When Feature was a puppy I used to shape new behaviours with her all the time. One week I challenged myself to come up with a different, unrelated behaviour to shape each day for a week. That was fun. None of them were shaped to fluency before I went on the next day to a new response (actually when I think about it, some of them still remain unfinished) but it was great for the puppy and great for me as a trainer to work my timing, criteria and reinforcement. More often then not, these were the “dinner time sessions.” The ones we did in order for her to earn her meals. It dawned on my yesterday that as I get involved with each dog’s career I don’t have these sessions near as much any more. I don’t know why it took me so long to come to this conclusion as John has been telling me for months; “you know you don’t work with Feature near as much as you used to.” By that he means, I used to shape her almost daily in the house (where he could witness the fact that I trained) and now all of her training is done in the building. When he doesn’t see it happen, it must not of happened right?:). I think the transition of locations occurred when we moved into this tiny apt with shiny ceramic tile floors. The footing is too poor to ask for much from the dogs plus there is no where else to put the other dogs if I want to have an informal shaping session before dinner with one of them. Now when I want to have one of these quickie session I have to go to the building (I know poor, me at least I have a building, I am really not complaining, just making hollow excuses for my lack of effort). Yesterday I did just that. I took DeCaff, Feature and Encore out and had 2 sessions with each of them. They acted as if it was Christmas. Especially DeCaff as I rarely take her out to train at all anymore (shame on me, poor girlie, but something has to give). I think the biggest road block for people to have sessions like these is the ability to come up with things to shape their dogs to do. I must admit most of what I do shape are things I believe will benefit me somewhere as a trainer, either to help my dog with strength, flexibility or proprioception. I have been meaning for a long to put together a list of ideas to shape and put it on my website. It is on my long todo list. However in the meantime on my short list I will plan for the future to do more of what I did in the past. Pick a day. Like Monday is nail-trimming day for my dogs, Tuesday can be shaping nothing important day. It is something I would suggest you all do. Shape one new behaviour once a week. You can choose to work on that behaviour at different times throughout the week or leave it when the next Tuesday comes around you can start another new response. I will try to get that list finished. I actually started it years ago. Meanwhile start working on your own shaping session.
Today I am grateful my mac makes it easy to find documents I wrote years ago so I can dust ’em off and refresh them.