How to Train Dogs With a Shake Can

By Susan Paretts

When training your dog, use a shake can to interrupt behaviors you don't want and positively reinforce the behaviors you do want. A shake can simply consists of a soda can filled with some coins or metal screws. This form of constructive discipline won't harm your dog, it simply distracts him long enough from performing unwanted behaviors for you do teach him what you want him to do.

Create the Shake Can

Use an aluminum soda can or metal dog food can to make your shake can.

  • Rinse out the can and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  • Fill the can with 10 to 30 coins, like pennies, or with small metal screws, nuts, bolts or washers.
  • The can should be full enough so the coins rattle around loudly inside when you shake it up and down. It should be light enough for you to carry around during training.
  • Seal the top of the can with duct tape or a plastic pet food lid over aluminum foil. You'll find pet food lids in most pet supply stores. This will keep the coins from falling out when you shake it.

Use Constructive Discipline

Constructive discipline simply involves marking your dog's unwanted behavior with an audible correction, recommends trainer Victoria Stilwell on her website

  • A shake can makes a loud sound, much like clapping your hands, which will stop your pup from barking excessively, eliminating indoors, jumping on people or gnawing on off-limits items.
  • The sound won't scare your dog or otherwise harm him, but he won't like it and it will distract him from whatever unwanted behavior he is in the midst of.
  • Reward him with a treat only when he isn't doing the behavior you've interrupted. For example, give him a series of treats when he's being quiet just after you shake the can, not when he's barking if you want to discourage excessive barking.

Train Your Pooch With the Can

When your pup does something you don't want, such as barking excessively, shake the can only once to stop the behavior. If you shake the can multiple times in a row, your pup quickly will become desensitized to the sound and the training tool will become ineffective, warns the West Highland White Terrier Club of America.

Once your pup stops doing what you don't want, immediately redirect his attention onto something you do want. For example, if you don't want your dog to chew on your couch cushions, shake the can once to distract him when he does so, before redirecting his behavior onto something acceptable, like a chew toy. If your pooch is eliminating indoors, distract him with the shake can and bring him outdoors to finish. Reward him for eliminating outside.

Shake Can Tips

Some trainers recommend throwing the shake can in front of your dog to stop his unwanted behavior. If you do this, never actually hit your dog with the can, which could injure him and cause him to fear you.

Remain consistent with your training. Keep a few shake cans around your home so that you can correct your dog's behavior wherever you are.

Once you shake the can, either redirect the behavior into something acceptable or ignore your dog. You don't want to negatively reinforce the unwanted behavior or stress out your dog, which scolding your pooch verbally or physically can do.