Clicker training to make your dog more creative? You got it!
If you are new to clicker training, check out our introduction to clicker training article. If you have started clicker training and understand the principal behind how it works, you might be interested in the video below.
Teaching creativity is somewhat an advanced concept for people new to clicker training, but if you have done clicker training before, you might enjoy this game you can play with your dog called 101 Things to Do With a Box. Essentially the game encourages them to try new things. I like the video for two reasons. It shows how happy the dog is to play this game and because it has sub-titles explaining what the trainer is clicking for.
Dogs that have been trained with compulsion methods (i.e. forced based methods) and punishment are often reluctant to do anything for fear of being punished. This game helps them over come this. If a dog is willing to try different things, then it becomes possible capture different kinds of behaviours to train them to all sorts of different things. And this is all done with the dog experimenting to see what works. There is no need for you to coerce them into anything.
For example, I taught my middle-aged dog to fetch playing this game. She would chase what you threw, but never picked the things up, brought it back or released it. Ever. This dog did not fetch and before clicker training I had no real idea really how to encourage her. With this game as the starting point I taught her to do all these things – or at least that is what I think! She probably thought that she finally figured out how to manipulate me into giving her treats!
I taught another dog of mine – a pitbull – how to get inside a box and lie down in it. Super cute when the box was too small, but she didn’t seem to mind. And super-cute pitbulls are more likeable and less threatening to your guests. I also taught this same dog to toss the box. More cuteness. I suppose that might come in useful if she was working in television for something. Regardless it was fun for the both of us which helps the human/dog bond and provided some valuable environmental enrichment for her which is important for aggressive dogs.
You might also be interested in Karen Pryor’s article about this game: 101 Things to Do with a Box. This article clearly breaks down how to play this game.