Shaping!: Get the Behavior You Want

Shaping behavior by reinforcing small steps toward a future goal is one of the core processes of clicker training, and a vital skill for the trainer. It is often hard for trainers to make the shift from luring, prompting, or leading the animal through the desired movements, to letting the animal discover what “works” on its own, but the benefits to both trainer and animal are enormous. Shaping builds the trainer’s observational and mechanical skills, and is the foundation of teaching complex behaviors, making training fun for the animal and strengthening the relationship between animal and trainer.

We’ll review the foundations of solid shaping technique, including how to begin a shaping session, how to build behavior in increments, how and why to employ a high rate of reinforcement, and how to appropriately raise criteria. We’ll also cover open-ended/creative shaping versus goal-oriented shaping so that you can employ both intentionally and appropriately.

Trainers who have never shaped before, or have done limited shaping, or trainers who are frustrated with their shaping results will all benefit from this Session. We’ll use live shaping demonstrations with dogs from the audience to illustrate important shaping concepts and techniques.

Helix Fairweather | Joan Orr