Welcome back to Trick Tuesday! Every Tuesday, another trick tutorial.
This week, we are going to start the process of shaping by teaching our dogs how to get into a box. The traditional definition of “shaping” is asking our dogs to offer successive approximations on a skill or behaviour. Shaping is so much fun and can be used to teach limitless skills.
What we are doing is asking our dogs to offer or “shape” a behaviour. Essentially, we are teaching them to think and problem solve. To start shaping, you’ll need an easy behaviour, like getting into a large box. Initially, click any step, motion or even just slight attention towards the box. Then, wait for a little further commitment each time until you’ve reached your desired behaviour.
We’ll be using shaping to build many more behaviours in future Trick Tuesday videos! You won’t want to miss it.
Skill Level: Advanced
What you’ll need: Food, dog, conditioned reinforcer (clicker), box
Housetraining can be a daunting task if you don’t go about it right. With proper supervision and timely responses, any owner can have a fully housetrained puppy in no time.
1 – SUPERVISE – this really is the key. The most crucial step in the process. If you aren’t watching and the dog has an accident in the house, it’s a lost training opportunity. Don’t think that disciplining after the fact will help. It never will. It’s crucial that you actively supervise your puppy so that any accidents can be caught as they occur and proper feedback can be given. This may include a soft scold followed by bringing the puppy outside. No harsh corrections are needed or warranted. If you cannot supervise, use an appropriate crate.
2 – SCHEDULE – initially, this is very important. Learn about your puppy and their bathroom habits. Keeping a journal can be very helpful. Most puppies will need to pee after sleeping, eating and playing. Make sure you take them outside after these activities. Use your leash to direct them where you want them to eliminate and praise them when they go.
3 – FEEDBACK – be sure that you are able to praise your puppy when they go outside and scold them when they go inside. Any missed accidents are wasted opportunities and possible rehearsals of the wrong behaviour. This will work against you.
4 – RESPONSIBILITY – once your puppy understands that they should eliminate outside, it’s time to put the onus of responsibility on them to ask to go there. Decide how you’d like to have your dog notify you that they need to go out and set it up. For example, you may want your pup to come to you, sit and stare. When you need to take your puppy out, start with them at that door, ask them to sit and look at you and as their reward, open the door to allow them out. As the scenario progresses, move further from the door. Initially, just a step or two, then progress to another room. Ask the puppy to sit and look at you, when they do, reward them by moving to the door and allowing them out.
With some diligence and information, any puppy can be well housetrained in no time!