What Is Shaping?

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by Gordykins, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. Gordykins Experienced Member

    Hi all! I haven't been on here much since I signed up, but I've heard about training a dog through "shaping." I've googled it, so I get, from the little bit that I've read that it is reinforcing a behavior that the dog already offers? Or maybe I'm understanding it wrong!! Anyway, bottom line, I figured that I'd rather have you fine people help me figure out what it is, and if its something that might work for Gordy and I, than to page through multiple websites and trying to piece them together.

    But, I'm wondering too, as an example... Gordy knows how to shake (as in his whole body) when I say "SHAKE!!" and he is wet. When he is not wet, I can say "SHAKE!!" the same way and it doesn't have meaning to him. He does however shake throughout the day randomly. If I label it "SHAKE!!" whenever he does it, and give him a treat to reinforce that this is his shake trick... is that considered shaping? And do I still click the behavior... or will it confuse him since I'm not sure he is thinking about what he is doing when he randomly shakes throughout the day??

    :D (I attached a picture of him shaking at the dog beach just for fun!):D

    Attached Files:

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  2. DevonW Well-Known Member

    We do a lot of shaping with Thor during his sport classes. The dog learns to think about and offer behaviours because they want to please you not because you're asking them or forcing them to do it.

    This is a pretty good video that explains the basics of it.

    When I first started bringing Thor to sport class he didn't want anything to do with the wobble board. He was afraid of it because it moved and made a strange sound. Through shaping he now offers to do tricks on it (including paws in the air and spinning a circle) I never lured him or forced him to go on it. It was purely his choice. He's not afraid of it or trying new things. He's even choosing to take other agility equipment because it may be rewarded including the teeter. He's started to think of what he can do to please me and it's made trick training so much easier.

    When I taught him to open the cupboard I tied a towel to the handle and just looked at it. Within a minute he was pulling the door open. Once he realizes what I want has something to do with that towel he started offering the desired behaviour on his own. I didn't have to do anything.
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  3. SD&B Experienced Member

    To get the "Shake" behavior, you will "capture" it. That means you label an existing behavior and put it on cue. I taught Barney to sneeze on command that way.

    "Shaping" is where you approach a behavior using small steps. The dog should try to offer more and more as you go along in the process and you reward for the behaviors that are going in the right direction until you reach your goal behavior. For example, you may reward a dog for looking at the cabinet, then touching a cabinet with her nose, then pushing it a little, then pushing it a lot, and finally pushing it closed. I used shaping to teach Sundog to "pee like a boy".

    Another method is "luring". You "lure" the dog using a treat. For example, you may "lure" the dog's nose backwards to get the dog into a sit position or up and back to get the dog into a beg position. I used this to teach both Barney and Sundog to beg.

    It may take only one session or multiple sessions to teach a dog a behavior/trick using any one of these methods.
  4. sara Moderator

    SD&B has explained it very well!

    There is some contention though between the meaning of shaping and free shaping.

    This is what I understood from Karen Pryor's book "Reaching the Animal Mind"

    Shaping is reinforcing small steps, moving towards the goal behaviour, like the example SD&B gave.

    Free shaping is just waiting for the dog to offer a behaviour and start from there without a real goal in mind on your part (though it often turns into having a goal when you see a behaviour emerging that can turn into a fun trick LOL), so you are basically letting the dog decide where you are going with that. Usually this is done with an object, and it's really fun to see what your dog comes up with. In this way, Mouse learned to pray, say yes, back up and grab a toy.
  5. SD&B Experienced Member

    Yeah, Barney learned to hike (as in, hike a football or throw a toy between his hind legs with one front paw) with free shaping. I haven't put a cue on it yet, but he loves to do it. Now, I could work on putting a cue on it either with free shaping or with a capture. (He would do it again in a free shaping session, but he'll do it sometimes when he's playing with his toys.)
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  6. Gordykins Experienced Member

    Cool!! Thanks for explaining! =)
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  7. jakee57 New Member

    Shaping is often used to encouraging a child OR small dog to walk, use the toilet, feed self, improve , etc. OR to decrease behaviors such as vandalism, obscene , stealing .its compulsory for every dog owner and dog trainer
    among their dogs or any other pets...
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Good explanations above. And now I'll answer your question you asked about teaching Gordy to "shake". Yes, you can teach Gordy to "shake" by saying "shake" and click/treat every time you see him shaking. He'll finally connect those dots and say hmmm, every time I shake off, mom/dad says "shake" and I get a treat. Cool! You might find him starting to offer a "shake", to see if he gets anything for it. And if so - absolutely!! This is how I taught Makena to "bow". I captured it. She'd stretch in the morning, first thing when she got up. I knew that. I work full-time, so catching her stretching during the day (most days) would be iffy. But I knew I could capture that stretch first thing. So I did. At first, it was funny. I could see her thinking ok, this is cool, every morning I get up, stretch, and now I get treated for it. After about four mornings, she stretched, grabbed her treat, then just stood there looking at me - I knew right then that she was thinking ... ok, what is it that I'm doing, cuz something is making this happen? The very next morning, she stretched, and hesitated in the stretch (or "bow") position, and looked at me!! I gave her a huge jackpot, and said "bow", good girl!! I "named" it right then, and each morning for another week or so after that, continued to ask for her stretch each morning right as she was getting ready to stretch, and then would treat. But - I noticed that she stretched constantly, and looked at me - and I'd then say "bow", good girl, and treat, each time I caught her. I had never seen her stretch so much. :LOL: Within a week after that first time (that she had made the connection), she had it down.

    So no, you won't confuse Gordy at all. But you will make him think. :LOL: Have fun with it!!
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  9. Gordykins Experienced Member

    I guess I have captured behaviors! Gordy kind of learned to bow the same way, I would just hang out in the sofa with him and watch TV knowing that he would stretch when we got up :D I am having soo much fun learning how to do this stuff with Gordy! Thanks for all the help! ...and I want to say, too, that I think Makena is such a beautiful name!!
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