Who’s Shaping Who Two

Posted on 09/16/09 46 Comments

Carrying on from yesterday’s post here are some more ways dogs have learned to shape their humans. Many dogs learn how effective hunger strikes can be when shaping a human. People can’t stand to watch a dog miss a meal. The moment a dog turns up his nose to his routine breakfast 9 times out of 10 the bowl is taken up and either canned food or bits of cheese are added to it. Awesome gig for a dog if you can get it, really!

DeCaff practicing her mechanics as a puppy
DeCaff, as a puppy, practicing her training mechanics.


Don’t think this human shaping is restricted to only pet dogs.  No way, lets look at the agility ring. Dog canters around the agility ring showing moderate speed. You carry on every time, more or less ignoring him until you get to the end of the run where you present him with his reward. Then one day your dog stops cantering and slows to a trot. Wow all of a sudden you turn into a candidate for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleadering squad. “Com’on, com’on, com’on, thata boy! You can do it. What’s wrong boy, lets get going, com’on, com’on, com’on!”  Dog learns; hmmm when I go fast you ignore me but if I slow down you show my all kinds of attention and praise.


Now you are going to train this agility dog, you do a sequence offer the dog his tug toy and he won’t take it. You start dancing around, still he doesn’t take it so you give him a cookie. Dog learns that he can get you to produce the reinforcement of his choosing. 


Next time out you are running a sequence at home and  the dog decides to not go down on the table. He stress pants and looks away from you. Concerned, you pull out a cookie and lure him to the down position. Hmmm says the dog, I went down on that table 6 times last week and a “good boy” is all I got from you. Now when I choose to not  go down, you produce a cookie!  Dog thinks, note to self, drop the automatic down crap on the table.”


However I think the dog’s most brilliant discovery is the use of voice. It starts when, from his crate, he hears your car in the driveway home after a long day at work.  He is so happy you are home he starts his fan fare the moment your car door slams. The barking, the wiggling, the whining. He announces your arrival with every tool he can use from the confines of his crate. Subconsciously or otherwise, your ego has been stroked as no-one has ever been that happy to see you in a long time. You smile and go to greet the dog, letting him out of crate and then outside to potty. Hmm says the dog, I must use this barking dog gig other places. He then implements the barking craze to go outside, or to come inside or even to just get your attention as you turn to him and say “would you p-l-e-a-s-e shut UP!”


And my personal favorite, the dog shaping their human to dance. Picture this you take out a big handful of cookies to train your dog. You are about to shape behaviours so you wait until your dog shows you something brilliant. Your dog stares at the treat hand non-stop attempting his own version of the Vulcan Mind-melt on you. He may even whimper or nudge your hand until finally you move your hand behind your back. To which your dog goes behind your back so you respond by moving the hand up under your chin or on top of your head. All you need now is to “do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around” and your dance would be complete.

If you want to amuse yourself some time watch a human interact with their dog some time and you will agree with me that dogs are far, far better at shaping people than people are at shaping dogs.  Tomorrow for your entertainment and to prove you are not alone, I will confess to the behaviours my own dogs have been able to shape in me!


Today I am grateful that we can all laugh at our own unconscious screw ups.


  1. Jenni Raines says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 6:13pm

    Shaped me: My border collie LOVES swimming. but when we’re off lead I dont always release him for his “go swim” by the river so my best buddy will find poo (usually another dogs) to roll in and cover himself (its so gross he’s even managed to find human poo twice! so darn nasty!!) then he bolts up to me smiling from ear to ear cause he knows i wont let him in my car seat until he’s been dunked in a water course of some kind… and he is clever enough to know that I will walk FOREVER to find one if i have to!!!!
    I think this is the only department (that i’m aware of) that my dog has really got me shaped, and I ashamed to say I dont quite know what to do with this one… 🙂


  2. Gene Thornton says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:05pm

    All Vizslas are born knowing that if you wait at the door patiently, maybe utter a little desparate whine, mommy will get off the sofa and let you out, only to discover that the aforementioned Vizsla will now be heading to the pantry where the treats are. But my 10 year old VZ took this inborn ability even farther. She likes to sit on a certain spot on the sofa, so if someone (or another dog) is in that place, she goes to the door. When the door is opened for her, of course the human is out of the spot, so it is free for the dog to now to pop onto the sofa and plop down with a satisfied sigh. If another dog is occupying that spot, it rises and races to the door to play outside. Before the other dog can exit the door, the 10 year old is comfortably settling into her now vacant favorite spot on the sofa. The other dog caught onto this (although mommy and daddy haven’t seemed to manage), so the 10 year old has gone so far as to actaully exit the door (to draw the other dog off the sofa), and even pretend something interesting is happening outside.


