Idea List for Shaping

Posted on 02/25/09 51 Comments

Okay, to follow up on the shaping post, here is my, not-yet-completed list of things to shape. When I get it finished, I will post in on my website. If you would, please look over the list, alert me to any duplications you see and write up your own suggestions. They don’t need to be “tricks” but rather responses you can shape. Some with props, some without. Certainly there are some behaviours unique to certain dogs. It may be easier to teach one do to speak quietly than another. Some of the behaviours I have taught to one of my dogs I likely wouldn’t consider for another (for example I don’t know if I would trust Buzz to hold a lite cigarette the way I did Stoni (he may decide he liked it too much but knowing him he would move on and get with Micheal Phelps for some real action:))).  Seriously there are physical strengths and weaknesses that makes one response more suitable for one dog over another. I wouldn’t teach a hand stand to a dog that wants to pull on their front end in agility but I would get them walking upright (provided they were strong enough for it). You also must consider the age, and physical attributes of your dog and perhaps consult a PT before you undertake them. Mostly they should be fun for both of you.

List of Ideas to Shape

  1. Shake a Paw 
  2. ItsYerChoice (cookies on your paws, face etc)                    

    Stoni performing "hold" and "Pals" - -  Shelby being a good sport!
    Stoni performing "hold" and "Pals" - - Shelby being a good sport!
  3. Wave
  4. Bow
  5. Cross Paws in Down
  6. Walk while crossing paws
  7. Chase tail one way then the other
  8. Show me Your Belly
  9. Stretch while on your back
  10. Speak
  11. Speak quietly
  12. Talk (different than barking)
  13. Crawl
  14. Back up
  15. Jump Into My Arms
  16. Limping on front leg
  17. Don’t Peak (cover your eyes)
  18. Dig
  19. Roll Over (one way) Tumble (the other)
  20. Play Dead 
  21. Moonwalk (back up while laying down)
  22. Pop Backwards vs walk backwards
  23. Jump Up & Down on the spot
  24. Walk on Front Paws
  25. Hold (any item)                    

    Twister praying.
    Twister praying.
  26. Stretch
  27. Get Your Tail (wrap from legs around mine)
  28. Take my Leg
  29. Where’s Your Big Butt (lay down and put your butt in the air)
  30. Target yourself with your nose
  31. Meow (lick Lips & growl)
  32. Dead Dog  
  33. Pray 
  34. Lick your lips
  35. Wipe your face
  36. cover your eyes
  37. In the chair
  38. Lift your rear leg on a person/chair etc
  39. Wrap yourself in a blanket
  40. Turn on/off lights
  41. “no” turn head in disagreement (do you agree?)
  42. sit up pretty
  43. Stand tall
  44. transition from sit pretty to tallpict2774
  45. Transition from tall to sit pretty
  46. Cover nose with both paws
  47. yawn
  48. open door / pull latch
  49. pick up and carry 
  50. growl/ show teeth
  51. lick your nose
  52. go under chair
  53. back flip
  54. circle around something
  55. High Five/10
  56. target with rear paw                         Feature doing puppy Yoga; “downward facing dog”
  57. Pals-put your arm around another dog                    
  58. Stand on two paws (on same side)
  59. Go to target & sit or down
  60. retrieve Kleenex
  61. Go-see–visit someone           
  62. Walk upright on hind legs         

    Feature sits pretty
    Feature sits pretty
  63. circle right, circle left
  64. Put toys away 
  65. Put stuff in the trash
  66. Discriminate items on scent
  67. Discriminate items on sight
  68. Lay flat out on your side
  69. Target your butt with your nose
  70. Pivot on front legs
  71. Pivot on rear legs (turn on haunches)
  72. Show your teeth/smile
  73. In a box then shrink it down—all paws in a tiny tupperware container
  74. Stand with your front paws on my shoes
  75. Walk with your front paws on my shoes
  76. Walk up the walk with rear legs 
  77. Puppy yoga (downward facing dog)
  78. Jump into arms
  79. Jump through my arms
  80. Jump and spin off of me
  81. Jump onto my back
  82.  weaving backwards between legs                   

    Encore playing ItsYerChoice
    Encore playing ItsYerChoice
  83.  Puppy Pretzel (roll your head as far between your front legs as possible)
  84. Bear Skin run – lay flat on with legs behind you and head on the ground
  85.  Praying on the bedside or chair
  86. Kill the toy (shake it violently)
  87. Clean the floor (allow me to drag you)
  88.  Balance on a physio disc
  89. Sitting pretty lifting one front paw then the other
  90. Give kisses
  91. Hand Target
  92. Give kisses to another dog
  93. Climb a ladder
  94. Ride a skate board
  95. Be pulled by another dog
  96. Stand with your 4 paws on my 2 legs (while I am sitting on the floor with my legs out in front)
  97. Rest your head flat on the floor
  98. Front paws up on the wall (like you are going to be frisked by a policeman)
  99. Hide your head under the couch
  100. Go to your bed,matt or other targeted location


Today I am grateful for the unique behaviours each of my dogs have learned over the years.


  1. cute puppy says:
    Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11:36pm

    It is perfect time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I’ve learn this submit and if I may just I desire to counsel you some attention-grabbing things or advice.
    Maybe you could write next articles relating to this article.
    I desire to learn more things approximately it!


  2. Whitney Engler says:
    Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:31pm

    Another behavior for improving balance is to put a boogiboard in a plastic kiddy pool and teach your dog to stand on it. You can gradually increase the water level, and once your dog has a really good grasp of it, you can even pull them on it when you’re in a real pool or lake.


  3. the dog club skin covers says:
    Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:07am

    “Say AH” really becomes helpful when she goes to see the veterinarian or as a demo for fun! Thanks for the list. You are right we sometimes forget about just the simple things that can be shaped into great, fun things to show off and to make us laugh.


  4. Virginia says:
    Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 11:49am

    1. Choca los cinco
    2. Aguanta (galletas en las patas, en la cara, etc)

    Stoni haciendo “sujeta” y “colegas” – – Shelby siendo un buen compañero
    3. Saluda con la pata
    4. Reverencia de juego
    5. Cruzar las patas delanteras desde la posición de tumbado
    6. Caminar cruzando las patas
    7. Perseguirse el rabo, en un sentido y el contrario
    8. Enséñame la barriga
    9. Estirarse mientras esta panza arriba
    10. Habla
    11. Habla bajito
    12. Charla(diferente tipo de ladrido)
    13. Arrastrarse
    14. Andar hacia atrás
    15. Saltar en mis brazos
    16. Cojear de la pata delantera
    17. No mires(cubre la cara con la pata)
    18. Escarbar
    19. Rodar , hacia ambos lados
    20. Hacerse el muerto
    21. Moonwalk (arrastrarse hacia atrás desde tumbado)
    22. Saltar hacia atrás mientras camina hacia atrás
    23. Saltar & Tumbado en el sitio
    24. Caminar con las patas delanteras unicamente
    25. Sujetar (cualquier objeto)

    Twister rezando
    26. Estirarse
    27. Cogete el rabo
    28. Coge mi pierna (en realidad es coger cualquier cosa con sus patas delanteras)
    29. ¿Donde está tu culo?(desde tumbado levanter el culo)
    30. Tocarse cualquier parte del cuerpo con su nariz
    31. Miau (relamerse los belfos y gruñir)
    32. Hacerse el muerto
    33. Rezar
    34. Relamerse los belfos
    35. Lavarse la cara(con la pata)
    36. Taparse los ojos
    37. Subirse a la silla
    38. Levantar la patita trasera como para hacer pis
    39. Taparse a si mismo con una manta
    40. Encender o apagar luces
    41. “no” decir que no con la cabeza
    42. Sienta con el cuerpo levantado(sientate bonito)
    43. Alzarse sobre las patas traseras 44.Pasar desde sentado bonito a alzarse

    44. Pasar desde alzado a sentado bonito
    45. Taparse el hocico con las dos patas
    46. Bostezar
    47. Abrir y cerrar puertas
    48. Coger algo y llevarlo a un sitio
    49. Gruñir/enseñar los dientes
    50. Relamerse el hocico
    51. Meterse debajo de una silla
    52. Dar la vuelta hacia atrás
    53. Rodear un objeto
    54. Chocar los 5 o los 10
    55. Target con las patas traseras
    56. Colegas:poner la pata sobre otro perro
    57. Levantar la pata delantera y trasera del mismo lado
    58. Ve a tu sitio, sentado o tumbado
    59. Traer los pañuelos para sonarse los mocos
    60. Ir a saludar a alguien
    61. Caminar sobre las patas traseras

    Sentado bonito
    62. Circulo a la izquierda, circulo a la derecha
    63. Recoger los juguetes
    64. Meter la basura en la papelera
    65. Discriminación de objetos por olor
    66. Discriminación de objetos por la vista
    67. Tumbarse de lado
    68. Target el culo con el hocico
    69. Pivotar con las patas delanteras fijas en un sitio
    70. Pivotar con las patas traseras fijas en un sitio
    71. Enseñar los dientes/sonreir
    72. Cuatro patas en un contenedor pequeñito
    73. Quieto con las patas delanteras en mis zapatos
    74. Caminar con las patas delanteras en mis zapatos
    75. Caminar con las patas traseras
    76. Puppy yoga (downward facing dog)
    77. Saltar en mis brazos
    78. Saltar entre mis brazos
    79. Saltar,apoyarse en mi y dar la vuelta
    80. Subirse a mi espalda
    81. Zigzag entre mis piernas pero caminando hacia atrás

    Encore haciendo “aguanta”
    82. Puppy Pretzel (meter la cabeza entre tus patas delanteras tan lejos como puedas)
    83. Bear Skin run – tumbado absolutamente estirado, patas traseras estiradas hacia atrás y cabeza apoyada en el suelo)
    84. Rezar en una silla o en la cama
    85. “Matar” el juguete (sacudirlo violentamente)
    86. Limpiar el suelo (permitirme que te arrastre)
    87. Balancearte en un disco de hacer ejercicio
    88. Sentado bonito y saludar con una pata y con la otra
    89. Dar besos
    90. Target con la mano
    91. Dar besos a otro perro
    92. Subir una escalera
    93. Skate, con la patineta
    94. Dejarse llevar por otro perro de la correa
    95. De pie con las cuatro patas en mis piernas(mientras yo estoy sentada en el suelo con las piernas estiradas)
    96. Apoyar la cabeza en el suelo completamente(mientras esta tumbado)
    97. Patas delanteras en la pared(como si te fuera a registrar un policía)
    98. Esconder la cabeza bajo un cojín
    99. 100.Ir a su sitio o cualquier zona que se le señale


  5. Laura says:
    Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 7:46pm

    New to the blog. Can anybody tell me how to teach my 5mth old BC puppy to jump in my arms ?


  6. Kim says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:49am

    Well, in the list I saw wave then later I saw sitting pretty – my Beagle-boy Shiloh will wave while sitting pretty. He also likes to dance or twirl while standing on his back legs. Both of my Beagles, Shiloh’n Shasta are Canine Good Citizens so they do have a few skills but they both can sit pretty, roll-over & back up. You can read more about them on our blog.


  7. Polly says:
    Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 11:07pm

    “thought I had a hind leg stompy dance – but it was just an itchy belly and he didnt remember it next time”

    McFuzzylugs – that has had me laughing all day!


  8. Michelle Blumenthal says:
    Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 11:02pm

    I love this list. I played with it for the month of July while I was living at our summer house with my 7 month old pup, and vowed that I would not think about agility, only tricks. I always worked in very short sessions, keeping everything to very short “clickable” parts and worked on something new every day. She absolutely loved the learning/ playtime and now, back in our real life, she comes to me at the same time every day with that look that says, “let’s play mom, I want to learn a new trick!” There is nothing like the undivided attention, energy and irresistable insistence of a puppy who loves to learn. Also, the daily game of doing tricks has evolved into simple flatwork and freestyle movements that have her thinking about working close to my body and away from my body. For example, she weaves at good speed through my legs as I walk forward or backward and widens or closes the loops depending on my arm movements. I never do this for more than about three passes through the “weaves,” then I tug or toss or treat so it’s a big reward for a small effort. The best thing about all of this is not just that I it helped my dog to love to play and learn (something I believe as people, with serious and busy lives, also deperately needed to learn), it has helped me unfocus on agility. We are having so much fun, we aren’t obsessed with obstacles and sequences like I was with my first agility dog. I know that when the time comes and puppy-bones are mature, she will be confident and focused and we will have the incredible relationship that I have always dreamed about having with my agility partner.


  9. A.Alfonso says:
    Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 9:57pm

    I teach my pups to close the kitchen cabinets…it helps them to get use to moving things and the reward doesn’t come until they “Bang” it. Also Saga’s infamous trick that earned me $5,000 in a trick contest….HUMP!!! ( I call it “Show some LOVE”) keep in mind she is a girl…and it has been very useful on the set… 😉 As always great idea to put it all these tricks on a list together!!



  10. Jenny Robertson says:
    Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 12:32am

    I’m a late-comer to the game here, but my dog’s favorite is “whisper”. It’s a very soft bark, that has become so subtle that it’s now just a muzzle twitch.


  11. Charlene Schreiber says:
    Friday, May 1, 2009 at 7:53am

    yesterday was my first “blog” experience. I realized that my positive self talk has dwindled. I am now inspired to “be grateful” on a daily basis like you Susan.
    I am also inspired to get off my rear and start training more effectively my own dogs.
    My volunteerism at the local dog club is no excuse!

    Thank you for continued inspiration.
    Today I am grateful I found this blog.


  12. Alfhild Winder says:
    Friday, March 20, 2009 at 12:53pm

    Love the tug stuff.

    Got any ideas for a non-retrieving 5-yr.-old Golden? Will chase and p.u. but drop before reaching person. Was heavily reinforced as pup for dropping stuff.


  13. Joakim says:
    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 9:56am

    Learning your dog to give you a hug, is really popular in our family! 🙂


  14. Trudie says:
    Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 6:18am

    Sorry, what I meant was, “how did you shape the smile ?”, assuming the cue you gave it later is “show your teeth/smile”.


  15. Trudie says:
    Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:28am

    P.S. I love the photo of “show your teeth/smile” What’s the cue ?
    Maybe “Howl With Me” isn’t truly shaped, because the cue is the behavior? In any case, it’s best saved for special occasions, like when no other members of the household are present.


  16. Trudie says:
    Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:07am

    There is only one tiny little thing. Apologies to John Pinette but number 41 should be “I say Nay Nay” !

    If “weaving frontwards between legs” counts the same as weaving backwards, and “howl with me”, then we only have about 86 more things to do to catch up ….

    About number 73, that tiny tupperware container (aren’t you glad you agreed to go to that party about 11 years ago !)… I can see your point about rear legs awareness… My doggie will get into a box, but when the container gets very tiny he puts 2 front legs in and gives me a look that says, confidently, “I’m IN “…


  17. JJ says:
    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 12:33pm

    New (I hope) idea: “spazz” – it’s really “shake”, but not to be confused with the cue word when the dog offers his paw. This trick is to have the dog shake his whole body like dogs do when they get wet and want to dry off.

    I have no clue how one would shape this. But I knew someone who used the cue word after a bath just before her dogs were about to shake. Once the dogs knew the cue, she found it a helpful command for several situations.


  18. dana says:
    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 1:39am

    a video would be great, I definatly want to see the backflip and the standing on front legs. I’v never seen a dog do a backflip for anything but a toy/ frisbee. and the standing on the front legs! not many dogs can do a proper handstand!



  19. Natalie Kirkwood says:
    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 12:05am

    Thanks for the list, we all love lists (so easy to tick them and move on apparently, I think I need a revolving list so I keep coming back to more foundations)

    My puppy has been struggling with confidence on the seesaw so I have been working on shaping with things that are less stable.
    I have just been shaping putting all 4 feet on a Dynaso ball, this is quite hard when the flat side is up. A bit easier when the flat side is down. Also been working with all 4 feet on a 55cm fit ball that is supported in a base so that it doesn’t roll. He managed this once in the 2nd session, but found it hard, so we will have to work for some duration. And we have also had a go at balancing an unsupported peanut shaped fitball as it moves in one plane.


  20. chantal says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 6:15pm

    I didn’t see: wave bye-bye


  21. Mary says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 2:40pm

    As everyone else has said, great list. I’ve often gone out on the web looking for lists of tricks and end up yawning because it’s the same old stuff.

    This list has lots of new things that we are going to have fun working on.

    One idea (either ask your web guy or email me and I can explain), you should make this a “page”. That way, it will show up in your sidebar (Under the “Stuff about Susan” link) and be set aside from your regular posts.

    I have a feeling lots of people are going to be referencing this list and coming back to it for inspiration. This would make it really easy to find.


  22. Chris McQ says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 12:01pm

    I have some of the items on the list on slighly different cues. I have Maeve do imitations of some dog friends.

    If I say “Be Buzz” she barks.

    If I say “Be Twister” she grabs my leg.

    If I say “Be Stoni” she stands in a beatiful pose. When people ask what she is doing, I says she’s “being perfect”.


  23. stacey says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 11:14am

    How about lifting a rear leg/foot to touch something? A friends’ dog does this and it’s pretty funny – people think he’s about to pee! He will lift either rear leg and touch his paw to the nearest vertical object – a post, human leg, wall…..


  24. Sandie says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 8:35am

    It would be awesome to see a video of your guys back flips. I found a jack doing a true back flip but can’t find a border doing one- one back cartwheels, not true flips.


  25. Ingerid Margrete says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 4:11am

    Another tip I don’t think I found in the list: “There’s something on your nose!”
    Here is my blog post with a video of it:


  26. havapuppy says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 12:17am

    GREAT List!
    additional trick, not sure if I saw “throw your toy” – dog throws a ball or toy about five feet in the air.


  27. pogonip says:
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 12:12am

    I love snob–dog looks away from you. And blowing bubbles in water.

    Your list is wonderful–it should give us some new ideas while the weather is still wintery!


  28. mcfuzzylugs says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 5:58pm

    Great list and i am liking the blog too, glad I found it

    Kids really like ‘what you saying’ where dog targets nose in your ear – like he is whispering to you

    Curtsy – bow with front paws crossed

    Wish I could figure out how to do most of these – we are not great at free shaping yet – thought I had a hind leg stompy dance – but it was just an itchy belly and he didnt remember it next time 🙁


  29. Luna's Mom says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 4:11pm

    My other favorite to shape is “Say AH”. Of course, this becomes helpful when she goes to see the veterinarian or as a demo for fun!
    Thanks for the list. You are right we sometimes forget about just the simple things that can be shaped into great, fun things to show off and to make us laugh.
    See you in a couple of weeks at Tweeners Camp!


  30. Jane says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 2:02pm

    Thanks for all the great ideas. I think 20 and 32 are duplicates, as are 17 and 36.

    My favorite cue for dead dog (not original) is “How’s my breath?”


  31. Aubrey says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 2:00pm

    is #17 dont peek, and #36 cover eyes the same?

    #20 is play dead, #32 is Dead dog, and #68 flat on side….aren’t they the same?

