Imagine a photographer with a camera focused on a bird’s nest – just waiting for the baby birds to pop their heads up. The instant the birds show their heads, the photographer captures the image by releasing the shutter.
Imagine a dog owner (me) walking his turbo Australian terrier (Bentley).
Imagine Bentley scratching the ground with his feet (like a bull), immediately after he urinates.
Imagine me marking that behavior and then giving Bentley some version of F.A.T. (Marking is when you click a clicker, say a crisp X, or use whatever signal you use as a marker. F.A.T. is a reward system, consisting of food, attention, and touch.)
I thought Bentley’s natural behavior of “scratching out” was cute, so I decided to teach him to do it on command. All I did was mark the instant he did it and then give him a reward. At this point I am not saying anything to Bentley. I am patiently waiting, then marking.
I am like the photographer in that I patiently wait for something in particular to occur, then I act.
During one walk with 3 or 4 instances of Bentley scratching out and me marking the behavior, Bentley caught on. To test his understanding, I waited for him to scratch out, and I did NOT mark the behavior. He looked up at me as if to say, “hey stoooopid, I scratched out – where’s the mark?” Now I was ready to add the command or cue. On our next pee stop I slipped the words. “Tough boy” immediately before he scratched out. I marked the behavior and a new trick was born.
Now I can ask Bentley, Are you a tough boy?” and he will scratch out like a bull!
Alan J Turner – Canine Relationship Solutions – Memphis – Collierville – Germantown – Dog Training – Cat Training – Bird Training – Horse Training