Confession: I love Puppy Culture! It is helpful for puppy parents, rescuers, breeders, trainers, even vets! The more we can help our young little babies, before they even enter our crazy world, the better. (Please visit puppyculture.com/buy to obtain your copy, and to study up today!)
So, aside from highlighting Jane Killion’s brilliant puppy rearing DVD chock full of training advice, development info, and health recommendations, I wanted to explain manding, a skill application trained by capturing and shaping methods, that’s used to help dogs communicate with us. I also select excerpts from Puppy Culture below in which Jane Killion defines manding.
The skill of manding is beyond helpful! With it, our puppies feel heard and people can see, and appreciate, appropriate behavior from their dogs. My favorite thing in puppy training has always been teaching automatically offered manners of sitting, relaxing in new environments, and offering focus – all without request! Who wouldn’t want a puppy who sits to say hi, who goes to new places and lies down, who sniffs and checks back in with their parent (on leash or off), and we needn’t say a word?!
But how do we get there? Capture, shape, reinforce, set up for success! Capture & shape those sits with a *click* or “yes!” and then reward with treats & praise. Do the same with any look aways from big distractions & with any check ins up toward you. This is why I love capturing and shaping… We capture and build a skill until it is fully formed and repeated for reps without a cue. We become familiar with the dog’s specific body language, and label the skill after successful reps, so we are sure the dog will perform the skill just after we say a funny little word like “down” or show a weird hand signal… and the behavior becomes default, and paired properly and accurately to a label!
To help them learn to settle, take puppies to new places & give them a chew to enjoy. (Make sure you exercised them a bit before you go to practice relaxing!) This application of Classical Conditioning & enrichment (and, addressing a dog’s needs) is all training, believe it or not! It’s similar to taking kids to a restaurant and giving them a game on a tablet or a coloring menu… Eventually, we can fade the tools that help them learn how to act appropriately. Once there is maturity, successful practice, ability to reproduce the calm behavior in many places, the skill will be understood and more easily performed. These behaviors will take time in building, but can last a lifetime! (And we can, and should, still reinforce with a food reward here and there even after fading tools. When we work hard, we need paychecks and vacation as reinforcers!)
Breeders and rescuers, and those working with puppies within their first 12 weeks, can help puppies learn to communicate, relax, focus, before they enter their forever home. (Or if they arrive home at 8 weeks, start immediately!) If we can do this, then adopters and parents will be less frustrated in trying to prevent & train pups “not to” jump, get over-excited, or pull on leash/ignore people around distractions! Instead we can reinforce them what to do. And we can teach them they have a way of speaking to us. The sooner we can teach them the best voice to talk to us in, the less prevention trainers and parents would need to do – because the dog already knows how to ask for things! Educating adopters and parents on the methods, applications, and benefits of teaching puppies to mand, helps them appreciation and continue on the established work, which leads to an appropriately behaved dog.
I have trained pups not only the skills of sit, relaxation, and focus with capturing and shaping, but also stay, down, go to your bed (which also uses targeting), gentle mouthing, loose leash walking, and leave it. Here is a video of me dropping food while in the kitchen. You can see Lucy look at the food, then look at me. I don’t have to ask her to leave it! By capturing and shaping to train giving up desired items, the behavior becomes built in rather than something you need to request! She also mands by looking from the item then up to me. I respond with either tell her, “Good girl,” for checking in & I remove the item, or “Yes!” to mark looking at me and not grabbing the food then rewarding her, or letting her know “take it” for dropped items she can have!
Here is a blogpost by a breeder who worked on manding with her litter: dignblog.wordpress.com
My goodness! Why wouldn’t we work on manding?!
For a more complete definition on manding, please view Puppy Culture, and reference the quotes from Jane Killion below…
“Dogs have needs and they communicate them through behaviors. The need to be heard is a deep, emotional need for all social animals. And we are saying to him, ‘You have voice. I’m gonna listen to you, but I’m going to show you how you can speak to me.’”
“…If you chose to let this go, and then just correct the puppy – I mean, you know, not too harsh, but correct him, stop him… you would have shut down his voice. The dog no longer has a way to communicate his need to you.”
“I think that, most people through the absolute best intentions, and they love their dog, will suppress a dog or correct problem behaviors because they think that’s what they should do. Because that’s what they’ve been told a good dog is. But what I want you to understand is you need to stop thinking about it in terms of… stopping problem behaviors, and think about it in terms of teaching your dog how to talk to you.”
I so hope Puppy Culture’s methods catch on for many rearing puppies out there. I personally hope in the future to raise a rescue litter with Jane’s recommendations! I doubt that’s in the near future, due to living in a small space, but stay tuned cause I know it’ll happen sometime… and I will obviously keep you all posted when it does!