Go To Your Mat/place

Discussion in 'Training Challenges' started by JazzyandVeronica, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. JazzyandVeronica Experienced Member

    Don't know if anyone would be interested in this; but I was cleaning up my youtube account; stringing related videos together and I came across this old series of videos I did (2009) teaching Veronica to "go to her mat".

    It was my first sustained effort with free shaping (which I hate, sorry free shapers :D) and I'm sure I gave it up at some point in the process...but we did accomplish our goal which was going to the mat on cue and giving a down stay.

    Here is the video with all the shorter vids strung together. It is long and boring and in the beginning allot of nothing happens :rolleyes: ; but since I just re-did the video I thought I would share.

    If anyone wants to offer constructive criticism or things I could have done differently, or opinions on whether or not I was actually ever free shaping that would be interesting!!

    tigerlily46514 likes this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I sort of think, that sometimes, there can be a fine line between "capturing" and "freeshaping" at times, here or there, sometimes.


    I like free-shaping okay, but, it's not my favorite method, either, especially if *i* have a very specific trick i have in my mind, it's pure chance if my dog dreams up the exact, specific trick i have in my mind.:ROFLMAO:
    but for random stuff, or keeping dog busy, free shaping is fun. My dog seems to have no preference,:ROFLMAO: and is always up for figuring out new tricks, no matter what method i use.

    My dog also embellishes most tricks, (no matter WHAT method i've used to teach the trick)
    Buddy will almost always, add in one more thing, and looks right at me, to see if i click that.
    Sometimes, i do! Sometimes, i LOVE his idea,
    other times, not so much.

    but Buddy almost always, AFTER figuring out what trick I want, he always offers up some add-on or twist, to see if that gets clicked, too. I've heard of other dogs who also do this, too.


    IF IF IF you are still working on "go to your mat" (which i doubt, as i've seen your extensive trick list)
    this is how i taught "go to your mat". I'm not entirely sure which "method" of training this is, but, it's probably capturing and luring. (the go to your mat is only in first few minutes of this vid, mostly).

  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Versonica sure is too cute!!
  4. running_dog Honored Member

    I'm not sure whether it matters whether you use shaping, capturing, or luring as long as you get where you want to be in the end! I think a lot of people would struggle to teach their dog to go to mat as effectively as this in less than 15 minutes, I'm really impressed (y).

    With capturing it is often a complete behaviour that we try to get all in one go and you click something the dog was going to do anyway - like clicking Veronica when she lies down because she's bored or me clicking Zac when he sneezes.

    But isn't "free shaping" where the dog offers different behaviours? I think you are trying to free shape but Veronica doesn't actually understand the concept of offering behaviours. A dog that will free shape will try a behaviour and if not rewarded it won't just stand there it'll try something else.

    Where the confusion seems to lie (and I notice this all the time so maybe it is ME who is wrong :confused:) is that "free shaping" is often used when we mean "shaping". Shaping is kind of like capturing but the dog offers a little more each time, I think that what Veronica is doing is shaping. For example at the moment I am shaping Zac to play tug, at first I offered him a rope and when he mouthed it I clicked, then I waited for a longer mouthing of it, a stronger grip, resisting a tug from me, offering a tug from him, a longer tug, a stronger tug... I'd not call that free shaping because I am leading Zac in the direction I want him to go, it isn't capturing because it is not something he was going to do/has done anyway. Another example would be where I shape Zac to pick up new objects.

    It may be an arbitary distinction that occurs only in my mind and my dog's mind but I think of free shaping as being dog led rather than trainer led. It is always easier to start free shaping with a fresh object then you can reward the dog's first investigation of the new (or newly positioned) object though a dog adept at free shaping does not need a new object just for the object to be indicated as part of a training session. A truly freeshaping dog would have been pouncing all over the mat, skidding round the room on the mat, spinning on the mat, jumping over the mat. It knows you want it to do something with the mat because you just put it there and it is a training session so lets try anything that might earn a click! When I give Zac an object to free shape with I don't know where we are going to end up! He'll sniff it and nudge it, tip it over with his nose then tip it with his paw (then both at once), bat it, pose with it, lick it, mouth it, stick his nose in it, rest head on it, pick itup (if he can), two paws on, two paws and head on, three paws on, jump on it (if he can), sit on it if he can, lie on it if he can...

