There are many conventional techniques that have been used to train dogs over the years, one of which is shaking a can filled with coins. Many owners and trainers have chosen the behavior modification method that incorporates a “shake can,” and this combination is actually widely used to assist individuals in modifying their canine’s behavior.
Usually, shaking a can is not considered bad for dogs. Instead, it serves as an “assistance tool” that, when used properly, may aid you in altering some undesired canine behaviors.
It should be emphasized that a shake can and any other analogous noise mechanisms are used as tools for the “startle/stop” method for certain behaviors, not as a means to control a dog’s behavior in its entirety. Shaking the can just once should get your dog’s attention and get him to stop indulging in whichever activity you don’t want him engaging.
To “startle” your dog, you simply just produce an unexpected and loud noise that will cause him or her to “stop” whatever action in which they are were currently engaging. Typically, the startle effect and subsequent cessation of activity are both extremely brief, lasting only around 2-3 seconds.
However, there is one drawback of shaking a can with coins. If your dog is not accustomed to such a startling and loud noise, there is the chance that they may show some aggressive or fearful behavior. This is due to the fact that a canine’s hearing capabilities are far greater than ours, and they are far more easily disturbed by the sharp noise of the can.
When it concerns achieving the desired output from your dog, it is critical that you learn how to most effectively use a shake can to avoid any stress or unwanted reactions along the way.
Using a Shake Can as a Dog Training Tool
For the most part, dogs do not correlate the sharp, cutting noise of something like a shake can (see Amazon) with the action in which they were engaged. They also don’t typically associate it with whichever behavior from which you were initially seeking to distract them. It’s the fact that such a sound is an unfamiliar disruption that may make a dog fearful, and this is when you’ll see them respond accordingly.
Using a shake can for training implies that each time a dog does a certain activity, the unpleasant and scary sound (the shake can, in this case) occurs, and the dog will develop the belief that whatever they are doing is causing the sound to “go off.” If he or she were to become desensitized to the sound though, the behavior may continue.
Ideally, the sound should cause them to stop the undesired behavior out of fear of the noise and eventually lead to them stopping the unwanted behavior indefinitely. However, the ‘shake can’ strategy is a bit useless if it’s simply used as a stand-alone component of the whole process needed to help change a dog’s behavior. By using this strategy, though, you will be able to modify your dog’s behavior without yelling at or physically punishing them.
Dogs seldom respond well by being yelled at or receiving physically correction. Doing either of these may result in the dog developing an adverse reaction to the human yelling at or physically fixing him or her in the long run, whether that’s fear or aggression. Your presence may instill fear in them, provoke an aggressive response, or they may simply conclude that it is in their best interests to avoid you.
When used correctly, the shake can method is helpful since the dog will not associate an unpleasant sound or experience with you specifically. This will allow them to associate the sound far more quickly with just whatever it is they were doing. After a while, this technique teaches the dogs that a certain behavior results in something unpleasant, yet another activity results in you—their owner or trainer—being pleased and that they will receive some type of reward.
According to experts, the shake can technique transforms bad behavior into a “self-correcting” habit rather than a “self-reinforcing” one.
When utilizing the shake can technique, the basic approach is to strive for the “startle/stop” reaction and then redirect the dog’s behavior and the specific action. As a result, you can easily practice the shake can technique with an actual shake can or just anything else that makes a loud noise and elicits the “startle/stop” response in your dog. However, if you’re willing to invest a small amount of time and effort, you can also make your own shake can at home.
How to make your own conventional shake can
To make a shake can, you simply need to place some coins, screws, nuts, and/or bolts in a Coke can or another metal container—you can use any form of a metal container, although the size of a Coke can is ideal for holding in your hand. The main goal of the craft is making sure you’re able to shake and hear the sound of metal on metal. Seal the can, if possible, or tape the container’s lid tight with duct tape to prevent the items inside from slipping out during shaking.
Additional Notes on the Shake Can Method
- When you shake the can (or produce the startling sound by whatever other means), you do not shake it two or three times. To elicit the “startle/stop” reaction, the sound must be sharp, abrupt, and unexpected in its presentation. If you continually shake the can in your hands or repeat the sound multiple times, you will not trigger the startle/stop reaction and, therefore, the method will be ineffective.
- Use of the shake can or other chosen noise should be well-controlled. If the dog is continuously exposed to the sound or exposed to it for a lengthy period of time, it will ultimately become “desensitized” to it—the more that they hear it, the more that the noise will eventually fade away and become indistinguishable from the other sounds in their environment. At this point, the strategy’s effectiveness will have lapsed because they’ll have no reaction nor inclination to react to the sound anymore.
- If you find yourself using the shake can method very frequently, you should reduce how often you choose to employ this method. The emphasis and impact of such sharp noises are lessened when they become too familiar. When your dog no longer reacts because he or she has become relatively comfortable and unphased by the sound, you will likely need to consider other options for modifying your dog’s undesired behavior.
- Be as discrete as possible when using the shaking can. There should be no relationship between the sound and anything other than “the habit” that you want to eliminate or change. You do not want the sound of the shake can specifically associated with you, either.
- When certain dogs hear a new or unexpected noise (such as the sound of coins in a can), they also may bark or try to start a play session with their owners.
Tip: Always use common sense and caution when dealing with any form of behavior modification.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.