I train with Maisy almost every day. She's a busy dog who needs mental exercise to stay sane. Usually I train performance-related behaviors, but this week, I decided to do something different: the Go Click Challenge. This week's challenge was to teach your dog to push a ball with her nose.
The problem with this challenge was that one of Maisy's natural behaviors is to push her ball with her nose. It's incredibly adorable, but not something we ever taught her to do. It's just how she brings the ball back after we throw it. So, in order to make it a challenge for her, I worked on putting the behavior on cue (I had hoped for stimulus control, but didn't quite get there).
Once that was done, I worked on generalizing the behavior to other things. First with other balls (my husband was amazed when he saw her pushing the exercise ball with her nose because she is- well, was- incredibly scared of it), then we worked on cylindrical things like batteries and pop cans. Finally, we worked on boxes of all sizes.
I did need to do some shaping for the not-ball items. The large box was the hardest one to teach, and required the most steps during shaping. I did cheat once: we got stuck on the step where she touched the box with her nose. I couldn't get her to do any more force. To get around that, I showed her what I wanted by pushing the box with my hand, and then clicking and treating. On the very next trial, she pushed the box with her nose! This isn't the first time that she's learned through observation, but I gather that it isn't very common.
Anyway, this was very fun to do, and while I probably won't do every Go Click Challenge, I'll definitely be doing more!