    Most trainers use a combination of methods, some tricks (and some dogs) lend themselves to one method or another, other tricks seem easiest using a combination of lots of methods. I don't think it matters but I think if your dog is free shaping you KNOW, it took ages for Zac to get there (we used 101 things to do with a box) but it was worth it, a truly "Eureka" moment in my memory and his learning!
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Rdog, that is probably the best description to help me sort out what is free shaping, and what is not! THANKS! going by your description of what a free-shaped dog does, my dog def "free-shapes" with his toys!! :ROFLMAO: alllll dayyyyyyy long, over and over and over! :ROFLMAO:

    my dog also offers those type of free shape behaviors, and watches for my reactions, keeps stopping and looking at me, for new objects which are NOT toys, if i have the clicker.
    Buddy knows alllllll about that clicker...it visibly dangles from my wrist, he knows when i have it.

    but, with his much-loved toys he does not look at me all the time, he continues playing, jumping over, poking, head-butting it, shaking it, rolling around with it, lying on his back holding it in his front paws, laying on it, chewing it, dragging it around, throwing it up in the air, getting in it, on it, even under it (which totally cracks me up)etc etc, but doesn't looks at me too often,
    instead, he is 100% engrossed in some type of play--------- he actually seems to be "pretending" something (?)at times.
    I never ever mess with or click any of his play behaviors, ever, cuz he does just fine by himself, whatever that is(?) he is doing!?
    still, he does this, every day, every single day, for years now, although he is never ever rewarded by me for it, he must just enjoy it. I enjoy watching it, so does everyone else.
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    also, Veronica was clicked/rewarded for standing on the rug, a few times,
    so V sort of seems to be sticking with that behavior, (standing on rug, and later, lying on rug) since that was the one she was rewarded for, it looks like...
    could be wrong.
  7. orpheum Well-Known Member

    You are starting too difficult for the dog in my opinion. In the first seconds you could have clicked him for looking/sniffing at the mat. I see you missing out on a lot of smaller steps during the entire proces.

    What I would have done differently (but who am I :p ):
    1. I would hold the mat in my hand for starters and already work to a paw touch. You're dog doesn't find the mat "interesting" because there's no previous link to it. You are also aiming for a goal that is too high in my opinion. You are already going for +1 paw, but he doesn't seem to know he needs to go to the mat/target.
    2. To get your dog more into the game I would throw the treats away. This gets him a bit more excited and interested. At that point you are also "resetting" his behaviour. By rewarding on the mat, you're skipping the learning process of going to the mat/target.
    3. No switching criteria !! I see you clicking for nose touch/paw touch/sitting and lying down. You try to click for one criteria and raise it after you've got 8/10 succes.
    4. No moving around the mat. You are "luring" him into position this way (cheater ;)).
    5. You're frequently trying to connect a command (where's your mat?) but that's waaaaay to early. Oh and you're giving an okay command and treating the dog. In his point of view you're training the stay/release at that moment, not the mat/target. This should be build in later in the training
    6. In the end his front paws are of the mat ... a big NO NO :LOL: I would definitly focus on the front paws, because this makes it easier to work towards other excercices later on.
    7. I find you're training sessions a bit too long. Try to play a bit more in between. I work with batches of 5 or 10 treats. And my succes ratio is a lot higher because I make smaller steps.

    I DO WANT TO SAY: Good to see you working positive with a "dangerous" breed. Don't give up on shaping. These are all beginner mistakes and you will learn a lot out of them. I made a lot of them during my initial shaping sessions. Now I find shaping easier then luring, but it takes some time to get the total idea.

    Hope you understand my interpretation of the English language ;)
    JazzyandVeronica and running_dog like this.
  8. orpheum Well-Known Member

    This was the 3d day I practiced this with Jack (3x5minutes each day with play time in between. As you can see: For staying on the mat I do not click, just a treat delivery on the mat. For returning to the mat and lying down I click and throw treat away (reset the behaviour). You can see Jack knows he needs to be on the mat.