  3. Karen H. says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:50am

    Whew! Thanks everybody for revealing how you have been shaped by your fur-kids. I have 2 standard poodles that are far too smart for me. Our rescue has both my husband and me wrapped around her tail! We felt so sorry for her that all she had to do was show even the tiniest bit of happiness or interest in life and we would throw a party for her with great treats & lavish attention on her. We were so happy that she was happy … and she knew it. She has figured out that if I am training our other poodle, all she has to do is coming running up beside me and sit within arms reach, look up appealingly, wag her tail and she will get a treat. However, if I ask her to sit, she cowers and huddles down looking totally submissive, resulting in me showering her with sweet talk, petting and even a treat to get her up again. Recently she took it one step further, as she has shaped me to carry her places when she doesn’t feel like walking. My reward is a sweet kiss and a “happy dance” once we arrive and I put her gently down. Her recall is great because she has trained me to always reward her with a treat. The catalog of things she has shaped me to do it huge, but I don’t mind. It is just the ebb and flow of life with intelligent dogs. Never a dull moment and always lots to laugh over. What wonderful, happy memories we will have of these 2 beautiful, intelligent companions.


  4. Lynda Redman says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:34am

    I’ve decided to turn this “human shaping” into a positive. When my BC just stands and stares at me after a command, I’m just going to do the hokey pokey anyway. He’ll love it and the neighbours will realise “yes I think I can dance”


  5. Jen says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 12:58am

    I just recently realized my dog was attempting to teach me to give him a cue to be quiet, so that he could get a treat. The sequence was, bark –> quiet cue–>possible treat he’d be quiet a few minutes, then start again. As soon as I realized this, I changed the sequence. It’s now bark–>I turn my back to him–> silence—> I walk back and give attention and maybe a treat. If he barks on my way back, I turn again.
    The rats have me trained to, but I let them. I walk in my sister’s room,the rats, particularly the dark one, comes running to the top of the cage. I want them to keep greeting me, so I always make sure to find them a little treat.


  6. Marina says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 12:18am

    My little poocheroo Kasie’s favourite trick was pretty simple. We would go to some locaI walking trails, with ponds and a rainforest setting. I would throw a chuck-it ball or a stick and she would fetch. Did she bring it back for a lovely treat? Well no of course not. She would take the item and trot off through the underbrush. I would see her going behind a tree and then she would come out, smiling happily, minus the ball or stick. She expected me to go where she’s just been, and get it myself. I would grunt and get the dang thing. It took a while to sink in, but she she felt that if I was making her run, she’d make me fetch. She is a laughing kind of dog, so that’s okay.


  7. Sara Reusche says:
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 12:14am

    I’m a slow learner, but apparently I can be trained too.

    I’ve wanted for a long time to teach my Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog (okay, she’s a mixed breed) to stretch on cue. I started verbally marking her every time she stretched in my presence and rewarding her with whatever was most handy (treats, tug, cueing her to do other favorite tricks). After about 2 weeks of this, I started adding my verbal cue (steee-retch) right as she initiated the stretching sequence.

    This procedure had previously worked very well for my Labradork, who now stretches nicely on cue. I couldn’t figure out why my little neo-village dog wasn’t “getting it.” She frequently stretched in my presence, but wouldn’t do so on cue.

    Finally after a couple months of this, I figured out that SHE had been training ME all along. Whenever Layla wanted my attention, she would come find me and stretch. This would invariably make me drop whatever I was doing and do something fun with her. Her stretching had become a cue for me to play with her, and she had me under VERY good stimulus control. She could get me to stop reading, eating supper, and even make me cut short my computer time. If I ignored the cue once, she would withdraw without giving me a second chance and ignore me for the rest of the day, and would not offer the cue for me again for several days. By that time I would be so worried that she had stopped stretching that as soon as she did so I would respond beautifully.

    Of course, once I figured this out I had a good laugh and stopped responding to the cue. She still won’t stretch on cue, but I will need to figure out a different method for capturing this one. What a brilliant trainer she is!


