Idea List for Shaping

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Okay, to follow up on the shaping post, here is my, not-yet-completed list of things to shape. When I get it finished, I will post in on my website. If you would, please look over the list, alert me to any duplications you see and write up your own suggestions. They don’t need to be “tricks” but rather responses you can shape. Some with props, some without. Certainly there are some behaviours unique to certain dogs. It may be easier to teach one do to speak quietly than another. Some of the behaviours I have taught to one of my dogs I likely wouldn’t consider for another (for example I don’t know if I would trust Buzz to hold a lite cigarette the way I did Stoni (he may decide he liked it too much but knowing him he would move on and get with Micheal Phelps for some real action:))).  Seriously there are physical strengths and weaknesses that makes one response more suitable for one dog over another. I wouldn’t teach a hand stand to a dog that wants to pull on their front end in agility but I would get them walking upright (provided they were strong enough for it). You also must consider the age, and physical attributes of your dog and perhaps consult a PT before you undertake them. Mostly they should be fun for both of you.

List of Ideas to Shape

  1. Shake a Paw 
  2. ItsYerChoice (cookies on your paws, face etc)                    

    Stoni performing "hold" and "Pals" - -  Shelby being a good sport!

    Stoni performing "hold" and "Pals" - - Shelby being a good sport!

  3. Wave
  4. Bow
  5. Cross Paws in Down
  6. Walk while crossing paws
  7. Chase tail one way then the other
  8. Show me Your Belly
  9. Stretch while on your back
  10. Speak
  11. Speak quietly
  12. Talk (different than barking)
  13. Crawl
  14. Back up
  15. Jump Into My Arms
  16. Limping on front leg
  17. Don’t Peak (cover your eyes)
  18. Dig
  19. Roll Over (one way) Tumble (the other)
  20. Play Dead 
  21. Moonwalk (back up while laying down)
  22. Pop Backwards vs walk backwards
  23. Jump Up & Down on the spot
  24. Walk on Front Paws
  25. Hold (any item)                    

    Twister praying.

    Twister praying.

  26. Stretch
  27. Get Your Tail (wrap from legs around mine)
  28. Take my Leg
  29. Where’s Your Big Butt (lay down and put your butt in the air)
  30. Target yourself with your nose
  31. Meow (lick Lips & growl)
  32. Dead Dog  
  33. Pray 
  34. Lick your lips
  35. Wipe your face
  36. cover your eyes
  37. In the chair
  38. Lift your rear leg on a person/chair etc
  39. Wrap yourself in a blanket
  40. Turn on/off lights
  41. “no” turn head in disagreement (do you agree?)
  42. sit up pretty
  43. Stand tall
  44. transition from sit pretty to tallpict2774
  45. Transition from tall to sit pretty
  46. Cover nose with both paws
  47. yawn
  48. open door / pull latch
  49. pick up and carry 
  50. growl/ show teeth
  51. lick your nose
  52. go under chair
  53. back flip
  54. circle around something
  55. High Five/10
  56. target with rear paw                         Feature doing puppy Yoga; “downward facing dog”
  57. Pals-put your arm around another dog                    
  58. Stand on two paws (on same side)
  59. Go to target & sit or down
  60. retrieve Kleenex
  61. Go-see–visit someone           
  62. Walk upright on hind legs         

    Feature sits pretty

    Feature sits pretty

  63. circle right, circle left
  64. Put toys away 
  65. Put stuff in the trash
  66. Discriminate items on scent
  67. Discriminate items on sight
  68. Lay flat out on your side
  69. Target your butt with your nose
  70. Pivot on front legs
  71. Pivot on rear legs (turn on haunches)
  72. Show your teeth/smile
  73. In a box then shrink it down—all paws in a tiny tupperware container
  74. Stand with your front paws on my shoes
  75. Walk with your front paws on my shoes
  76. Walk up the walk with rear legs 
  77. Puppy yoga (downward facing dog)
  78. Jump into arms
  79. Jump through my arms
  80. Jump and spin off of me
  81. Jump onto my back
  82.  weaving backwards between legs                   

    Encore playing ItsYerChoice

    Encore playing ItsYerChoice

  83.  Puppy Pretzel (roll your head as far between your front legs as possible)
  84. Bear Skin run – lay flat on with legs behind you and head on the ground
  85.  Praying on the bedside or chair
  86. Kill the toy (shake it violently)
  87. Clean the floor (allow me to drag you)
  88.  Balance on a physio disc
  89. Sitting pretty lifting one front paw then the other
  90. Give kisses
  91. Hand Target
  92. Give kisses to another dog
  93. Climb a ladder
  94. Ride a skate board
  95. Be pulled by another dog
  96. Stand with your 4 paws on my 2 legs (while I am sitting on the floor with my legs out in front)
  97. Rest your head flat on the floor
  98. Front paws up on the wall (like you are going to be frisked by a policeman)
  99. Hide your head under the couch
  100. Go to your bed,matt or other targeted location


Today I am grateful for the unique behaviours each of my dogs have learned over the years.


