There is nothing Iggy enjoys more than shoveling snow, he will do this all day until his back legs are shaking from exertion.
As I shoveled the wonderful fluffy snow yesterday it got me thinking about what Iggy had to learn so he could continue to enjoy the snow. This post is about letting your dog do what he enjoys with some rules so it doesn't become dangerous for you or the dog.
I have been taking courses for a couple of years now with Susan Garrett and I have to say my understanding of using the concept of building value instead of corrections to have been one of the most enlightening things I have learned, not just with dog training but child rearing and life. I have been what would be considered a positive dog trainer for about 14 years but am still learning how to become more respectful of the dog while still creating a dog that is a joy to live with.
My goal was, he was allowed to jump at the snow once it left the shovel not when it was on the shovel because I was worried he would break a tooth and he kept knocking the snow off so we weren't getting anywhere with the shoveling and of course absolutely no biting of the hands EVER.
With anything like this you have to be willing to try something see if the dog changes his behaviour and then move on if you don't get the results you are looking for. The skill comes with knowing what to try and knowing how long to wait before moving on to something else. The longer the dog has practiced the behaviour the longer it will take to see a result.
First step was I would put the snow on the shovel and lift it an inch off the ground if Iggy did not move forward I would quickly throw it, if he moved forward I would put it back on the ground. After a few repetitions of this I waited until he backed up before I would throw it. So the behaviour now looked like this. When the shovel came up into the air he should be backing up. At any time if he didn't back up I would just wait and he would remember himself and back up.
The next step was to deal with the biting of my hands. If at any time he came towards my hands I would lay the shovel on the ground and tie my boot. This is what would be called response cost, biting at my hands makes me throwing the snow take longer so very quickly disappears. If the behaviour hadn't disappeared then I would have had to come up with a bigger response cost.
I was very pleased. With no yelling or bitching we accomplished my goals. Think about behaviours that your dog does that you can work on changing with positive methods.
Have a great day and enjoy your dogs.
P.S.: Just a note, like everything else this game has pros and cons. Shoveling dirt (or anything else) in the summer that you don't want him to swallow is a problem. Since I don't do a lot of this we usually just practice our down stays so he doesn't end up eating a lot of dirt. :)