  8. Angela says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 11:47pm

    My husband was starting to realize the dogs were trying to shape us and said to the dogs “You can’t fool us, we’re the ones with the opposing thumbs.” I said, “that’s opposable thumbs dear.” 😉


  9. Marcella says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 11:33pm

    This post made me smile even moreso than the first one. =) Thanks for enlightening most of us and reminding us that no matter how many behaviors we may have shaped our companions to do, our companions have probably gotten a lot more out of the deal than we have!


  10. Margaret Hughes says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:06pm

    Years ago, my young Pomeranian taught me to lift the covers at night so she could crawl under…how you ask, I didn’t know for years, until…laying in bed one night, wide awake at 2am, I felt my Pom jump on my hip, walk up to my shoulder and jump off, again, she jumped on my hip, walked up to my shoulder and jumped off. She continued this pattern until I moved my arm to push her off and quick as a flash she crawled under the pushed up covers and fell asleep. I never knew how she would get under the covers every morning, until that one sleepless night when she showed me.


  11. Fiona says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:00pm

    Reading all these comments has just about been more insightful than some of Susan’s blog posts! And perfect to read over lunchtime.
    I am possibly more aware of shaping than I was before, but I’m sure my dogs still do things I don’t realise. Recently I have implemented a new thing in that the dog furtherest away from the back door gets released first, then next furtherest etc – it is amazing, some days they run to the door, then start backtracking. I have realised recently that I must always say “right then” before I do things, because “right” is an extremely exciting word that culminates in running to the back door.

    And I am very pleased after reading some stories that my 9 mth old kittens have slept outside during the night from an early stage – and the cat door has stayed locked. They are often sleeping in the lounge when I go to bed, but are so patterned that about 10pm they go to the back door. I have left them a couple of times, and they start hooning round the house in the wee hours.

    Good luck over the next few days Susan, and am really looking forward to watching some more stunning runs on this blog in the future.


  12. Lisa Runquist says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 6:43pm

    Okay, so I admit that my dogs have me trained to give them cuteness cookies – Charlie especially (Charlie will lounge around while the others are working for their cookies, knowing that sooner or later I will come over and give him his share, even tho he isn’t doing anything). And yes, I call them more than once to come in. Jazzy trained me to get up in the middle of the night to let her outside; we cured a lot of that by only letting her out on the leash. If she really needed to go, she had to go within a few minutes or we went back in the house. When she learned that I was not going to just let her out to wander around the yard, I finally started to get more sleep!
    One thing to mention is that Charlie has also trained Jazz. He will go to the door and start barking till she runs out to find the squirrel, and he will get up on the couch where she had been laying! lol.


  13. Shannon says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 6:23pm

    Examples abound of how biddable I am. The five-year-old Rat Terrier is relatively new to the household of five terriers. She is playful and extremely “chatty” and vocal. When I come home, I let the quietest dog out of the crate first. This is so difficult for her, she fairly bursts into loud chatter as soon as she’s out. The next thing I expect is for her to quietly sit by the door before she is let outside. What she would rather do is bark, jump, play, and get affection.

    So first, she ran off some steam, “talking” and leaping over furniture. I laughed. Then she sat in front of the door. Once I had that down, she grabbed a bone and ran around, talking with her mouth full of bone. I laughed more. Eventually, she sat in front of the door. Next, she raced around with the bone doing play bows and talking up a storm. I can focus really well, so understood her wish for me to leave my door post and chase her in fun. I am so well taught that now I am only randomly rewarded with her actually going outside when the door is opened.


  14. Barbara Bell says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 6:16pm

    My Miniature Schnauzers, Dakota, Sasha, and Gleason know the minute they hear the pot and lettuce container hit the counter, that something will be cut up, and they will get to play catch. Dakota will bring me toys to play tug with him, and sweet Sasha will be all lovey dovey when she wants something, like to eat, or go out for a walk. All 3 know what time they go for an afternoon walk, and what time dinner is, and start reminding us at least a half hour beforehand. My new puppy, Charlie, is trying to shape me, but I am resisting. He will learn to walk with a Gentle Leader, and not roll on the ground.


  15. Carol says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:23pm

    My dog would refuse to go outside if I was barefoot. He figured out that I was not planning on going out because I never go out barefoot. He not only got me to put shoes (or flip flops) on before opening the door, most of the time he got me out too and would bring me a ball to throw.


