Lesson 5 of 10
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A key to success for both ends of the spectrum: splitting

When trying to teach your food-training-challenged dog how to play the training game, think easy wins.

Make that your mantra: “I will give my dog easy wins.”

We need to break things down into tiny tiny steps to help them be successful and build momentum.

Easy wins make dogs feel good about what’s happening, which builds confidence and enthusiasm for training. It makes them more likely to push through moments of frustration and more willing to problem-solve.

So your criteria needs to be very small to begin with.

This is where splitting comes into play. Splitting means breaking a behavior down into smaller steps (or smaller criteria) to make it more likely that the dog will be able to accomplish that behavior.

Smaller steps means the dog gets reinforced more often, which results in stronger responses to cues. Splitting can help with dogs who easily frustrated or afraid of getting it wrong.

For example: using a food lure to teach Sparky to spin in a circle. Instead of luring them into doing a full spin and then mark/rewarding, which is called lumping, you might split the criteria down like this:

  1. Lure the dog into turning their head, M/R
  2. -Lure the dog into a quarter turn, M/R
  3. -Lure the dog into three quarter turn, M/R
  4. -And THEN finally, lure the dog into a full spin, M/R