  1. Thanks Susan for everything your share daily with us. I just love your blog that is a great source of inspiration and reflexion. As today is a very sunny day our session of weave training (i’m at day 5 and it’s working great) is sure to be fun !


  2. What a great list! Some of these I have never thought about, I will have to try them out and see how they go. Just a quick note – #15 and #78 are duplications (jumping into arms).

    • Thanks Katie, that is the sort of feedback I am looking for!

  3. I love your blog…you are a great trainer and a wonderfull inspiration for me. I will love to translate and paste in my blog this list of shaping (if you agree to) to share with other spanish speaker trainers….
    Thank you very much for everything you share in this blog…
    Besos desde España

    • Sure Virigina you may translate this list into Spanish but please reference this blog (www.susangarrett.wordpress.com) as your source. Susan

  4. Thank you so much for the shaping list! (I love lists – easier for me to sort thru than when the are part of a sentence). I believe you refer to many of these for Body Awareness as well? What about that Puppy Grid comment? What is that? (still wondering)

    Thanks so much for your blog – it is really a wonderful bonus to be able to ‘chat’ and learn from you in this fashion.

    BTW – did you ever see my video of my Kitty 2×2 weaves? (via email) 🙂

  5. Thanks for the list…I love shaping(and lists)…I’m putting a copy in my training log now…your blog is always interesting and useful. THANKS

  6. Susan, thank you so much for the list! I look forward to your blog daily. There are some things in your list I will have to train my boy. BTW, not sure if you listed sneezing but I am currently working on that one.

  7. Cool list. I’ll have to try these. I’ve even done some of these with my eight year old Aussie. Keep up the great work. Love your blog.

  8. It would be cool to see some videos of you training your dogs to do some of these tricks.

  9. Great list! There’s a few tricks I haven’t thought my little red girlie yet.

    For some additional tricks…
    My girl also knows how to bring me her front paws, lift her back paws with her mouth, put bricks in a small tower, dig herself under the bed covers, scratch her back on the rug, put her rear paw on her nose (while lying down, working on standing version) and slalom a football between traffic cones with her nose.

  10. Love the list!!

    Another trick: Sneeze on command. I wiggle my pointer finger at my dogs for the command.

  11. Fantastic list. I found it fun to see several on the list I have done and ones I never even thought of.
    I have a few I have shaped I think of as variations to some on your list but I don’t think they are on the list.
    One is to target the wall or something specific with your nose from 15 ft away.
    One of the others I taught my dog was to point – lift front leg and point it out to the side – my cue for this is “which way did he go?” (way)
    I love all the ones where you have the dog touch different parts of their body – I taught my dog to put his nose under his front armpit when laying down.
    I don’t think I saw any crawling – either forward or back ward.
    Thanks again for the great list – now i am going to be having more fun with my pups.

  12. Thanks for posting this list.

    One quick question, should #84 be “rug” instead of “run?”

    • What Nora, you have never seen the old Bear Skin Run trick (or is that bare skin run hmmmm). Yes it should be rug, thanks.

  13. is #17 dont peek, and #36 cover eyes the same?

    #20 is play dead, #32 is Dead dog, and #68 flat on side….aren’t they the same?

    And I need a picture of #76. I dont get it!

    Love the list! It’s nice to have something to reference. Maybe you could have a contest where we submit pictures or video of each trick for people to see some of them!

    a few others Ii thought of…
    Retrieving a hot dog.
    Closing a door.
    Flipping a pillow over.


  14. Thanks for all the great ideas. I think 20 and 32 are duplicates, as are 17 and 36.

    My favorite cue for dead dog (not original) is “How’s my breath?”

    • My favourite for “dead dog” has always been “would you rather be married or a dead dog?”

  15. My other favorite to shape is “Say AH”. Of course, this becomes helpful when she goes to see the veterinarian or as a demo for fun!
    Thanks for the list. You are right we sometimes forget about just the simple things that can be shaped into great, fun things to show off and to make us laugh.
    See you in a couple of weeks at Tweeners Camp!

  16. Great list and i am liking the blog too, glad I found it

    Kids really like ‘what you saying’ where dog targets nose in your ear – like he is whispering to you

    Curtsy – bow with front paws crossed

    Wish I could figure out how to do most of these – we are not great at free shaping yet – thought I had a hind leg stompy dance – but it was just an itchy belly and he didnt remember it next time 😦

  17. I love snob–dog looks away from you. And blowing bubbles in water.

    Your list is wonderful–it should give us some new ideas while the weather is still wintery!

  18. GREAT List!
    additional trick, not sure if I saw “throw your toy” – dog throws a ball or toy about five feet in the air.

  19. Another tip I don’t think I found in the list: “There’s something on your nose!”
    Here is my blog post with a video of it:

  20. It would be awesome to see a video of your guys back flips. I found a jack doing a true back flip but can’t find a border doing one- one back cartwheels, not true flips.