  16. Jen says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 4:18pm

    My spaniel has shaped my entire neighbourhood to play frisbee with him. If he sits pretty with the toy in his mouth humans can’t seem to resist him. They are even honoured when he chooses them!
    Now if I could just apply his irresistible charm to getting my driveway shovelled and yard mowed….hmmmmm….perhaps a dancing Spaniel would do the trick….


  17. Trudie says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 3:59pm

    Yes but maybe in vying for the most outrageous confession, (and turds as reinforcement IS truly original ! ) we’re hoping Susan you’ll offer a special price on “Shaping Success” — it’s your one publication I haven’t got – what goes round comes round!


  18. Sarah says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 3:55pm

    My 9 month old BC girl, Idgie, was not pleased at my laziness (after a 12 hour shift, I felt like laying around, how DARE I…) so she proceeded to drop chew bones in the bath tub, making me get up and fetch the bone out of the bath tub every time I heard the loud clanking. Took me too long to decide to CLOSE THE BATHROOM DOOR.


  19. Teri says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 3:41pm

    Donna, thanks for the poop eating beagle story. I’ve gotta try that with my poop eating sheltie! Of course, I would never pet the soft, cuddley head of that cute sheltie puppy boy every time he puts his feet up on me.

    I agree that cats take the prize when it comes to shaping us. Yes, I will get up and let the cat out when he starts knocking stuff off the dresser in the middle of the night. And yes, I will get up and let him in when he sits howling outside my bedroom window. *sigh*


  20. Janet Julian says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 2:39pm

    Our oldest sheltie is always on patrol. She likes to keep an eye on the front door so she can announce when anyone has the audacity to walk down our street. We have a family room in the basement, and she soon learned that when we wanted her there we’d call her. If she didn’t come, we’d call her again, and then if she didn’t come, we’d get out a cookie and down she’d come.

    She figured out this reward system to the point where she’d come down, get her cookie and then race to the top of the stairs again and wait to be called. If it didn’t happen, she’d bark. Just once, a single, sharp bark. Pause. If no rattle came, another bark. Then another, until you called her so she wouldn’t bother the neighbors. And of course she wouldn’t answer the call until the cookie jar rattled and she knew she’d get her cookie.

    She had her mother so well trained that she could do this for hours. Down for a cookie, back up the stairs, bark-bark, down for a cookie, back up the stairs. Over and over again like a yoyo. We closed the door, but the minute you’d open it she’d be out like a shot, back to the top of the stairs, doing her bark-bark so you’d call her and she’d get another cookie.

    We’re still working on finding new reinforcement patterns to get rid of this one.


  21. Marilyn Spitz says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 2:33pm

    My old dog, Choppy, a Shepherd mix liked to catch small things I would toss to him. He especially liked almonds found on the beach near our Carribean home. When we went to the beach he would bark untill I started looking for an almond to throw. He would then wait expectantly until I had an small arsenal and would start fireing them in his direction. He was really good at snatching even fast ones out of the air.

    Choppy was also a finicky eater. If the bowl was in the wrong location, if I wasn’t resting nearby, if anyone walked by him while he was eating, well, that was the end.

    My new dog, an 18month old Aussie, Riley, is working hard to get me right where he wants me. I am resisting, but he is an excellent trainer. He waits outside while I am calling him to come in. He runs right in if I get his squeaky ball or go open the fridge door. We are doing agility together and having big fun as long as he gets to be the one to say when we Go at the start and when he gets to be the one to pick the course. He picks some pretty cool courses.

    I can’t wait to see how he gets me to herd sheep.

    Still learning the ropes, Marilyn


  22. Theresa Litourneau says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 2:22pm

    I sincerely feel sorry for all the poor poor people who have told their sad, sad ” tails ” over the last couple days.
    I myself have NEVER had my dog shape any of MY behaviors .. she NEVER tugs on the leash unless invited…. NEVER barks or bites me’ a$$ as I am running around a course….NEVER does a playbow stall when I have asked her to do something… IN fact, MY dog has NEVER done any of the stuff I have read here the last coupla’ days…. poor poor people….
    Thanks GOD Susan is around to help everyone notice these things….
    I hope she will be rewarded for all her help with successful runs in Austria !!


  23. Julie W says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 2:00pm

    I just love these stories. It is so funny to think we are the smart ones, when our pups all have shaped us in one way or another. The story about using ones voice rings so very true in my family of pups.
    My oldest dog has learned that while riding in the car he can get my husband to roll down the window if he barks at it.
    My youngest pup has trained me to take her out early in the morning by whining. It usually gets her a game of Frisbee.
    My middle pup used to have me trained to let him outside all hours of the night/early morning by jumping off the bed to stand by the door. One night I was just too tired to let him out so I insisted he get back in bed. Well he did and I got another couple hours of sleep and learned he does not have to go out.


  24. Liza Lundell says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:33pm

    Several years ago I was hospitalized with a ruptured appendix. When I got home (a week later) my dogsitter left a note telling me how much the dogs had missed me. They refused to eat (and there were bowls and bowls of kibble all over the apartment), so she had been giving them lots and lots of treats every day. They looked like beach balls with feet (and curly tails).

    Liza Lundell and the (it was wonderful) basenjis


  25. Mary M says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:10pm

    My oldest boy (a beagle mix) knows when the snow flies his mama pulls out the treats to get him inside when she wants him too 🙂

    I am defiantly shaped by my dogs; maybe we should start a human support group for this phenomenon…..

    As I work with each of my dogs I see criteria I have let slip by with each of them, so with every new behavior I sharpen my clarity about the true criteria I want…..so not only do they shape me they teach me too  Who said dogs aren’t smart!


  26. Margaret Warren says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:12pm

    I put bells on my door handle for my just turned 1year old Yorkie to train him to let me know when he wanted to go pee, it worked, but now he rings the bell whenever he feels like going out to play, so he rings them a lot !!


  27. Trudie says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:07pm

    Cindy and Jane, everyone, LOL!
    My pyr shep had an ear infection that required me to put a dose of ointment deeply into the ear 3 times a week for a month, and while he would let the vet touch him, there was no way he would let me near it at home! Rather than return to the vet 3 times a week, I confess I resorted to subterfuge. A very understanding neighbour played the role of “vet” who I took him in the car to see on her laundry room table for his “medication”, and he was as good as gold.

    This dog will eat his bowl of delicious kibble preferably if I put (or even pretend to put) a drop of people food on it.
    He was not happy when I had to leave home for 12 days this summer.
    He stopped eating. This is already a skinny dog, by the way. My husband proudly told me how he got him to eat with steak, paté, a certain kind of moist dog food…


  28. Toni says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 11:23am

    I confess! I confess! My border collies, Sasha and Cricket, have trained me methodically to first announce that I am going to shower, whereupon there is a mad race to the shower doors as I shake my head. Then to carefully slide one door just far enough so I can reach in and turn on the water – so they don’t hurl their entire bodies into the stall. Then to slide the other side open just wide enough for their head and shoulders so they can jockey each other to snap at the water and emerge with soaky wet fur that they proceed to shake all over the bathroom. This happens every morning. And every morning I growl at them to chill out and calm down. All the while chuckling to myself about how clever they are:>)


  29. Dina says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:50am

    My oldest Havanese has trained me to hand him, and now the other two, treats every time I sit in my chair in my office. He barks until I give them treats, which of course sit on my desk in the treat jar.


  30. Laura Anne says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:34am

    Our Aussie shaped us to call her when she barks. I was working on her recall, calling and treating a lot in different situations. One day she was outside and started to go to the corner of the yard and bark at a distant dog. We called her, she came immediately, bouncing across the yard like a furry black bunny, and got a treat. We let her back out, after five minutes the barking started again. We called her, treated, etc. This happened over and over for several days and was really irritating. Then, through the kitchen window I saw her go to the corner of the yard, bark loudly, look over her shoulder at the house, bark more and look back again. BUSTED. She makes us (the slow learners of the house)laugh so much!!!


  31. Michelle Swiat says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:31am

    My dog was recently diagnosed with ITP and therefore needs to take prednisone twice a day (after each meal). I give him his pill in a piece of soft white bread after each meal and he just thinks he is getting “dessert” . So now after breakfast and dinner, he walks over to the kitchen stares up at the cabinet where the bread is. If I don’t pay attention he comes to me, nudges my hand and walks back over to the counter and stares once again at the bread cabinet. His shaping has come in handy because I would have probably forgotten his meds a few times already!


