TIP #1: SHAPE. RATTLE & ROLL
A fun and effective way to teach your dog new skills using a process called "shaping". Shaping involves slicing the behavior you want your dog to do into tiny pieces (approximations), successively clicking and treating each "slice," until you have built up the finished behavior you want to train. Here is an example of how shaping works. Imagine you are looking at a frame-by-frame motion picture of your dog picking up a tennis ball.
1. The first step is the dog turning his eyes towards the ball. After you have clicked and treated that glance toward the ball couple of times, your dog will start offering it. By "offering it", I mean he will deliberately glance towards the ball in an attempt to make the clicker go off.
2. Once your dog is firmly and deliberately offering the glance towards the ball, you can hold out and not click it. Your dog will keep trying the glance, and then, when he sees that it is not paying off, he will offer "improvements" on that behavior, like a bit of a head turn in that direction. Voila! You have frame number two, the head turn, which you can start click and treating.
3. Again, once your dog is firmly and deliberately offering the head turn, hold out for any tiny lowering of his head. Click and treat that a few times, and then, when you are sure he is offering a bit of a head bob, hold out for a bigger head bob. Again, when reinforcements are not forthcoming, your dog will offer different "improvements" on the head bob, which will eventually included lowering his head toward the ball more than he had before. You continue this way, reinforcing and then holding out for more through the rest of the "frames" of the "movie" of your dog picking up the ball.
- excerpted from When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs.
TIP #2: DON'T REINFORCE THE BEHAVIOR YOU DON'T WANT
There's a common misconception that dogs jump on people to establish dominance. Balderdash! Dogs jump on people because there's something about jumping that is reinforcing for the dog - usually the human attention that results from the jumping. If you want your dog to stop jumping on people, you have to be sure he doesn't get reinforced for it.
• Greet your dog before he jumps, perhaps even kneeling to greet a small dog.
• Turn and step away from your dog until he sits, or at least has four feet on the floor, then turn back to greet the dog.
• Ask your dog to sit and reinforce by petting him when he does.
• Back away from your dog (if you have your dog on leash) and wait for him to sit before greeting or petting him. If he jumps up while you are petting him, simply stop the petting and take a step backward. Resume petting only if he sits.
• Toss a toy conveniently provided by you to redirect the dog's behavior before the jump happens.
• Walk away from your dog through a gate or door and close it behind them to keep the dog on the other side.
- The Whole Dog Journal
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI