of a shaking can startles the puppy, interrupting what the puppy is focused on.  Now there is the teachable moment.

The shaker can teaches nothing by itself. In fact, if you throw a shaker can at some puppies, they pick it up and run off with it, shaking as hard as they can.

You’ve now made a void that needs to be filled: the puppy is no longer doing the thing you didn’t want him to do.  You now need to fill that void, or the puppy will!

If you think along those lines when training, how much more effectively could you use the training time.

I can only speak for myself, but I learned a long, long time ago in the context of training dogs the importance of interrupting a behavior to re-direct. I think Scott Mueller wrote about using the No delivered in a normal tone of voice rather than being bellowed across the training room. No means, “Stop what you are doing.”  For example, I may interrupt a dog doing scent articles and is sniffing the floor instead of working for the pile — NO and when she looks up at me like ‘what, then?’ re-directing with a ‘find it’ and the dog goes back to work.

Think of a mother who is raising children.  She will repetitively interrupt the child who is reaching for the pretty glass figurine on the department store shelf with a verbal no. When that child looks toward Mom, she is re-directed (usually with a ‘come over here and stand/sit by me’).

No is generally sufficient to interrupt the bad or dangerous behavior because the mother always re-directed and praised or encouraged the child for doing the right thing.  The same is true with dogs.

Interrupting a behavior to redirect is a critical element of good training. Learning to get the timing right and knowing in advance what you want the dog to do instead of what you just interrupted is crucial.

Let’s talk dogs, or even better, let’s learn about dogs.  Set aside some time to receive Spike’s dog blogs by Acme Canine.
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