TIP #1: THE 3 WAYS TO TEACH, PT. 2
To teach your dog to do something specific on cue, you get your dog to do that particular behavior, then reward it. The tricky part is getting your dog to do the behavior. There are 3 ways to do this:
Shaping means rewarding approximations of a behavior, and then building on that until you get the behavior you want. It is like learning to dance. You don’t start by dancing the Viennese Waltz; first, you learn the basic steps, then you practice correct body position, and so on.
Shaping is the dog-training equivalent of this training method. Say you want to teach your dog the down cue. First you would reward the dog when his head goes down toward the ground. Next, for bending one front elbow. Then for bending both front elbows. Finally, you would reward a full down.
TIP #2: TO TUG OR NOT TO TUG, PT. 2
Tug, or any vigorous activity for that matter, played without rules or functioning human brain cells is potentially dangerous. But the baby has been thrown out with the bath water in this case: why deprive dogs and owners of one of the best energy burners and outlets there is? It's good because it is intense, increases dog focus and confidence, and plugs into something very deep inside dogs. The owner becomes the source of a potent reinforcing activity, and there is a payoff in terms of lowered incidence of behavior problems due to understimulation. It's also extremely efficient for the owner in terms of space and time requirements, and it can be used as a convenient reinforcement option in obedience.
- excerpted from The Culture Clash
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI