I recently posted a video showing Teddy's progress on learning to run to his kennel on cue. Someone emailed me and asked me how I taught Teddy to go into the kennel. They were interested in the very beginnings of the behavior.
So I thought I'd show you just how you start teaching this behavior (or any behavior).
What you'll see on the video is called shaping. Basically, you mentally slice the behavior into lots of tiny pieces. If I want Teddy to go into the kennel, he'll first have to look at the kennel, then move toward the kennel, then place one foot in, two feet, three feet, and finally all four feet will be in the kennel.
Shaping lets you teach the dog each little tiny piece of the full behavior which makes the training process a whole lot easier (and faster).
The dog needs to know what specific behavior he should repeat. That's where the clicker comes in. The click tells the dog precisely what earned the click (and subsequent treat). Dogs aren't dumb – they'll do that same thing again in order to get the click and treat. The more they're doing the behavior, the more you're clicking and treating, and the more the dog does the behavior — the cycle begins!
You'll notice in the video I don't do a whole lot of talking or moving. I call shaping the "lazy trainer's dream," because the trainer only has to observe, click, and treat. That's it! In fact, the more you move and talk, the more distracted the dog will be (and the slower the learning).
Watch as Teddy figures out what I want him to do. I click him first for just looking at the crate. I ignore anything else he does (laying down, for instance). I let him figure out what to do, what pays. Also pay attention to his tail – see how happy he is? He really enjoys training and figuring out how to make me click.
This is the first in a series of videos on the basics of clicker training. We'll get into other aspects (cues, fluency, stimulus control, etc.) in future videos. If you don't know what these words mean, don't worry – you will after this series is over. And better yet, you'll be able to use it with your dog to create a beautifully behaved canine friend! [If the video below is cut off on the right side, double click the video and it will take you directly to YouTube where you can watch [and read] the whole video screen.]
Teddy is getting SO big! What a cutie. Good work boy:)
Thank you for a great video. I learned a missing piece from when I did this with Honey.
I noticed that you tossed the treat on the floor so Teddy had to go after it. That gave him an opportunity to go away from the crate so he could be rewarded for going back to it.
I was giving Honey the treat when she was in the crate so I had to coax her out. I have no idea why it never occurred to me to toss the treat–but I guess that’s why we need to keep learning.
It was also really helpful to see that little moment early on where Teddy sat and laid down because he had lost the connection (or never had it) with looking at the crate and being clicked. You could almost see the lightbulb go off when he decided to enter the crate for the first time.
Thank you, thank you!
I just did this with my new Grate Dane puppy today (who hasn’t been a fan of his kennel thus far) and it really worked! Not only is he going into his kennel when asked but he’s actually sleeping in it right now! No crying or barking! Thank you for sharing! only problem is, I’m not sure where to go from here. How do you phase out treats and get them to run to the kennel from across the house?