The video below is a great example of how a person can use clicker training and positive reinforcement training techniques to deal with annoying, dangerous, or otherwise unwanted behavior. In this case, the dog had a habit of jumping up into the owner’s face when she would bend over. The owner does a great job in the video explaining how she trained down as a default behavior, to eliminate the jumping up.
Watch on Youtube: Bending over as a cue for down
This video highlights several really useful training tips and principles:
1) Focus on the behavior you want the animal to do: Too often, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the behaviors we don’t want our animal to do. However, rather than thinking about how to eliminate a behavior, it’s often much easier to think about the problem in terms of an alternative, incompatible behavior that you can teach the animal to do instead.
This shift in thinking will also influence your training strategies. When trainers think of “getting rid” of behavior, they often turn to punishment. However, thinking up and training alternative behaviors helps trainer think of creative, positive solutions.
2) Teach a new cue using “New Cue, then Old Cue:” This video is also a nice example of how to add a second, new cue to a previously learned behavior. Trainers often do this using the new cue-old cue procedure. The trainer gives the new cue, waits a second, then gives the old cue.
After some repetition, the trainer can begin lengthening the time gap between the new cue and the old cue. Animals start anticipating and offering the behavior when the new cue is given, before the old cue has to be given.
3) Retrain when conditions change: When the environment changes, trainers often have to go back and do a bit of retraining. In this video, when the trainer tried to ask for the behavior near the crate, the dog “forgot” her training.
When an animal doesn’t perform a previously trained behavior, some trainers are quick to blame the animal. However, just because an animal can do a behavior in one situation, does not mean the animal will readily be able or willing to do it in a different situation. With just a bit of retraining, the dog quickly learns how to lie down near the crate.
The trainer, Eileen, is following Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels program, which is a very nicely designed step-by-step dog training curriculum. If you are not familiar with it, I encourage you to check it out. You can read more about Eileen and how she trained this behavior on in this post on her blog.