Tips for shaping and clicker training?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Cali Mae, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    So, I've decided that I want to try clicker training and shaping with Cali, so I did a couple sessions today. I was just wondering if you guys could tell me if what I did sounds right. I was trying to practice a "touch".

    I started out by getting her "conditioned" to the clicker by clicking, then rewarding, until the sound no longer startled her and she seemed to be at the point where she was awaiting her reward. I set out a book (probably about 8inx12in) and let Cali sniff it. Then I'd click as she put her paw on it, then reward. Eventually, she'd tap it with both paws at the same time and I'd click and reward. Then once she offered the behaviour, I added the word "touch" to it.

    Should I change anything for the next session? And what are some other things that everyone here has shaped their dog to do? :)
     
  2. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Sounds great!
    The only thing I’d add is to make sure you have a “neutral†stance for shaping. This way the dog can eventually differentiate between a shaping session where you want her to offer behaviors, and say a down stay or a place where you want her to NOT offer behaviors.
    Also make sure your neutral stance does not involve hints that you have treats or are about to give her a treat (ie: hand in the treat pouch :))

    Congratulations, sounds like she took to it well, you’ll have lots of fun!
     
  3. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Something to keep in mind when you're shaping, especially in the beginning you want to start small. For example, instead of waiting for her to get it right and touch it with her paw you could have clicked for glancing at it first, and then for sniffing it and then for touching it. You want them to have a high rate of reinforcement and you want them to try different things with things in hope of getting a click.

    So, when I started with Didgie who was a completely green dog we spent pretty much multiple sessions with her getting marked for looking at/in the direction of and sniffing an object.

    Also, remember to really try to keep your sessions short. I don't think I've ever named a behavior in the first session that I shaped it.

    And really the possibilities of what you can train your dog to do with it are as endless as your imagination is. Right now with Didgie I'm shaping her to down, go around an object in both directions, get into different sized boxes and hopefully soon I'm going to attempt some pivoting.

    With Traveler right now we're working on shaping and backchaining a retrieve to hand.
     
  4. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    Okay, thanks. :) I'll definitely have to work on the hiding the treats, as she automatically assumes I have them and instead of touching the object I set out.. she'll sit there touching my knee and yapping.

    I used her bed for part of one of the sessions (we've done three five minutes sessions spread out over the afternoon), and I took a lot of directive from Linds' video with Didgie. I'd click for small steps in the right direction. I clicked whenever she put a paw on it, and when I walked into the living room later, she was laying on it. (which she never does, she always asks to come up on the couch)

    And Linds,

    Thanks for replying! I'll definitely keep that in mind. I did bring out a smaller toy that she usually lacks interest in, and rewarded her for the slightest little interaction/step over.

    I really want to try getting her to go in a box, the question would just be finding something that she could easily and willingly jump into. :)
     
  5. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    That really depends on what your goal is.

    For example, if I want to teach a sit, I'm probably just going to wait for the dog to do the behavior; rather than clicking him for starting to sit, and progressively sit farther down. Doing that - basically shaping the sit when I could just get the behavior a lot easier by capturing it - is going to take a whole lot longer and will probably be pretty confusing to the dog.

    In capturing, even with new dogs, I do often start naming the behavior in the first session. If the dog is doing the full behavior predictibly, it's not too early to add the cue.

    In the OP's example, then, instead of really "shaping" the paw touch, she could - and did - just essentially capture it. It gets the dog doing the correct behavior a lot quicker and with less confusion.

    That said, if your goal is not necessarily to teach a particular behavior, but to give the dog practice about the concept of shaping, then yeah, clicking small approximations toward the goal would be better.
     
  6. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Which was why I said that. She didn't seem like she was talking about capturing but rather more shaping focused. I took it her questions to be more about learning to work on shaping behaviors and working on teaching her dog to start offering things and teaching yourself how to start with small steps to get something amazing.
     
  7. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    Try putting them on a table or bookshelf near where you are working.
     
  8. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Question, why?

    I mean, I really get it when fading off a lure or for a known cue etc. But for shaping I almost tend to use the bowl of treats to set them in the "Time to start trying things!" mood. That along with a few different body positions is an indicator that we will be shaping. Sometimes I put the food on a low table or sometimes it's just in between my legs but the dog always knows it's there. And I typically have a hand with treats in it.

    In general, is there a reason to hide treats from them when you're shaping something?
     
  9. Kayota

    Kayota New Member

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    I'm wondering HOW to hide the treats, especially when I'm weaning a command off of them (i.e. giving them randomly but not for every repetition). How can I hide them when she'll know where they're at as soon as I reach for them? Keep in mind since my dog is small I'm often sitting on the floor for training and especially for shaping sessions. Don't know if that affects anything but I thought it was worth mentioning.
     
  10. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    No, you don’t have to hide the treats, just have a neutral stance that does not involve your hand in the bowl or hand in the treat pouch. Reason being a lot of dogs end up watching your hand for “hints†that they’re doing the right thing instead of paying attention to what they’re doing with their body and listening for the click. Its amazing what dogs can pick up on. Just playing with treats in your hand can be a clue to some dogs.

    I put a bowl of treats out in plain view and within the dog’s reach (because I also train for food manners when shaping), and make of point of click, pause, THEN reach for the reward.

    Hope that makes sense.
     
  11. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    Nothing to add except - just go at it!!n We'd never done it before till recently, and learnt as I went along, with the odd nosy on youtube at ideas.

    We now have a whole host of new tricks :D

    My favourite being "bad dog" where she covers her eyes with her paw :p Took awhile that one (well... when I say that, I mean about 3 sessions), and involved luring at first to get her nose under her paw!

    But you can't really mess up.... so just enjoy and practice!!!
     
  12. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    Thanks to everyone for all the input!

    I think I might be a tad ridiculously proud of how fast Cali is catching on. She now associates the word "touch" with putting her paw on something, although I do have to point to what object I want her to touch. So far, she's been touching things as small as her angry birds ball to things like lotion bottles. :)

    I did have a short session on it just a few moments ago, but today I'm going to try something new.. although I'm still brainstorming an idea. I'm going to try to do at least one new trick every other day and then I'll have one session for practicing the ones she already learned. :)
     
  13. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    That's what I meant by putting them somewhere near, not that you have to "hide" them - because as Linds pointed out, as soon as you reach for one the dog knows where it is.

    It's more that I want to 1. Not give away my intentions too much, and 2. Start teaching that the treat will come, even if it's not instantaneous. Makes it much easier to mark things spontaneously when I'm not necessarily in "training mode" but they do something I want to capture - they learn to trust me that the treat is coming even if I don't have it right there.

    Also, I am not so hot at fading lures/treats, and that's easier for ME if I don't have them right on my person.
     
  14. Kayota

    Kayota New Member

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    Okay, thanks!
     
  15. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Ok, I got what you're saying now!
     

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