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Whenever I'm teaching Aspen something new, she is SO insecure. She doesn't really "shut down". She's still engaged but she lays down and avoids... like she's afraid to do the wrong thing. I ALWAYS keep things very positive. Treats, toys, happy tones. She is never disciplined in any way for making the wrong choice, so I'm not sure why she does this. I usually teach one new thing at a time and surround it by things she knows, hoping to build her confidence. She is a sensitive girl who really wants to please. She learns SO fast. She learned to give her paw in 2 ten minute sessions. She learned to weave (not perfectly but really well) in 1 ten minute session.

Any suggestions are welcomed :)
 

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I have a couple sensitive dogs like Aspen. Free shaping games like 101 things to do with a box really helps ime. Start with super high rate of reinforcement and pretty much take anything she does. Then when you see bold interaction and repeated behavior (I look for a behavior repeated 4-5 times in a row), withhold the click and see what she does. Click new behavior or more enthusiastic responses. So for example yesterday Leggs and I played with a basket. I clicked and treated initially everything (looking at the basket, moving towards the basket, sniffing, etc.) at first. He's a pawsy dog so early on started pawing. He did 4-5 gentle paw touches in a row. I clicked and treated each. But as behavior ''stalled'' (almost identical repeated paw touches) I withheld the click on the next paw touch. He tried again with a little bounce and both paws into the basket. I clicked and treated that as it was new.

As dogs get better at these games it teaches them to get creative and to keep trying different stuff. Decreases frustration over incorrect responses and not receiving a treat for everything. Also seems to be less defaulting to a behavior like a sit or down when unsure.
 

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What kmes said. But also, if you are trying to teach something new, make sure you break it down into really, really tiny steps. It is unbelievably easy to accidentally ask our dogs to make HUGE leaps in comprehension, instead of breaking the big step down into tiny, incremental increases in difficulty. Which, for some dogs, decreases their confidence over time, because learning involves too much stress.

The other thing that leaps out is that you're talking about "ten minute sessions." Sometimes, it's good to have a ten second session, or a one minute session. I rarely do something for more than a few minutes without switching it up, because I want to keep my dog engaged at a pretty high level. Dogs aren't just learning what we are trying to teach them, they are also learning what "learning" with us is like. In that vein, I recommend this post from Denise Fenzi on the value of sometimes rewarding mistakes: Rewarding Mistakes | Denise Fenzi
 

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@SnackRat - I'm so obsessed with Denise Fenzi!!

I use the box game with both my guys, it's so fun, and I love watching the strange things they try in order to get treats. :p
 
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