Terry, I think a gentle pawing at the box is not such a terrible thing – Hunter does that sometimes – but you definitely do not want that to progress to forceful box-smashing! Rapid reward/pairing can reduce the pawing behavior – of course you don’t want to be hanging on the hide either. In practice, where I know the location of the hide, I tend to give a verbal “yes” as I dive in to reward. Sometimes I give that verbal before he has really made a decision, but that gets him to look at me and wait for his cookie. I don’t really “think” about the “yes” – it just comes out… I do think the verbal marker has strengthened his “look at me” alert. I try not to give the verbal all the time – I have to think about not saying it, though. I think the verbal is a lot like pairing hides – just make sure you don’t use it about 10% of the time.