Manding Training

Imagine how frustrating it would be for you if you felt you were unable to ask for things.   This is a frustration that people with autism can sometimes feel.  Fortunately, manding training is used to help individuals with autism learn to overcome this challenge.   Manding is a way for the autistic to ask for things.  On a site run by an Autism specialist, there’s a page that goes into greater detail about what manding is:

Manding – What is That?

Manding can also be taught to dogs

A dog can learn to mand at any age, and some dogs do so naturally.   A dog who learns to mand, particularly from a young age, is often a happier, more relaxed dog.   For dogs, manding usually comes in the form of a voluntary sit (I’ve met a few dogs who mand from a standing position, and I think that’s OK, too).  If the sit is preceded by a cue from the handler, that is not a mand.  A proper mand is offered by the dog, not asked for by the handler.  The mental process to sit voluntarily is different for a dog than if asked to do so.  What makes manding so beneficial for a dog is knowing that he or she can ask for things in a way that is acceptable to humans.

How to teach manding to a litter of puppies?

You’ll need a training clicker and some pea-sized hotdog pieces.  Place the puppies in an ex-pen or similar arrangement where they can see you and you can reach them.  Hold the clicker and treats behind your back.  Each time a puppy puts his or her butt on the ground, click and treat.  Don’t say sit, don’t say anything.  Continue this for 3 or 4 minutes.  You can conduct manding training multiple times per day.  Within a few days, most if not all pups in the litter will be manding.  I start manding training with a litter at around day 20, and continue it daily until the puppies go home.

Looking behind the curtain

By way of explanation, the process of training a dog to mand involves a clicker as a conditioned reinforcer (Pryor, 2019) and treats as primary reinforcement.  With a puppy, manding training is valuable on at least two levels.  First, the young puppy learns that to sit patiently in front of a human being is a rewarding experience.  Second, the pup learns that he or she can offer behaviors and receive rewards.  A puppy armed with this knowledge will use it throughout its life, offering both new and existing behaviors to please its handler.

References

Pryor, K. 2019. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training. Simon & Schuster. https://books.google.com/books?id=Sly8DwAAQBAJ.

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Tony Bierman, "Manding Training," OBTESA, Accessed June 18, 2024, http://esbt.us/5l.