Training Your Dog on the Fly
Seize everyday opportunities to train your dog.
Gary Wilkes |
Posted: Mon Dec 30 00:00:00 PST 2002
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Developing a Pattern
Afterward you can expect Bently's interest in the toy to drop temporarily to zero. The presentation of the treat has interrupted his focus. That is perfectly normal. The secret is not to worry when your initial reinforcement stops the activity. Your immediate goal was to make the behavior special by attaching your "do that again" signal and offering a treat. If you succeeded, the behavior will be a little more likely to occur the next time Bently plays with a rope toy.
Later that day, you notice Bently has picked up the rope toy and is playing with it while looking at you, as if he is trying to get your attention. You notice more head swinging and tossing in this session. Now Bently actually shakes the toy, releases it and tries to catch it. Even if he misses, say "Good" and get your stashed treat. This second reinforcement will make an impression on him. It tells Bently the first treat was not a fluke. Now his accidental behavior is starting to become a pattern. You will see the behavior several times in the next few training sessions.
After four or five of them, a little light bulb pops on for the dog. The connection between the reinforcement and the behavior of "toss and catch" will become a firm association in its memory. Now Bently will start offering you the behavior whenever he has a chance to play with the rope toy. Gradually shift from food treats to verbal praise and affection to maintain the behavior.
Turning play behaviors into tricks can enhance your animal's personality and become a healthy addition to your relationship.
Learning to control behavior begins with watching your dog more closely. While the types of behaviors aren't usually earth-shaking in importance, they include a necessary ingredient to a happy life. They're fun!Page 1 | 2
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