  32. Cindy says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:12am

    All 3 of my dogs have our family trained – the oldest, a shepherd/lab mix, will not eat with the other dogs. She wants to eat at her own time. She will stand in the kitchen and bark until someone puts her bowl down for her. What’s worse is that she will not eat unless one of her humans sits with her! She also rings the doorbell to be let back in the house!
    The middle dog – male Manchester, has taught my husband to immediately get out of bed and put him out for a pee, no matter what time it is, when he (the dog) scratches at the nearest door or door frame.
    The youngest- female manchester, has been shaping me as described by Susan with the tug toy in agility class. At home she tugs like crazy, but in a class it’s food or she blows you off!


  33. Jane says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:54am

    I have a JRT who has learned to hide behind a vehicle in the driveway so that I have to call him in with the “treat” call. Mostly we have conversational cues which don’t get rewarded. But when I’m desperate to get him in a hurry, I use “Beetle, come!” and that always gets a treat so that I know I have a way to get him in an emergency. So, when we return from chores outside, he hides when I go to the house door so that I am afraid he has disappeared somewhere, I call “Beetle COME”, and ta da! Out he pops from behind the car (10 feet from me) to perkily trot in for his treat.


  34. Donna says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:36am

    So, this is kinda gross, but I have to share.

    My beagle mix’s most favorite game is to be chased by me or the other dogs. However, I have not wanted to encourage this behavior as our recall isn’t that great, so I try not to play the chase game. She has quite cleverly figured out an instant and consistent way to initiate this game with me though. She discovered early on that if she picks up a turd in the yard, I instantly drop whatever it is I’m doing, let out a very fun scream, and begin to run at her at full speed! Now, the game is on and she can rip around the yard while I chase her. The amazing thing is that this cue on her part works even if I’m in the house. I will come running out the door and chase her every time.

    I’ve now tried to change this behavior by getting her to use her super beagle sniffing powers to find the random poops in the yard while I do poop patrol. If she points them out to me by sitting, she gets a cookie.


  35. Devora Locke says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:28am

    Back when I did cocker rescue, we had a puppy mill case who would get almost hysterical about being outdoors, and just ‘Had’ to run away into all that space. I spent a lot of time training her it was ok to zoom, but to come back quickly and get rewarded with treats and good stuff. After about a year of this, she was doing really well in controlling this urge, even off the long line, but every now and then would ‘test’ me by intentionally running off just to come back and get the treats! Of course, she always got them, for having so cleverly trained me!


  36. Kathy says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:16am

    I realized my 6 month old sheltie must be getting reinforced by someone for jumping up and grabbing at the laundry..while it’s being folded. Someone must have thought…oh, puppy wants to play, he jumps up and snaps at fluttering shirts, so human stops folding the laundry, gets toy and plays with me. So what happens? Super quick…puppy jumps up and snaps when everyone and anyone is folding laundry. Had a family meeting…this is behavior that we do not want, do not reward by playing with pup. I decided to try the collar grab”game”of it’s yer choice. When he jumps and snaps, we collar grab and hold for 5 -8 seconds, release and go back to folding…repeat if necessary. If he chooses to go do something else…play in his dog bed, chew on toy, reward with treat reinforcement. When we’re folding laundry, it is not play time. So far successful. But might need repeating.


  37. Ivette says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:02am

    My JRTs are amazing at shaping my behavior. I believe they all 3 work as a team. When they want to go outside for a romp, they do not just go to the back door, that would be too obvious. They start rough housing, wrestling and racing around the house together. They have learned eventually I will get up off the couch or computer and let them out because as soon as I stand up, they race to the back door and wait like good little dogs!! 😉


  38. Morgey says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:52am

    These are great stories! My 1 year old BC would initially jump on the bed in the morning when he felt it was time to get up. I quickly put a stop to that and his next tactic was to systematically shove the side of the mattress every 20 seconds or so with increasing pressure until I would eventually open my eyes. At which point he would be sitting nice and cute by the bedside! I would then get up and let him outside, and to make it worse, give him a treat when I called him in! Eventually I say to myself “Duh, no wonder he wants you to get up!” He’s now 3 and likes to sleep a bit more these days, but I still get a good laugh at that.


  39. barrie says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:42am

    This is totally embarrassing and I have never confessed it to anyone who didn’t stay in my house for some reason but here I am going to out myself completely.

    My JRT, Brit, has shaped me to always put my beloved froggie, cloth shower curtain inside the tub, to throw the bath mat over the curtain rod and to leave a dog towel on the bathroom floor.