    At 1.23 minutes you can see the result of returning to a small object with the focus on front paws on the target. This is easy so you don't have to drag along a mat while going somewhere and still being able to use a well known command.
  9. running_dog Honored Member

    LOL Tigerlily I've often thought that Buddy is a dog that enjoys actively participating in learning - which he demonstrates when he tweaks tricks and when he has new objects (and yes, I think that is free shaping). Some lazy dogs and dogs that get less fun out of playing with objects (like Zac) need a little more encouragement to make them think.

    As you say Veronica sticks with a rewarded behaviour (akin to capturing) and gradually builds on a behaviour (shaping) so I do think Veronica is beginning to have an understanding of "shaping".
  10. running_dog Honored Member

    That was almost like a catalogue of my mistakes with Zac as well (though I made a lot more than those :rolleyes:) ... so neat that you could set them out like that and explain the "whys" :cool:.
    orpheum likes this.
  11. orpheum Well-Known Member

    And I do have my definition on term use.
    Luring = building up muscle memory. You kind of shut down the brain in the beginning of the training. Like letting a calf walk behind a milk botlle.
    Capturing = Clicking for natural behaviour of your dog. Dog stretches (click) but you're already clicking for end behaviour.
    Shaping = Building up behaviour from zero in (for your dog) unnatural behaviour. One of my dogs doesn't bark often (no natural behaviour for her). For this I could use shaping, but I can't capture it.

    Like you can see in kikopup training video a combination is frequently used (mostly because it speeds up the training). As long as it's positive, it's all good. But remember, not every "treat training" method is positive. If you create frustration or stress it's not positive neither in my opinion.
  12. orpheum Well-Known Member

    @ running dog : I teach beginner classes for positive training. This has trained my eyes. If you want I can make the list of "beginners mistakes" depressingly long. I'll just use myself as an example :LOL:
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //You kind of shut down the brain in the beginning of the training//

    This is one of those remarks i hear sooooooo often, one almost starts to believe it must be "true" since we hear it sooooooooooooo often. Most things we hear over and over, we tend to believe must be "true" since it's oft repeated.
    I disagree that luring "shuts down the brain."
    If my dog wasn't thinking, when i fade the treats, or the target stick,
    then he'd stop doing the behavior.
    orpheum likes this.
  14. orpheum Well-Known Member

    But you are stopping him from thinking (in my opinion). Always a fun discussion point.

    The way I look at it, he's learning from the repetition and building up muscle memory (muscle memory being like you knowing how to text a message with your cell phone without looking at the buttons).
    After the muscles got the main idea you are fading your lure and entering more distractions from the enviroment that you "blocked" by using smelly food or pretrained behaviour like with the target stick. Initialy you're putting his focus on 1 thing being the lure. And that's what he's going for. By fading the lure you're stimulating the brain to remember what the muscles allready know.

    Once again, this is my point of view and who am I ?? :whistle:
  15. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //Once again, this is my point of view and who am I ?? :whistle://

    oh, i think you are a marvelous dog trainer!! for sure!!
    and who am i? back! :ROFLMAO: I am someone who tends to not always hold common views, lol!

    I have heard all this, that dogs muscles are somehow thinking, not his brain, etc etc, i've had this discussion about a dozen times, but, i still disagree that lured dogs "don't think".
    I disagree very much, every time i hear it. But, most all the world would agree with your point of view, Orpheum!! Yes, i think so. Your view is very commonly accepted as "true" and this notion that lured dogs don't "think" is almost never challenged or questioned.
    but
    I can SEE my dog's eyes light up when he "gets it", when he has that "lightbulb" moment, i can see him "thinking" (not his legs, his brain).
    In the same way perhaps a tennis player, although shown what to do, or "lured" to hit at that ball, is still "thinking" and "learning",( in her brain, not in her legs.)
    orpheum likes this.
  16. running_dog Honored Member

    @Orpheum - maybe "common mistakes when beginning shaping" would be an interesting though depressing new thread... I'm not sure whether it would encourage people to persevere... somehow, no matter whether I know what the common mistakes are, I still seem to have to make the common (and uncommon) mistakes for myself!

