Posts Tagged ‘shaping’


Bob Bailey Gives a Shout Out

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well I asked Bob to check out the blog and he wrote this amazing reply back in the comments section. I couldn’t waste it in the comments section, for fear some of you would not see it so I got his permission to use it as today’s blog.  He wrote this when there was only two questions for him, which is fine, my goals wasn’t for him to answer questions on my blog but to give him topic to address in a new project. Okay this from Bob:

Methinks Susan may be prone to exaggeration about me. I was a lucky person who happened to be at the right place at the right time. However, let me respond to Sue and Melanie’s questions. Two factors here- how good is the trainer and how good is the dog. I have a little saying; “training the animal is the easy part.”

If I am training people, which is most of the time, then I want the student to “stretch” their skills. I believe one of the best tests of a trainer’s skill is pure shaping of a behavior. Even the most skilled of trainers should shape at least one behavior in an animal (or a person) in a month. The final “exam” in my beginning level chicken training is shaping the chicken to peck at something that had already been thoroughly extinguished. The student could not lure, remove objects, hide objects, or do anything other than reinforce behavior.

Now I’m ready to make Susan Garrett’s teeth clench. When actually training, I seldom began by shaping behavior; waste of time! When I wanted behavior I targeted, lured, modified the environment, essentially anything to get the behavior going. BUT, and this is important, I never did any more prompting than necessary to get the behavior. I never lured if I could target. I never targeted if I could modify the environment. I never modified the environment if the animal simply offered the behavior, or something close to it. If I used a prompt, I got rid of the prompt ASAP. If I could start the animal working with one prompt, that’s all I used. If I was still prompting responses the same way 10 reinforcements later I would go the wall and bang my head very hard three times! If you are going to prompt, then do it properly. Prompting responses should be as planned and practiced as shaping. If you don’t prompt correctly it will slow down training, not improve it.

I am, and my company was, very much into production training. High quality, reliable behavior obtained in the least time and effort was very much the name of the game. We “over-trained” animals so they would work for others (usually strangers) nearly as well as for us. We got the behavior ASAP and at the lowest cost- our economic lives depended on that.

SO! If you are already a skilled trainer and your dog is experienced and you are in a hurry, GET THE BEHAVIOR! Use whatever tools necessary to get the job done. If you are testing or expanding your skills, or the capabilities of your dog, shape, shape, shape. Shape properly. Plan! Practice your timing. Video your training. Change your behavior quickly and as necessary (same as with prompting).

So, how did I train? I usually let the animal tell me what behaviors it had. I then (prompted)(shaped) as needed to get the behavior as quickly as possible. To change an animal’s behavior quickly you should change your behavior ASAP. Doing more of the wrong thing does not make it right.

About repressed animals, I suggest high rates of reinforcement for anything (non-destructive) the animal does. Don’t always feed in the same place, which will get the animal moving around. Don’t try to shape (A) behavior at first. I believe it might be best not to lock a behaviorally repressed animal into giving a limited range of behavior. Later, when the animal is more receptive to change and giving new behavior, you can begin shaping new behaviors.

Hope this helps

Bob Bailey

BTW Bob didn’t make my teeth clench, as his hierarchy of prompts are none too different from what I would use. The only major difference is that I will likely get what I am after with targeting or  environmental manipulation alone, but I am not afraid to move on if I don’t!  I have a reputation that I do not allow luring and it is a well deserved rep, because I don’t allow it:). It is not because I don’t see there may be an occasional use for it in dog training, it is just that I have found IF I allow it at all, it never goes away. People don’t need my help to learn how to use a lure, they need it to teach dogs to be willing to offer responses. If I don’t allow students to lure ever, they become brilliant with the great skill of learning to shape behaviours.  As I have said a hundred times (when people say to me “but Bob Bailey says just get the behaviour!”) “if you need a lure to prompt the easy responses from your dog, why the heck do you think your dog will start to offer you the more complex ones.”  In other words, if you get used to luring, and your session always starts with luring then you are not going to have an opportunity to work through the hierarchy of prompts that Bob has suggested (a golden list btw people), as your dog will always just stand around waiting for you to start the show!

This morning as Bob undergoes open heart surgery, I am grateful for the growing mass of people frequenting this blog, that I can call upon to keep Bob in your prayers and positive visual imagery today.


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.


Back to the future

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When Feature was a puppy I used to shape new behaviours with her all the time. One week I challenged myself to come up with a different, unrelated behaviour to shape each day for a week.  That was fun. None of them were shaped to fluency before I went on the next day to a new response (actually when I think about it, some of them still remain unfinished) but it was great for the puppy and great for me as a trainer to work my timing, criteria and reinforcement. More often then not, these were the “dinner time sessions.”  The ones we did in order for her to earn her meals. It dawned on my yesterday that as I get involved with each dog’s career I don’t have these sessions near as much any more. I don’t know why it took me so long to come to this conclusion as John has been telling me for months; “you know you don’t work with Feature near as much as you used to.” By that he means, I used to shape her almost daily in the house (where he could witness the fact that I trained) and now all of her training is done in the building. When he doesn’t see it happen, it must not of happened right?:). I think the transition of locations occurred when we moved into this tiny apt with shiny ceramic tile floors. The footing is too poor to ask for much from the dogs plus there is no where else to put the other dogs if I want to have an informal shaping session before dinner with one of them. Now when I want to have one of these quickie session I have to go to the building (I know poor, me at least I have a building, I am really not complaining, just making hollow excuses for  my lack of effort). Yesterday I did just that.  I took DeCaff, Feature and Encore out and had 2 sessions with each of them. They acted as if it was Christmas. Especially DeCaff as I rarely take her out to train at all anymore (shame on me, poor girlie, but something has to give).   I think the biggest road block for people to have sessions like these is the ability to come up with things to shape their dogs to do. I must admit most of what I do shape are things I believe will benefit me somewhere as a trainer, either to help my dog with strength, flexibility or proprioception. I have been meaning for a long to put together a list of ideas to shape and put it on my website. It is on my long todo list. However in the meantime on my short list I will plan for the future to do more of what I did in the past.  Pick a day. Like Monday is nail-trimming day for my dogs, Tuesday can be shaping nothing important day. It is something I would suggest you all do. Shape one new behaviour once a week. You can choose to work on that behaviour at different times throughout the week or leave it when the next Tuesday comes around you can start another new response. I will try to get that list finished. I actually started it years ago. Meanwhile start working on your own shaping session.

Today I am grateful my mac makes it easy to find documents I wrote years ago so I can dust ’em off and refresh them.