Shaping Fun

Posted on 02/12/10 17 Comments

Hey some excellent ideas rolling in to try and shape. I don’t know about shaping the Shar Pei to snore doing her waking hours thought. There could be some physiological stasis that needs to be present before she is even able to snore. I don’t know really but I guess it couldn’t hurt to give it a go (other than disrupting your poor dog every time she tries to catch 40 winks!).

Shaping can take on many shapes and contortions.

I love the dog dishes upside down or not behaviour. A great discrimination exercise. Discriminations are wonderful brain work for your dog.

Keep you ideas coming and video links as well. Be careful with Zoe that you aren’t just shaping a nose touch or a head bob with her back feet on the wall.

This is so much fun lets carry it on until next Friday. I am teaching most of next week so we can wrap it up and see what you can produce in a full week of shaping!

Today I am grateful for those of you that have taken the time to write about your shaping experiments with your dogs.


  1. Natalia says:
    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:00pm

    If Iยดm on time, here my answer: targeting with food ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Karissa says:
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 10:27am

    I taught my six month old Border Collie to blow bubbles last week. :o)


  3. Susan S. says:
    Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 11:07am

    I am relatively new to shaping–although we (my 1.5 year-old English Shepherd and I) have done some beginning agility, herding & obedience. I had him doing “touch” at a few months old and that has been a help in starting agility, and we have a “bow” that I shaped pretty well, but nothing else that I can think of–although, probably that’s how I got him to sit and lie down? I thought I’d try this morning getting him to learn “pick up”. So I started by tossing a cloth napkin on the floor and clicking every time he nosed it. This happened very quickly and he will nose it/push it easily. But, I’m thinking I’ve already made him bored with this. After about a minute or so he started offering me other behaviors, such as bowing, sitting, lying down. Did I go on too long with the first session? I think the next step would be if he nibbles/puts his mouth on the napkin–and I’d click for that? Is that right? (Or maybe I haven’t thought this through enough?) Thanks for any suggestions–I learn so much from the site!


  4. Naomi den Hartog says:
    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:55pm

    No fancy trick here- we had 2 sessions in closing a drawer. We now have a push on a very specific spot (right under the handle).

    Before we got to our first criteria (lookin at drawer)- we had some great other behaviours come by- such as backing up into the drawer and closing it with his bum, handstand (currently in proces- never before trained in another location). I was pleasantly surprised- ha… I can see some more creative options ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. Kat L says:
    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 9:15am

    Years ago I inadvertently shaped a head shake and a sneeze at the same time … my dog looks like she is having an epileptic seizer. This was a big lesson on not clicking too fast. It just took once and I can’t seperate the behaviors, sigh

    I have gotten better and my youngster will lick his lips on the word ‘Yum’ as well as other creative quirky behaviors. :o)


  6. Deb D says:
    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 7:59am

    Shaping Max to “bring me my (exercise) ball”. It’s still a work in progress because although he is happy to roll it he hasn’t got the steering down pat yet – fun though.


  7. Kathryn Johns says:
    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 3:30am

    Four more sessions with my JRT pup, Buzz, and we’re on our way. In my previous post I explained how I inadvertently got a funny ‘turn to lick your bum’ thing from Buzz when aiming for a head turn. Thinking about how to get rid of this unwanted for now behaviour I realised I was also suffering from 2nd dog syndrome – do I get more points for linking 2 blog posts in one of mine?

    Last September I lost my best mate and training buddy, a JRT/dachshund called Smudge, who absolutely loved the shaping game. He seemed to pick up on what I was only thinking and had great fun learning to skateboard, dunk rolled up socks in his little basket ball hoop and tons of other fun tricks. I know that with him I could have lost the unwanted tail of a behaviour by clicking really early and this is what I tried first with the new pup, Buzz, but that was a mistake. Buzz is just learning how shaping works so I had to rethink.

    I decided to go back to observing him and start clicking a completely new action for a while. I got 3 bum swipes followed by barking when he got no clicks – end of session! Good pup for remembering what he’d been doing the day before / Bad pup for barking in frustration. Next session I got some quick clicks in for movement while he was with me by the fridge getting his treats – that seemed to make him forget about the bum swipe and I went on to get a decent sit and lift a paw. Next session I continued with the paw lift adding some duration – we got to about 3 secs. 4th session over the weekend and I decided it was time to go back to the head turns I’d wanted in the first place. Of course he first offered me the paw lift but when I didn’t click the first one of those he tried lying down – good pup to understand no click means try something else. Next back came the bum swipe – again no click, this time instead of barking in frustration when I didn’t click him he sat quietly and looked at me. Then I was lucky – a noise in the other room made him turn his head to look that way, I clicked and we were off. I quickly got 5 more head turns and called it a day. Lots of lessons learned – mostly by me to appreciate this great little guy and to realise he will learn all the tricks of shaping in time.


  8. Susan says:
    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 12:32am

    I started shaping a big mouth lick……started by giving Luna a lick of peanut butter and waiting for the big full mouth lick, click and another lick of peanut butter, then wait for the last lick and click and peanut butter again…easy to do short training sessions…I use a “go toob”(1.25 oz size) for the peanut butter so I can keep it in my pocket…we are well on the way ….next I want to shape “open mouth”.


  9. mtrebino says:
    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 5:13pm

    I worked on bow which did not take long since she does that every time she gets I want to put that into a moonwalk..she backs up .so I just have to get that first step back while she is still bowing..Margie and the Twist


  10. Kellie says:
    Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 1:49pm

    I have been working on Wipe you face – while it doesn’t seem such a big deal to move – Giants and Scotties have big beards which they tend to love to let just soak – after just one session where I started with a nose touch and towel was on my arm I have gotten some really great wipes (esp with my younger giant) Still need to work on pairing that with the big drink but it’s been fun.


