In dog training, there is a valuable behavior known as fly which involves teaching a dog to circle a cone. This skill has proven incredibly useful in various training sessions, such as heeling and front games, introducing the concept of striding out on the broad jump, enhancing commitment for agility obstacles, directed jumping, and much more! It’s no wonder many dogs highly value this behavior.
Shaping or Luring to Circle the Cone?
When teaching your dog to perform the fly, you can use two training approaches: luring and shaping. I often utilize luring by coaxing new puppies around the cone initially. Once they grasp the concept, I transition to shaping the behavior, allowing them to actively participate and learn through a more interactive process.
Rewarding any expression of interest or interaction with the cone is essential to shape the fly behavior. If your dog looks at the cone, acknowledge the action with a marker (such as a clicker or a verbal cue) and provide a treat close to the cone. Subsequently, you can throw another treat to encourage your dog to continue circling the cone.
Your dog should start exhibiting genuine curiosity and engagement with the cone in a relatively short time. At this stage, a touch of creativity in treat-tossing is required. As your dog moves closer to the cone, mark the behavior and toss a treat past the cone. The dog will likely consume the treat and return to you, so they will continue circling the cone. To reinforce this behavior, mark the return and toss another treat, motivating your dog to complete the circle.
With consistent practice, you can gradually merge all the components and reduce reliance on the tossed treats. Your dog should be able to circle most of the cone before you toss the treat during this training phase.
Once your dog has mastered circling the cone without much dependence on the tossed treats, it’s time to introduce some distance. However, it’s crucial to approach this step gradually and incrementally to ensure your dog’s success.
Before you know it, your efforts will pay off, and you’ll have a fun independent fly behavior!