Shaping is something that I’d heard a lot about, and I knew the general concept of what it entailed, but for some reason hadn’t ever been interested in trying or learning properly.
In retrospect, I have no idea why I felt this way, because shaping is a ton of fun!
I wasn’t sure how Betsy was going to react to suddenly being shaped, after being prompted/lured for her entire life. I was a bit worried she simply wouldn’t accept it, and shut down.
I was wrong, luckily!!
By the end of the second week, I had had tons of successful shaping sessions – here’s some of the stuff we managed to shape together:
- lick her lips
- rest her chin on her paws
- turn her head to the right
- put her two front paws on top of a target
- do a circle around a bar stool
- crawl into the (clean) fireplace and lie down
- climb on top of the coffee table
Some of these things she picked up so quickly – many in one session, and some of the trickier ones in 2 or 3. As she got more accustomed to being shaped, she became quicker at figuring a problem out.
The rules of pure shaping are: No prompts, no lures, you just sit/stand and click when the dog makes a movement that will eventually lead to them doing the “right” thing. The fact that it works, and works so well, still amazes me.
Warning: This video isn’t insanely exciting, but here’s a few of our early attempts at shaping –
One thing we still haven’t done much of is more advanced shaping – Betsy has learned some fun simple behaviours but we haven’t forayed into anything more complex. I definitely still feel like we are beginners after taking the course, but at least we both understand the basic concept of how to shape now!
If you haven’t done much/any shaping and you’re looking for a fun way to spend some time with your dog without having to leave your house, I totally recommend taking this course 🙂
(We just did it at bronze level, which is cheapest, as you don’t get any instructor feedback, but I found that it worked perfectly for our needs!)