    That is a complicated behavior chain if you think about it! To achieve this she would randomly pee on the bathmat so that in the morning I would step barefoot in it so no more bathmat on the floor. Took her a while to determine the next step, if she pees on the bare floor where I can see it and clean it up before stepping in it that’s no fun so she would pee on the edge of the shower curtain which meant I had to pull the shower curtain down and wash it way too often for my taste.

    Obviously her goal behavior was having something soft on the floor to pee on so when the shower curtain was being immediately moved to the inside of the tub after every single shower she learned to vary the placement of these teensy puddles of urine in the bathroom. I’m sure it is fun to watch me slip and try to catch myself and curse just because I’m trying to brush my teeth (shows how ingrained tooth brushing is as a behavior that I didn’t just stop brushing to solve the problem 😉

    So now Brit has a clean, soft dog towel on her bathroom floor to pee on in peace 🙁


  40. Judy says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:39am

    I was determined that my new puppy, who was willingly running out to grab the toy and returning it to me, would NOT shape me to chase her for the toy. I am now at the stage that I just sit there and watch her prance back and forth in front of me saying “nanananana…you can’t get it!” I’m trying SO hard not to succumb, but I think she is better at shaping than I am! Hoping I come up with a solution before SHE does!


  41. susan says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:38am

    I think what is worse is that my cat is in on it!!! I was trying so hard to be on top of my dog’s antics that I hadn’t noticed that my cat had become the shaping ring leader. The cat learnt that the toaster is a cue that I will end up heading for the pantry. He likes to threaten to jump up on the shelves in the pantry (he can be super speedy when he wants to be), so me being all smart and wise will grab treats for him and hey presto he doesn’t jump on the shelf. The thing is I then treat the dog for being good and not rounding up the cat. What is more embarrassing is that I only cottoned on to being trained by them when I noticed the cat had adopted a new cue in the chain which was me opening the freezer door to get the bread to put in the toaster. He bolted up from playing downstairs, I had barely put the bread in the toaster when I noticed the cat had already stationed himself at the pantry door and was sitting looking back at me, blinking and purring (he purrs loudly when he’s very proud of himself) with that suggestive look that has “hurry up then… and next you open the pantry door and we get treats” written all over his furry little whiskers… Does that constitute “who’s shaping who three”?


  42. Elizabeth says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:09am

    I just love to make my mom crazy. It is really fun to shape mom to do new things. For instance I really wanted to see how long I could stay outside after she called me in. At first it was only a few times but now she is up to 3-4 comes before she gets angry. I am not sure what *&%* means but when she says that I know it is time to give her her reward and come in. This works quite well with a sit before we play agility too. Alibi


  43. Ann says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:08am

    Ok, I didn’t really want to fess up on this one. But at Skills I had an ah-hah moment and a sneaking suspicion that my recalls weren’t as great as I thought they were. Long story short it would seem that my now 10 mos old puppy shaped me to decrease my delay time before I ran, that is, he increased his delay time to evaluate whether it was worthwhile to come, i.e. is mamma going to run. To my chagrin, I had succumbed to the L-word. Good grief. When I got home, I evaluated the situ, and I believe I caught it in time, and am working hard on building the recall account with a variety of recalls every day, several times a day, with me standing still more so than not. I’ll admit they’re not 100 percent, which is my goal: come regardless of the distaction.


  44. Melissa says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:47am

    I had a JRT who, at MY dinner time, would speed to the door like a lunatic, barking and snarling, to get the other dogs (of which there were quite a few) to believe there was something afoot (serial killer level, to be sure), and go ballistic. For quite a few times, more than I like to admit, I joined the pack in the trip to the door, expecting the mailman (at least). Upon my return to the table, the instigator would be sampling from my plate; the only dog in the room, having raced back in as soon as the melee began.


  45. Christine says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:42am

    My GSD used to bark at me just after I would get settled on the couch at night. I would ask “What do you want”, “Do you need to go out?” and he would start dancing. So I would get off the couch, go to the door and realize he had taken a turn and was standing in front of the treats on the counter. Did I give him one? You betcha. Shaking my head and laughing the whole time. He did a good job of shaping me.


  46. Jodi Altman says:
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:18am

    When I answer the phone while interacting with my pup, he humps my leg. I then take his collar and direct him into his crate. Presto. It’s like magic for him, I’m ignoring him, then I’m interacting with him, and then I laugh.


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