Features January 2017 Issue

Shaping Your Dog's Behavior

Shaping Your Dog's Behavior

Increase the fitness of your shaping skills; get back on track with some dog training shaping practice drills.

Like many trainers who use and teach dog-friendly training, I’m a huge fan of the technique called “shaping.” In a nutshell, shaping requires clearly defining the end behavior that you want your dog to learn, and starting the training process by identifying the smallest, easiest criteria that you will mark (with a discrete signal, usually the “click!” of a clicker) and immediately reward (usually with a small, delicious food treat). The rest of the process involves systematically adding criteria – or levels of difficulty – to the behaviors your dog offers (in order to elicit your click and treat). The goal is to gradually encourage your dog to make his way toward the end behavior – your goal behavior.

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