  11. Trudie says:
    Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 6:04am

    O my dog! I just love reading what everyone has been doing and grateful for the videos too – Rounder, Vizsla, Skeeter, Chase… Just brilliant !


  12. DogNerd says:
    Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 4:33am

    Success! After two days of shaping, we’ve achieved a “get me a drink” trick!


  13. Mary F says:
    Friday, February 12, 2010 at 11:14pm

    I started this week on capturing a natural behaviour that my girl aussie Avis does when she is taking a break during our ball retrieving sessions. She does a natural head tuck and roll on the grass when we take a break. After seeing the old movies of Jay Sisler & his talented Aussies doing sommersaults I decided to work on shaping her natural behavior into a sommersault.
    I simply waited for her to do her head tuck and clicked the minute her head hit the ground. She of course leapt up immediately with a surprised look and waited for her cookie. At first she didn’t want to take her eyes off me as she wasn’t sure what she had done that was so great she got clicked – but then she went back to her routine of head tuck and roll on the grass and I was able to click her again.
    Well she is a smart girl so it didn’t take much longer before she was offering the behavior to get clicked & treated! Now we are working on fine tuning it to shape it into more of a full head down & roll for a full sommersault.
    I love it when a natural behavior can be enhanced into something more – lots of fun & brain work for the dogs!


  14. Mary says:
    Friday, February 12, 2010 at 9:54pm

    My 2 year old, 4 lb. toy poodle wears a sweater to keep warm in this rainy, cold weather. To make things easier on myself (at your request, Susan), I used shaping to teach her how to get into her own sweater…instead of me having to put it over her head and lift each paw into each sleeve. I did it by holding the neck hole open and began to slip it over her head about 3 times. Then, I held it open and waited for her to put her own head through..which she happily did fairly quickly. I did the same with “poodle paw” (tapped her right front paw) and she put it through. I said “other paw” for the left front paw & she put it through the other sleeve. I faded the “tap” after 3 times, and then faded the verbals. Now, I hold the neck open, she sticks her head through it, lifts and shoves her right front foot and left front foot through the appropriate holes very quickly. I proofed it by mixing up the verbals (poodle paw & other paw) and she lifts the correct one & shoves it through the appropriate hole 100% of the time. After she puts on her sweater we ALWAYS go somewhere. She knows that, so she keeps up her brilliant work so she gets to go with me!!


  15. Marge Rogers says:
    Friday, February 12, 2010 at 3:41pm

    Dog free-shaped to identify different shapes.

    I didn’t shape this recently. This is one of my most ambitious shaping projects. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t shape it. Shaping has opened up a whole new level of communication for us. By showing me what they are capable of, and how their different personalities impact their learning style, my dogs have become my teachers. They are wonderful guides on our journey together. ๐Ÿ™‚

    In this video, I started with 3 symbols. I free shaped a different behavior for each symbol. I shaped the behaviors concurrently, but each in a different room of the house until Rounder consistently offered the desired behavior for each shape. Then, I presented 2 shapes in one session and then finally 3.
    As I mention in the description of the video, he went through a stage when he’d offer all 3 behaviors until I clicked. He had a definate, observable, light bulb moment. He looked at me with what I anthropomorphize as his “oh – you want me to do that!” face and from then on, he had it. I felt honored and priviledged to be able to see and be part of that. ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. Norma Nelson and Brogan says:
    Friday, February 12, 2010 at 1:13pm

    Well day one of my shaping exercise is complete. Man I forgot the “power” of the clicker. I chose to use the clicker to shape Brogan to “chase his tail”. Wheaten tails remind me of curling rock handles (if you are Canadian you will know what I mean) so I have decided to change the behaviour to “chasing my butt”. Trying to find a place to work in a small house is a challenge especially when Brogan is giving me all his learned behaviours in a row. Whatever is around him he wants to sit on, go under or stand in! I am so glad when we tried it in the bathroom that the toilet lid was down.
    Session #1 took no time for him to start turning towards his back end. Brogan is like a pretzil and often is bent in half chewing his tail. Men! But oh how he will default to learned behaviours very quickly when he is unsure.
    Session #2 was better. Went to the basement and once I got him to stop jumping on the movable dehumidifer we got a good 7-10 reps turning to his butt and spinning around.
    Session #3 we worked outside and got an amazing 8-10 good butt spins.
    Session #4 I upped the criteria to 2 spins to the butt in a row. I waited him out and got 2-10. He is vey happy to keep trying.
    Session #5 he was beside himself. I guess it didn’t help that we worked before his evening meal. He offered me everything he knows. I finially had to stop as I started to laugh and decided to try later.
    Session #6 he started offering me 2 spins without any other behaviours! He is still hesitating between spins but I am being patient and when he gives me 2 in a row I jackpot him. I got 6-10 good ones.
    So this was our first day and we had a wonderful time together. Thanks Susan for suggesting to do some fun shaping especially on these cold Canadian winter days! we will continue to work on this… norma and Brogan


  17. Chelsey says:
    Friday, February 12, 2010 at 11:55am

    Thanks for the tip!

    With Zoe, originally I was rewarding her for keeping her head low, seemed to coincide with her offering the most upright position, rather than looking up at me, but she did turn it into a head bobbing nose touching thing (something else she’s been historically rewarded for, dogs are so smart). That’s why videos are fantastic ๐Ÿ™‚


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