The Magic Shake Can for Dog Behavior Training

by Emily

My dog has always had a horrible habit of barking at people who pass by on the street. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I took an empty aluminum can and rinsed it out. Then I took a handful of pennies and dropped them into the can. I duct taped the top shut.

Here's how it works. Whenever Max would bark, I would say "No bark!" and shake the can. This would get Max's attention and he would stop barking. Then I would give him a food treat and praise him. I continued this and eventually, when I'd say "No bark!" He wouldn't bark!

Well, I found it doesn't just work with barking. It also works with other unwanted behaviors, such as jumping on guests. The key phrase can be slightly adjusted.

Note: Watch your dog's reaction. If he seems scared of the can, discontinue use. You should NEVER punish your dog for a behavior that is instinct.

Emily, thanks for sharing this training device and technique with us. This sounds similar to what I've been learning about hands off clicker training, where the dog associates the sound of the clicker with a treat or something positive.

Of course, you want to be sure that you only reward your dog when the desired behavior occurs - you have to be quick with your timing! If you happen to offer the treat while the dog is still barking or jumping up on something, or the dog is doing something else by the time the shaking and treat arrive, the dog will think that THAT is the behavior you want.

If things aren't working as Emily described, it is likely that you are not doing something properly - don't blame the dog! Also, remember to be consistent and patient, as Emily indicates she was.

Another thing to keep in mind is that others in your household need to be on the same page with you about this training, otherwise it will be undermined. I experienced this when trying to train Comet out of chasing cats - someone else thought it was normal for a dog to chase cats because that was part of their growing up experience, rather than a problem to be dealt with. As a result, Comet was never fully reliable off leash. It would have been much less stress on all of us if he had been properly trained...


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