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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Training Tuesday: Shaping a Nose Touch with Shyla

Last Tuesday, I showed you how I used a clicker and treats to "shape" R to touch an object with his nose. R is not very experienced with shaping so he took little tiny steps toward the final goal.

In contrast, Shyla and I have done so many shaping games together that she tends to make big leaps of logic along the way to the final goal. She surprises me time and time again.

In this example, I taped a pink note card to the A-frame beam. My end goal was for her to hold her nose on it for 2-3 seconds. In spite of her experience, I still started by clicking her for looking just vaguely in the direction of the pink note card. However, you'll see that she very rapidly noticed that something new, the pink note card, was in the direction that she'd looked. She instantly figured out that I probably wanted her to do something associated with the note card. That's a leap of logic that only an experienced dog would make so fast.

 The video of this shaping is below and also at Youtube.

She had learned this simple behavior within 2 minutes. However, I was careless early in the process and didn't selectively click when she put her nose in the middle of the pink card (as opposed to on the edges). Because she knows that these games usually require precision, she kept trying different nose positions later in the training to figure out which one was correct. I should've made it clear from the start.

Of course, this behavior isn't important in everyday life but I've used shaping to teach my dogs all sorts of useful behaviors. I love teaching them things that help me take better photos of them.  I've used a clicker to teach Shyla to pivot a little bit to the left or right for a photo when she has her paws propped on a rock. That lets me fine tune her position for the photo! It's fun!

I used that skill in this photo!
I'm hoping to make "Training Tuesday" a regular feature on this blog. I do fun training with the Duo regularly but I rarely talk about it here. I hope to change that.

What's your favorite thing you've ever taught your pet to do?


  1. Ya done good beautiful Shyla, you are such a sweetie!

  2. i am sad to say i have never taught any of my dogs anything at all, but if i ever get another one i will do better. Shyla is so smart. using the shaping to learn things like this helps them to be more obedient in other things. shows you are in control... i love that and watching her

  3. OMCs Shyla bravo bravo standing ovation. What a wonderful interactive game with you mom. We are impressed.
    Mom says the mess up on my blog post yesterday was her fault she thinks. She prepares my most several days in advance. When she prepare yesterday's she hit publish ...w/o putting a date in and it immediately posted. She put it back in draft and gave it yesterday's date but she thinks that messed up Blogger's mind
    Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh getting good help is hard. mol
    Hugs madi and mom

    1. It was really no problem. I just wanted you to know in case you got fewer visitors than usual! It is hard to get good help these days ;)

  4. What a happy tail as she learns! You two are such a team!

    Right now Obi and I are working on matching pairs. I hold up X, and he goes to find the other X. Then I hold up Y, and he goes to find the other Y. Three days in, he's starting to get the hang of it. We're using shoes, socks, flower pots, Kongs, etc. A fun variant on nosework, though we're not focusing on just the scent of the object yet.

    Habi, who is slowing mentally, is learning to go away from me to her cup, and pick it up. Not sure we'll get to bringing it to me, but it's fun to shape her 13 year old brain. Mental exercise is so important for old dogs!

    I'm also dealing with a severe case of laryngitis (week 2 so far). Thank goodness for dogs who know hand signals (and a husband willing to decipher my charades!).

    Chris from Boise

    1. I want to try that! (matching pairs!). It sounds cool. Are you videoing it? It would be fun for others to see (like me)! I agree about older dogs. That's why I keep playing these games with R... to keep his brain moving. It's easy to get complacent with an older dog but that hurts them.

      I hope that your laryngitis gets better soon. Oh my - that's a long time to go without being able to speak! Hand signals are your friend.

    2. I'll see what I can do on posting a video. That'll be a technological stretch for this Luddite. (I'm always impressed by those you post, captioned and all!)

  5. Such wagnificent work on both on your of your parts.

  6. Wonderful work! I once saw a video of a trainer quickly teaching a dog to flip a light switch on and off with this method; she started with the pink sticky on he palm, and when the dog had learned to nose it wherever she moved her hand, she put it on the wall, and then on the light switch :)

  7. She is obviously a canine genius! Beauty and brains!

  8. A very fast learner, and to decide if the edge or the center was best. Well done Shyla.

  9. We just LOVE watching you and your mom train, Shyla. You are such a smart girl!
    Teaching Mitch to play dead was our most favorite trick to teach and he loved to perform♥

  10. That Shyla is just so smart!!! We love seeing your training work - hoping to learn from it and put it into action:)

  11. You are doing a fantastic job wwith her. Shyla is one clever dog

  12. We always work on weird training stuff for photos, but no clicker. We all learn pretty fast as well since we are used to the way Mom teaches us stuff. Shyla makes an excellent model.

  13. Love seeing your training videos!! The clicker can be such a valuable training tool!
    Hazel & Mabel

  14. I love to read and learn more about training! I never thought about ways I could use shaping to help with photos. Luke and I just might work on that!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets


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