ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Training an Alternative Behavior:
Changing a Paw Whack to a Chin Rest

Carol Whitney wrote:

As you learn the rules of shaping behaviors; as your training skills improve, as you learn to teach a dog behaviors incompatible with the ones you don't want, so they do the ones you DO want instead; as you learn to shut your mouth and use the clicker; as you learn to invent at each moment the next training step, based on what the dog is doing right now -- you observe your dog so closely that you SEE the dog in a different way. NOW you are watching the dog's behaviors, and you're too busy clicking at the right time to make up stories about what the dog might be thinking.

****Well said****

I recently was reading some of the articles on the CS web page. Melissa wrote an article entitled "The Five Myths of Clicker Training." I believe it was there that I read something *very important*.... that we should determine *what we wan't the dog to DO* not what we want the dog to *stop* doing.

This is something I really wanted to think about.... Amber used to be very shy... now we have shaped her into a very pushy dog :-) This was somewhat deliberate on my part. I did not discourage *any* outgoing behavior. It was such a joy to see Amber act enthusiastically.....

Then we went through a phase where if Amber wanted to be petted, she would forcefully nudge us with her nose... repeatedly. If we did not pet her, she would really get pushy about it! Often times she was nosing in when we were petting Kodi! I decided that I did not like this behavior... it was *too* pushy, so I started to ignore her when she did that.... Instead, I would pet her when she stopped doing that.

I guess this was not clear enough for her... or she really wants/needs to *DO* something to get our attention... sitting patiently wasn't working consistently enough for her... so, she came up with another way. She now thinks the way to get attention (and boy does it work!) is to rake us with her front paw (nails arched).

OUCH! Out of reflex, I said "stop it!" and whapped her paw away from me. I am quite sure it did not physically hurt her... but it is much more of a harsh response than she is used to getting from me!

So, I was certainly thinking about what Melissa had said. I talked to my husband about it too.... I realized that I didn't respond to the nose nudging (P-) and so she came up with something else! Punish one behavior? Expect another to surface! So, what did I want????

Kodi gave me my answer last night.... He came up to me, I was sitting on the floor, and he gave me his first ever clicker trained behavior: He layed down beside me and gently placed his chin on my lap! Awwwww!!!! I *can not* resist that one. It always brings a smile, brings me joy, and causes me to pet him ;-) It's perfect.

When Amber came up to me and started to rake me with her paw, I gently took her paw and placed it on the floor (yes, modeling). She was laying down... she could easily rake me again... so I placed my hand over her front paws *gently* restraining them. Then with my other hand, I did a patting/sliding motion on my leg. She placed her chin on my leg!!!!! That got me to scritch her behind both ears... and that's really all she wanted!

A moment later she started to put her paw on my leg, I just said "un-uh" gently and repeated the lure for her to rest her chin on my leg. She did! She is one smart puppy :-) And soon, within minutes, she was putting her head down in my lap on her own! She just didn't know what to do...

I could have easily looked at her as being a "brat"... as trying to "bother" me... instead, I think she was just a dog who wanted some attention and was doing what she could think of to get my attention. So there I was, one dog on each side of me... each resting their heads in my lap... petting their wonderful soft fur... crocheting? Was I working on something???? Who cares???? Gotta love 'em!

Debbie Otero, Kodi and Amber

copyright 1999 Debbie Otero


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