Free Shaping

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by 648117, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. 648117 Honored Member

    I'm having a bit of trouble with free shaping.

    I don't think I fully understand the concept of turning a behaviour offered during free shaping into a trick.
    I'll explain...
    Today I couldn't think of any easy new tricks to teach Holly so I decided to just click/treat for anything she offered. I know free shaping normally uses a box at first but I decided to try just standing still to see what Holly would do (I had no plan, I hadn't even planned to do any free-shaping and haven't really done it before, except once I tried the box game which ended up with the box being knocked over and then chewed so I sort of gave up on free shaping :oops:).
    But Holly was great this time, first she put her paw on my foot, then her paw and chin. Then a bow with her paws and chin on my foot. Then she tried my other foot. Jumped on a nearby chair followed by a flurry of her wiping her face with her paw, some more bows and downs, bow with chin down, then down with chin on her paw (so so cute). She shuffled backwards while lying down. Lot's of vocalisations, high pitched "yip" and low "grumbling", and head flicks. Walking backwards in a straight line then a curve. She offered quite a few behaviours in quick succession (I was impressed since I normally mostly use luring to train her). I found the whole thing very enjoyable and cute :giggle: she was so so cute :X3::love::X3: and Holly seemed to enjoy it as her tail was wagging most of the time (she doesn't normally wag her tail much - i think it takes more effort than other dogs because it's so curly and she's a bit of a serious dog a lot of the time).

    Anyway, I really liked the "grumbling" and a couple of other things but I'm not sure about how I turn these into tricks, especially if she only offered the behaviour once or if the behaviour was always offered at the same time as another behaviour.

    So if anyone uses a lot of free shaping or understands how it works, could you please explain it to me?

    Thank you :)

  2. MissyBC Experienced Member

    If you liked the 'grumbling' and want to turn it into a trick...

    1. Every time she offers it, click/treat and ignore any other behaviours she offers.

    2. Only click/treat the 'grumbling', nothing else -- you may need to be very patient to get her to grumble again.

    3. Once she offers it readily add a cue... maybe "grouchy?" If she grumbles, click & jackpot.

    Does free shaping make more sense to you now?

    I hope this helps!!
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  3. sara Moderator

    It's so much fun isn't it? I do that alot, just to see what my dogs come up with. But as soon as I click for something I like and want to expand on, i will then only click for offered behaviours that approximate the one I want, raising criteria as the dog consistently offers the one I want.

    incidently, that's how Oliver learned to say Momma and to click his teeth together silently, and to act vicious :) free shaping is awesome!
    Dogster, Mutt, 648117 and 1 other person like this.
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    Free shaping can be used to create behaviors using really small steps. So you can free shape your dog to go walk around an object, bow, shake his head no, etc because you can identify what that first step is.

    However, grumbling isn't something you can create if you just splice the pieces down small enough. It's kind've either an all or nothing behavior :) What you can do is capture it. Since she offers it at times already that may be an easy task. But usually with capturing behaviors, you don't just sit with clicker in hand and stare at the dog as that will get them very frustrated. Capturing is usually done with you sitting on the couch ignoring the dog as the dog just goes about its day until he happens to do the one thing you want. In some situations you can set up the environment so the dog is more likely to do your captured behavior. An example might be locking your dog and yourself in the bathroom with a doggy bed on the floor if your dog rarely lies down unless on a soft surface and you wanted to capture "Downs."
  5. 648117 Honored Member

    Yeah, it was amazing all the behaviours she tried. I think last time I tried (with the box) she might have been too young or something. Although I was slightly concerned that she wouldn't offer anything since I mostly use luring normally.

    How many sessions does it usually take for Oliver to consistently offer the behaviour so that you can label it? and then to be able to say the cue in another non-free-shaping context and have him understand?

    I've had two sessions with Holly and both have ended up with me just clicking the "grumbling" which is the behaviour that I want at the moment.
  6. 648117 Honored Member

    She is offering the "grumbing" during the free shaping sessions. No doubt because she was frustrated the first time, but the second session she offered it faster (although she did try some other stuff first) and she is wagging her tail so I don't think she's too stressed.
    The only other time that she makes a noise similar to this is in between barking at people walking past our house. But it isn't the same noise exactly. The free-shaping one is more grumbly and has a higher pitch and her mouth is relaxed, if it continues without a click it turns into a sigh, whereas the people walking past one is more growly with her mouth puckered and the noise is extended with fewer changes in pitch until she barks.
    I hadn't planned to teach her to "grumble" but she offered it so we are going with it. She is offering some other behaviours in the free-shaping sessions that I will turn into a trick but I'm just doing the "grumbling" at the moment.
  7. sara Moderator

    Well, it depends, but usually, I only need one or 2 sessions to have the behaviour on cue. He ALWAYS remembers a trick he thought up himself :) Mouse as well. She's brilliant at repeating something that was only clicked once. Mouse has to be trained using shaping and free shaping. She cannot think when being lured... food is an obsession for her :)

    Here's a video with a free shaping session at the end. this was a completely new behaviour, and he remembered it 2 years later with no more sessions on it... ever.

    The free shaping starts at 4.36
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  8. Mutt Experienced Member

    I think Sara and Fickla have given some great tips!
    (Free) shaping is also something I want to do more. Especially with Boef as for some reason she always starts to offer behavior we have been working on in another session (and haven't finished or stopped with) even if it was for only once, when she is at loss what I want from her. Smart doggy :D
    Dogster likes this.
  9. Golden River of Dreams Well-Known Member

    I love to play the do something different game. The problem I have with free shaping with an object is that my dog gets bored and starts looking for other objects around the room that he can do things with. So we might start out with him concentrating on a dog bowl in the middle of the room when he suddenly decides that turning the TV on and off is much more exciting. I have to use a lot of reinforcement and very small steps to keep him on the same object.

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