Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Based on a personal favourite quote from Mary Hunter founder of Portl Behavior Explorer
Firstly what is shaping, well shaping is the process by which you can gradually teach your dog a new action or behaviour by rewarding them during each step of the process while learning that behaviour of choice. In this way, you can break up a potentially complicated action into smaller parts that your dog will learn and understand more quickly.
Shaping should only be done in short repetitions, training a dog for too long with shaping can.be exhausting for them mentally and training should not be for more than a few minutes a session.
Through repetition you will be successful in shaping and by doing this in short bursts this will be more manageable and easier for the Dog to learn.
Shaping is a brilliant teaching tool and you may find you shape several behaviours to reach the finished behaviour.
So we are watching our dogs very closely for them offering behaviours that will lead to the reward as we shape the desired behaviour, but we also need to consider that this goes two ways! Why?! Because our dogs are also watching our behaviour and shaping us at the same time, have we ever considered it is a two way road?
They are watching for when we reward whether that be a click or a marker word and they shape us to get a response, human gives food if I do this so I will do it more!
So the next time we are shaping a behaviour think how our dogs are also shaping us as trainers they teach us what works best and how fast we need to reward to shape effectively.
Rushing behaviours will only set us up for failure and more importantly the dog. Take it slow. Enjoy the training and watch your Dog become more eager to train.
Shaping teaches us to be far better handlers, we can adapt the way in which we teach and become stronger and more vigilante handlers resulting in far better teaching to our Dogs 🐾