Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy, Safe, and Healthy New Year! Cuddle your furbabies close during these cold snowy (well, at least it’s cold and snowy here in Saskatchewan) days. For something to dispel the winter blahs, why not play a clicker game? Here’s a quick and easy one that most any dog (and hu-mom or dad) can enjoy.

101 Things to do with a Box

Place a box, or other object in the center of the room (a hat, tennis racket, junk mail, old purse, etc will all work). Find a comfy seat, where you have easy access to a container of treats (some dogs will happily work for kibble, some require a little higher a motivator). Hold onto your clicker, and watch your dog.

We begin this game with no expectations. We aren’t working towards a specific behavior, we’re just going to see what our dog offers us and go from there.

Click for any interactions with the box. Some dogs will dive right in, others may warm up to it a little slower. Here’s a list of examples of clickable behaviors:

looking at the box

walking towards the box

nosing the box

pawing the box

mouthing the box

rubbing against the box

pushing the box

tipping the box

walking around the box

jumping near the box

climbing on, in, or around the box

Any interactions at all should earn your dog a click and a treat.

You will notice that your dog has a tendency towards one specific type of interaction. Some are more likely to use their feet, others their mouths or noses, and others are more body focused. After you’ve been playing for a few minutes, decide to either end the session, or start building behaviors. If you do end the session, you can always come back later and start to build a more concrete behavior.

For a dog who used his paws, why not teach him to tip the box over? For a dog who used his nose, perhaps teaching him to push the box would be fun and useful. With a dog who has a penchant for chewing the box, teach him to grab and pull. There are lots of other cues you can teach using this game too. Cues like “target”, “in”, “over”, “around”, “on”. Have fun with it!

Just remember, wherever the box game leads you, take it slow, and don’t expect giant leaps in behavior. Think small baby steps. Click often. Keep your rate of reinforcement high.

And again…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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