  21. How about lifting a rear leg/foot to touch something? A friends’ dog does this and it’s pretty funny – people think he’s about to pee! He will lift either rear leg and touch his paw to the nearest vertical object – a post, human leg, wall…..

  22. I have some of the items on the list on slighly different cues. I have Maeve do imitations of some dog friends.

    If I say “Be Buzz” she barks.

    If I say “Be Twister” she grabs my leg.

    If I say “Be Stoni” she stands in a beatiful pose. When people ask what she is doing, I says she’s “being perfect”.

    • aaaah, I particularly like the Stoni one, I bet miss Maeve is good at that one!

  23. As everyone else has said, great list. I’ve often gone out on the web looking for lists of tricks and end up yawning because it’s the same old stuff.

    This list has lots of new things that we are going to have fun working on.

    One idea (either ask your web guy or email me and I can explain), you should make this a “page”. That way, it will show up in your sidebar (Under the “Stuff about Susan” link) and be set aside from your regular posts.

    I have a feeling lots of people are going to be referencing this list and coming back to it for inspiration. This would make it really easy to find.

  24. I didn’t see: wave bye-bye

  25. Thanks for the list, we all love lists (so easy to tick them and move on apparently, I think I need a revolving list so I keep coming back to more foundations)

    My puppy has been struggling with confidence on the seesaw so I have been working on shaping with things that are less stable.
    I have just been shaping putting all 4 feet on a Dynaso ball, this is quite hard when the flat side is up. A bit easier when the flat side is down. Also been working with all 4 feet on a 55cm fit ball that is supported in a base so that it doesn’t roll. He managed this once in the 2nd session, but found it hard, so we will have to work for some duration. And we have also had a go at balancing an unsupported peanut shaped fitball as it moves in one plane.

  26. a video would be great, I definatly want to see the backflip and the standing on front legs. I’v never seen a dog do a backflip for anything but a toy/ frisbee. and the standing on the front legs! not many dogs can do a proper handstand!


  27. New (I hope) idea: “spazz” – it’s really “shake”, but not to be confused with the cue word when the dog offers his paw. This trick is to have the dog shake his whole body like dogs do when they get wet and want to dry off.

    I have no clue how one would shape this. But I knew someone who used the cue word after a bath just before her dogs were about to shake. Once the dogs knew the cue, she found it a helpful command for several situations.

  28. There is only one tiny little thing. Apologies to John Pinette but number 41 should be “I say Nay Nay” !

    If “weaving frontwards between legs” counts the same as weaving backwards, and “howl with me”, then we only have about 86 more things to do to catch up ….

    About number 73, that tiny tupperware container (aren’t you glad you agreed to go to that party about 11 years ago !)… I can see your point about rear legs awareness… My doggie will get into a box, but when the container gets very tiny he puts 2 front legs in and gives me a look that says, confidently, “I’m IN “…

  29. P.S. I love the photo of “show your teeth/smile” What’s the cue ?
    Maybe “Howl With Me” isn’t truly shaped, because the cue is the behavior? In any case, it’s best saved for special occasions, like when no other members of the household are present.

  30. Sorry, what I meant was, “how did you shape the smile ?”, assuming the cue you gave it later is “show your teeth/smile”.

  31. Learning your dog to give you a hug, is really popular in our family! 🙂

  32. Love the tug stuff.

    Got any ideas for a non-retrieving 5-yr.-old Golden? Will chase and p.u. but drop before reaching person. Was heavily reinforced as pup for dropping stuff.

  33. yesterday was my first “blog” experience. I realized that my positive self talk has dwindled. I am now inspired to “be grateful” on a daily basis like you Susan.
    I am also inspired to get off my rear and start training more effectively my own dogs.
    My volunteerism at the local dog club is no excuse!

    Thank you for continued inspiration.
    Today I am grateful I found this blog.

  34. This one’s dedicated to you Susan. Your videos and music are my inspiration. I’ve got my self a new video camera and here’s my first video on utube.

  35. I have some new ones (to me):

    “pancake” – as in lie flat like a pancake, not just down on your belly. I taught this one to my Great Dane while he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. It was something we could do without stressing out his leg. It can be used to get a dog to lie flat while getting an x-ray. Also helpful for getting dog’s teeth cleaned.

    “Go on top of where I pat my hand” – new studies show that humans innately try to engage dogs in play or get them to come by patting the ground or say the top of the couch to get the dog to jump up. Meanwhile, this is not body language that dogs understand. So, what great fun to teach your dog to understand that human body language.

    “kisses” – my dog loves to lick here and there, but never when I want. He will lick my face all the time except when I point to my cheek and say “kisses”. He loves almond oil and licks it off of everything. But even if I put it on my cheek, he will not lick it off. So, I think teaching that “kisses” means to lick (which can be helpful when you want your dog to lick something–say a breakable container with food/liquid in it, but not bite it/break it) would be helpful and an interesting shaping exercise.

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