    And I need a picture of #76. I dont get it!

    Love the list! It’s nice to have something to reference. Maybe you could have a contest where we submit pictures or video of each trick for people to see some of them!

    a few others Ii thought of…
    Retrieving a hot dog.
    Closing a door.
    Flipping a pillow over.



  32. Nora says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 1:26pm

    Thanks for posting this list.

    One quick question, should #84 be “rug” instead of “run?”


  33. Julie says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:01pm

    Fantastic list. I found it fun to see several on the list I have done and ones I never even thought of.
    I have a few I have shaped I think of as variations to some on your list but I don’t think they are on the list.
    One is to target the wall or something specific with your nose from 15 ft away.
    One of the others I taught my dog was to point – lift front leg and point it out to the side – my cue for this is “which way did he go?” (way)
    I love all the ones where you have the dog touch different parts of their body – I taught my dog to put his nose under his front armpit when laying down.
    I don’t think I saw any crawling – either forward or back ward.
    Thanks again for the great list – now i am going to be having more fun with my pups.


  34. Naomi says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 11:25am

    Love the list!!

    Another trick: Sneeze on command. I wiggle my pointer finger at my dogs for the command.


  35. Polona says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 11:23am

    Great list! There’s a few tricks I haven’t thought my little red girlie yet.

    For some additional tricks…
    My girl also knows how to bring me her front paws, lift her back paws with her mouth, put bricks in a small tower, dig herself under the bed covers, scratch her back on the rug, put her rear paw on her nose (while lying down, working on standing version) and slalom a football between traffic cones with her nose.


  36. Rascal's Trainer says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:47am

    It would be cool to see some videos of you training your dogs to do some of these tricks.


  37. Rascal's Trainer says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:46am

    Cool list. I’ll have to try these. I’ve even done some of these with my eight year old Aussie. Keep up the great work. Love your blog.


  38. Carol says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 8:25am

    Susan, thank you so much for the list! I look forward to your blog daily. There are some things in your list I will have to train my boy. BTW, not sure if you listed sneezing but I am currently working on that one.


  39. Susan Kennedy says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 8:00am

    Thanks for the list…I love shaping(and lists)…I’m putting a copy in my training log now…your blog is always interesting and useful. THANKS


  40. Trish says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:50am

    Thank you so much for the shaping list! (I love lists – easier for me to sort thru than when the are part of a sentence). I believe you refer to many of these for Body Awareness as well? What about that Puppy Grid comment? What is that? (still wondering)

    Thanks so much for your blog – it is really a wonderful bonus to be able to ‘chat’ and learn from you in this fashion.

    BTW – did you ever see my video of my Kitty 2×2 weaves? (via email) 🙂


  41. Virginia says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:09am

    I love your blog…you are a great trainer and a wonderfull inspiration for me. I will love to translate and paste in my blog this list of shaping (if you agree to) to share with other spanish speaker trainers….
    Thank you very much for everything you share in this blog…
    Besos desde España


  42. Katie says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:07am

    What a great list! Some of these I have never thought about, I will have to try them out and see how they go. Just a quick note – #15 and #78 are duplications (jumping into arms).


  43. Sandrine says:
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 4:19am

    Thanks Susan for everything your share daily with us. I just love your blog that is a great source of inspiration and reflexion. As today is a very sunny day our session of weave training (i’m at day 5 and it’s working great) is sure to be fun !



3 Trackbacks

  1. […] down an amazing foundation for agility. I would say no more than 5 of these behaviours are on our “tricks” list this group came up with earlier in the year. What may shock you is that none of these skills involve any equipment or […]

  2. […] without putting the puppy on equipment and another of tricks to teach. Since we already have a “trick” resource on this blog I felt it redundant to post those. Although there are some skills in this […]

  3. […] possible to get their reward. So if they learn they can get the reward without sitting, they will. Shaping behaviors is what the pros call […]

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