Shaping Help / Re-training


Well-Known Member
Question 1. I have been using the clicker with my dog (female, std. poodle) for a few weeks now and she is definitely a quick learner. I found that luring her isn't too difficult, though I can't always get her to do exactly what I want. I would like to try for her to shape her own behaviours and am not sure where to start?
I went to try "paws on" today and there wasn't much success. She looked at the little table. Click. Treat. Looked again. Click. Treat. Then she just stood there, staring at my pocket full of treats or at me with a "Well, what are we waiting for" sort of look.

Is this common when starting this kind of "do it yourself" learning with a dog and how do I coax her to try new behaviours?

Question 2. How to "re-train"? I taught her "touch" without much difficulty and she'll scoot this way and that, jump around, climb on walls and essentially do whatever to touch my hand. However, I would like to get her to stand on her hind legs, and when I try to lure her up she jumps away trying to 'touch'.
Thoughts? Maybe I should stop using my hand as the target?


Well-Known Member
1. Yes, I think it's quite common for the dogs to be a little confused when you try shaping for the first time. Mine did the same thing, but I just sat there and waited... Eventually he got the idea and now he knows right away that when I bring out any new object, he is supposed to do something with it;)
Maybe you can help your dog a little at first to get her started? Move so that the object is between the two of you, use an object that isn't usually there (where ever you are training) so she is more curios and goes to investigate it, etc.
If you want, use this box game. It's a great way to show your dog SHE needs to do something and not just wait for YOU to show her.

2. What about using her perfect "touch" to teach her this trick? Maybe you can try holding your hand just above her head, so she has to stand on her hind legs to touch it? I don't know, just a thought...


Well-Known Member
Thank IG . . I guess not having a lot of time on a lunch hour and using an end table that's always sitting there didn't really help the first shaping attempt . . .
Great link!


Honored Member
Staff member
Ditto what has already been said.
If you do try to use "touch" to teach her to stand on her hind legs, start easy. Don't start with your hand in the air shoulder height. Start just barely out of her reach so she kind of has to hop with her front end to reach it, but not completely stand. Click and reward a couple times then raise it a little higher. And a little higher. And a little higher. Baby step it. Some dogs can get it right away if you start with your arm all the way up where they have to stand on their hind legs or jump, but some don't, so just see how she reacts.

Shaping is tough for them at first, especially if you've spent a lot of time luring or something. They're used to getting some form of direction from you. Just wait her out and encourage her if need be and she'll catch on eventually.

Once she's got the hang of it you'll be amazed how easy new tricks are that involve shaping. I do a ton of shaping with Mud, and now it's hardly even training, lol. If there's a new item sitting in the floor and I have my clicker, she automatically knows she has to do something with it and will go through a repetoire of attempts to see what I want(touch it with her paw, hike it like a football, touch it with her nose, grab it with her teeth, pick it up, pick it up and bring it to me, and so on...). I don't even have to try to get her interested in the object anymore, she just knows and starts trying things, lol!

Really makes new tricks super easy. ^^ So once she's got it, do looooots of shaping. :) Good luck!