    Do you distinguish free shaping from shaping or do you see them as meaning much the same thing?
    JazzyandVeronica and orpheum like this.
  17. orpheum Well-Known Member

    @Running_dog
    I'm not a term freak actualy. Shaping/free shaping is all in the same line for me. Maybe there is a theoretical difference, but I'm not sure.
    I only use 3 main terms in my classes as described above, just to keep it simple. Dog training can be complicated enough as it is for beginners.:)
    I don't know if it would be depressing or demotivating to start this thread. I could have used it when I started and it could prevent people from making mistakes and frustrating themselves or their dog. But everyone has got his own way of working.
    I don't click and treat on the mat/target ... Kikopup does. There are many ways that lead to Rome, so it could still be confusing.

    @tigerlily46514
    With the risk of being close to getting killed :ROFLMAO: . I DO state that your dog starts to think from the moment you start fading the lure. You an your dog are experienced in 'luring techniques" and therefor he gets it faster that the muscle memory needs to be stored in the brain. My dogs follow the food and don't think at all, because I don't use this method that often.
    And I always motivate people to have an opinion on their own. It's easier to follow the group, but you often miss the chance to realy learn. We can agree to disagree ... No problemo for me ;)

    But it seems we're getting off topic a bit.
  18. running_dog Honored Member

    I don't really understand how showing luring a dog what to do encourages a dog to think?

    The thing with the tennis player example is that often what we are luring a dog to do is very simple, the lure is the explanation. So for example I lured Zac to weave round my legs, it involved no skill on his part just an explanation from me, rather like coaching a tennis player to walk across the tennis court to the right position! When I work with Zac on a complex basketball trick this involves skill on his part, though he understands what I want he can't do what I ask right away or every time because he has to learn the skill, that is the level at which the tennis player is working - it is also a level where luring is irrelevant.

    Kyra Sundance, in 101 Dog Tricks, her book of step by step luring of tricks, says something about dogs needing 100 repetitions to build up muscle memory... that is actually what is mentally associated with luring by the people who encourage luring based training. The truth is most of us use luring but not pure luring, we encourage our dogs to think along by using a little shaping and capturing mixed in with the luring.
    orpheum likes this.
  19. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    100 reps to get the trick? :eek: I'd give up, and try another way if my dog didn't get it after a few reps, or, somewhere far far less than 100 reps!
    nope, Buddy has learned some tricks in one (1)lesson, even with luring. It's unusual for him to take very long on most tricks.

    btw, i don't usually fade a lure(whether food or target stick)
    til my dog HAS got it, not usually.------ so before the lure was faded, my dog is "thinking".
    I've often said, I think my dog seems to "put on his thinking cap" at the sight of my clicker! My dog is thinking, and noticing, what is wanted. I am the one picking out the trick, no argument, this is true! But, my dog learning the trick i choose, is not proof he isn't thinking.

    I sort of wish that understanding stuff, learning stuff, and memorizing stuff, did NOT involve so much thinking sometimes!(for me, anyway:ROFLMAO: ). Most ppl taking a chemistry course feel they are indeed, thinking, even though they did not get to invent the equations or rules of chemistry. My professor "showed me" the chemistry rules, and wow, i was using my brain to understand it all, let me tell you!:ROFLMAO:

    I do also let Buddy pick out/make up tricks, as well. He's made up some neat ones, but, he'd probably never in a million years dream up getting a beer out of the fridge:ROFLMAO: ...nope, nor would he ever dream up shaking his head "no", nor crossing his paws back and forth, he'd never ever ever come with that one.



    and lol, after decades of working in E.R or ICU, i don't see having one remark, being disagreed with, as anywhere near being "killed".:rolleyes: I can disagree with a remark, and like a person. Not everyone seems capable of that, but, i am!:D We can agree to disagree! Most of everyone does repeat the words, over and over--------- "lured" dogs don't "think"
    which i still think is not "true". nope.
    and yes, it's probably getting off topic, but, if someone else pops by and wants to comment if Veronica is freeshaping or not, they sure can!!:D Nothing stopping them!

    and besides, if i can get even a few ppl to possibly just reconsider what they are saying when they all repeat that ol dusty line about "lured dogs don't think" line over
    and over
    and over,
    it was not a waste of time!;) i am not against challenging commonly accepted views at all....sometimes, i see questioning stuff, even stuff we hear over.......and over...... as a "good" thing!!
    (maybe i have a free-shaper's brain?:ROFLMAO: )
  20. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    can a person "free shape" a dog to cross paws back and forth? (repeatedly, i mean, not just one paw over the other one time)

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