need a bit of help shaping

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by lexio2, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. lexio2 New Member

    Ok, maybe it's because my dogs, being rescues, are still building confidence (Heck, I'm still trying to get Shiner to NOT jump back 3 feet when i click the clicker...but that's a whole different story) or maybe it's because we have taught them to just be calm in the house, i don't know, but none of my dogs want to take part in behavior shaping exercises.

    So... any idea on how to initiate exploration needed to shape a behavior? Qwill would rather sit or down for 30 minutes staring at me not moving a muscle... and how fun is that? :dogdry:

  2. Jean Cote Administrator

    Start with something extremely easy. Like holding a pen and clicking every time he comes and investigate. Then only reinforce him for touching it with his nose.

    You can do this will all sorts of objects to get him to like shaping and to get him to try behaviors on his own. I started using a target. Cut out a four inches round target from an old tupperware or margarine lid and use this as a target. Click anytime your dog hits it with his nose, and then you can put the target on the floor or anywhere around the house. :)

    Just little games like this will get him to open up and start doing stuff with you. Even sitting on your computer, you can click & treat him for putting his head on your lap. Of course he won't automatically do this, but if you shape it, then you can click & treat anytime he looks at you, then I'm sure if you hold a treat in your hand he's going to want to do something. So wait for him to stand up and click & treat. Increase the criterias until the dog is next to you and puts his head on your lap. :)
  3. dat123 Experienced Member

    Don't be discouraged. Shaping is an art the person has to learn as well.
    If you have a mental checklist of what is needed before you start, it will help to getting it rolling smoothly.... quiet enviroment ? , is the dog relaxed ? , start very simple, keep it very short ., etc, etc.
    Check Jeans notes in the classroom area, it pays to go back and make sure your doing it right.
    Don't sell your dogs short, being rescues. My first experience with shaping was with my 6yo rescue ( throw in the deep end by my instructor ), made to learn the weave poles in agility by SHAPING ! I was embarrassed, frustrated, silly dog just starred at me. After a while she started to do things...what a buzz !!
    A side-effect of shaping is self-confidence in the dog, something most rescues need.

    Be patient , seek advice, read, don't give up, the rewards are worth it.
  4. lexio2 New Member

    Oh, i'm not selling them short. They're both border collies, they HAVE to have brains in there somewhere. I've had Qwill 6 months and training JUST clicked in his brain the other day. I've had Shiner a month so he get lots of love treats and attention all the time. They just prefer to sit and stare at me rather than do anything else to get a treat! I guess i worked to much on watch me. lol. I'll try a target... they'll be good at looking at it at least! :)
  5. Jean Cote Administrator

    Actually my border collie was slow to shape at first too! I lured her for so many behaviors that she was expecting lures to be successful. I started with targets and stuff, and once she figured out that her behavior determined the clicks, she was all over shaping.

    So I can guarantee you that once your dogs figure out the game - they'll love it. :)
  6. lexio2 New Member

    so i made a target stick out of a piece of dowel rod and a cat toy. Pretty ghetto looking, but they all seemed to catch on that once you touch the end you get a treat. Qwill would still rather sit and wait for me to hand him the treat, but he's getting it (afterall we just had two very short sessions with each). However, if it involved him moving far he was just like "forget it". lol. Shiner was afraid of it at first, so i just clicked whenever he looked at it. Daisy was my star pupal! She would jump up to get it and even tried to chase her tail and roll over to get treats at first. huh, maybe she's NOT as dumb as she looks!
  7. yoyopoodle Well-Known Member

    Sounds like the targeting method is already working :)

    I'd also suggest moving around, as that will be incompatible with your dogs staying and keeping an eye on you - walk around a corner, hold a blanket in between you, or put a towel on their head (if it isn't too scary)... they'll need to do something to 'find' you.
  8. Jean Cote Administrator

    My favorite: Go to a park, let the dog wander around, then hide behind a tree. Peek at your dog looking for you as if his life depended on it.

    LOL, I did that a lot with my border collie when she would get too carried away. :)
  9. yoyopoodle Well-Known Member

    Haha that worked perfectly for my previous dog, but Charlie has an independent streak and I was shocked to see how aloof and indifferent he was when I disappeared - it's as if he were thinking "She'll be back in a minute when she realizes how much she misses me!", and he'd go right on sniffing the ground and looking for critters to play with :D
  10. achieve1dream Experienced Member


    Oh I love that idea. I need to try hiding from Storm to see what she does. She probably won't even notice. When she is outside she has only one thing on her brain. Move! She loves exploring.
  11. sarhaspups New Member


    You can play the 'hide and seek' game in the house first so she is successful finding you. Give her yummy treats or her favorite toy when she finds you, with lots of praise and excitement, she'll love it!! :dognowink: Then take the game outdoors. I play that game in the house all the time and they love it but I haven't done it outside. I should try it. :dogbiggrin:
    Have fun!!

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