'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Joys of Shaping.

A certain somebody was a very good puppy today.

K came round again today - I had a new tactic planned. We took both dogs out straight away (Lola had growled once when she came in, that was it) and gave them an hour or so's walk. Lola was put in her crate--and was quiet and didn't go the toilet--for the forty minutes that we were up town when we got back. Amazing!

New tactic: shaping.

Weapon: microwaved chunks of hotdog.

Two sessions, each about fifteen-twenty minutes long, covering probably a couple hundred reps per session (with no more than five or six seconds between marks and rewards). For both sessions, me and K were sat on the floor, with Lola nearby.

First session, Lola was hesitant to approach (what is this new game? what are we doing?), so she got a lot of click/treats for looking at K. By the end of the first session, she'd progressed to hesitantly and lightly targeting K's hands with her nose. Her tail was at about half mast, ears forward except for if K moved - then they quickly and briefly went back.

Second session, we lowered the criteria because we were starting afresh, and by the end of that session Lola was confidently targeting K's hands, which were moving (fingers wiggling and hands gently waving) at a mid level speed. Her tail was curved up, and her ears set forward for the most part.

After that, about two hours later, when me and K went on the computer to try to book cinema tickets, Lola was snuggled up with me - and she moved over, looked at K, and then licked her hands a couple of times. Very cute.

She growled softly again at K when we were preparing to leave (she did last time too - I don't know if she's got a chain of growling when we're going, because she didn't growl at her when we were all getting ready to go to the park), but then when I had to pause for a moment to clean up after her, after I'd done so she was pulling at the leash to try and catch up with K. She only stopped pulling when we'd caught up, and walked between us to the train station.

This basically sums up why I love shaping. At no point did I force Lola to do anything. I didn't give any corrections for any behaviour while she was interacting with K - I just reinforced what I wanted. Lola knows the shaping game well when it comes to things she's scared of, and I don't know why it's taken me so long to think of doing it when my friend comes round. By the end of the sessions, she'd gone from slightly cautious to confident and happy: turning more into the dog I know when it's just us.

Shaping gives her the power, and having power (to interact with K and earn food, or not to do so) gives her confidence. Training is awesome.


Sara said...

WOnderful! And how great that you have a friend willing to participate.

I think somany people don't realize how luring can turn into a bribe so quickly, and that really is ineffective/detrimental for scaredy dogs.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Fantastic! Glad you had such a success with shaping today! Lola rocks! And you're right - training is awesome! :)