Shaping

Shaping is where you use the dog’s own offered behaviour to get (eventually) a behaviour you want. E.g., if you want your dog to tilt her head on cue, you’d reward her each time she moves her head at the slightest angle. At some point, she realizes that her actions are “causing” the reward, and she’ll start offering more and more head tilts. Finally, you can add a cue (word or gesture) to prompt the action. It can be a bit slow — especially if you’re both new to it (as we are!), but it’s fun to watch your dog try to figure things out. Lyra loves it! And she tends to fall asleep after a session — so I know that her brain is working.

February 26, 2017: Oh dear. My attempt to shape “walk backwards” has turned into a Ministry of Silly Walks event. We’re having fun, and she is building duration of a sort, but should perhaps move on …

February 18, 2017: This is our third session shaping “walk backwards”. She’s starting to get it. Now I just have to figure out how to build duration and put it on cue!

February 10, 2017: I tried shaping a “random” action today, i.e., the first thing that Lyra offered. She lifted her left paw, so I clicked and gave her a treat. Well, all she wanted to do after that was lift her left paw! (If only it were so easy to shape loose-leash walking …)