Picture the scene. You’ve been out for a walk with your oversized furball in the torrential rain, you get home, dry them off to the best of your ability and then you’re forced to watch as they run into the kitchen and shake. It doesn’t matter how well you think you’ve dried them, the ‘shake art’ gets EVERYWHERE.
Would it help you to put that shake on cue so you can dry your dog, ask them to shake and then get straight on to the important post-walk task of making a cuppa, rather than cleaning the shake art from the top of your kitchen cupboards?
I’m going to explain this by mentioning a clicker, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. When I ask you to ‘click’, just say ‘yes’ instead and that will act as your marker word, the same as if you’re clicking.
You need to be observant. Shaking isn’t something that happens as regularly as sitting or lying down, so the first thing to do is think about when your dog tends to shake. Is it when they wake up, after they stretch, when you’ve just put their harness on?
Pick the most common time that shaking happens and that will be the focus.
You now need to ‘click and treat’ when it happens. You don’t have to say ‘shake’ just yet, you’re just letting your dog know that you like what they’re doing. By clicking (or saying ‘yes’) and rewarding the behaviour with a treat, you’re marking the behaviour you’d like them to repeat.
If your dog does shake a second a time, ‘click and treat’ again. Remember, all we’re doing is showing them that we approve, wholeheartedly!
After you have practiced a few times and your dog has started to offer the behaviour a second time having been rewarded, you can add the word. So, when the shake starts, say the word ‘shake’ then ‘click and treat’. You can pick whatever word you’d like, shake just works for me as I won’t forget it. A trainer friend of mine uses the word ‘boogie’ which I think is brilliant!
Once you think your dog has made the association between the word and the movement, test them.
Ask them to shake (or boogie)! If they do it… BRILLIANT. If they don’t, it just means you need to spend a little bit more time helping them to make the association. We all learn at different paces so it’s all good! It’s just about repetition and rewarding the behaviour we’d like to see again.