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Old 03-24-2012, 12:03 PM
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Default Freeshaping advice

So Beau and I are really having a hard time clicking for some reason when it comes to training. I'm LOVING having a goofy-butt dog around. It's a nice change from Mia and Summer who in everything want to do the best. I also love how he burrows under the covers and acts like a goob. AND the best part is that Mia now has a dog around that loves to rough house and play as much as she does. Summer will rarely play and Mia and Beau are playing almost nonstop. It's great.

But I am having trouble starting Beau with shaping. Now, today he was pretty eager in our training session but it's taking a long long time to get him to really 'get' it. I don't ever remember having so much trouble with the other two.

So he knows sit, down, and high five. His training classes my mom took him to were traditional type trainers. I'm trying freeshaping which I am sure is some abstract concept for him. I am getting him to leave the food hand alone (he was LOCKED ON to the food all the time) and to give me eye contact. My next thought was to try to free shape him into interacting with an object. Nothing in particular, just try to shape a behavior. It's been three sessions of this and I don't think we're getting anywhere at all. He just sits there and looks at me lol.

What do you think would be the best step to try to introduce him to shaping type training?
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:15 PM
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My 12 year old lab mix had (has honestly as I havent worked on it much) a really hard time switching to free shaping. He was compulsion trained as a young pup/dog and the clicker was totally new for him.

For us, in the beginning I did a lot more luring to really help him start to be excited about getting the click. Then, with freeshaping I made it super easy at first, would point at the object, hold it in front of him, what have you. Dont know if thats the "right" way to do it, but for him it was. He is very very soft and shuts down really quick.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:36 PM
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I start with really, really easy behaviors to help transition them over. Hand touches, putting paws on a target, getting in a box or on a mat. Behaviors where the dog uses their body to go to interact with an object seem to help them make the connection versus just a random movement they might not even realize they are doing.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:45 PM
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I think I am just spoiled. Summer came to me already knowing some 'for fun' agility (her breeder would take her to nursing homes and have her put on a trick show for them) so I'm assuming at 4 she already had the training concept. Mia was easy because she naturally moves and does things so often that there's not much waiting around for her and she picked it up very fast. Both of them know if I set them up next to an object that they're supposed to do something with that object.

Beau at the moment just sits there. I put an object on the ground and was really just looking to try to build a consistent behavior of putting his nose to it or pawing it. He'd look at it every now and then and I'd click but he really seems to have no idea that he's supposed to be doing anything other than sitting there. Sometimes he'll go from sit to lie down and back but that's it. I guess I just need patience until that lightbulb happens.

I wonder if I should lure something out of his 'high five' behavior or if that would be counter-productive? Maybe just stick with shaping...
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post

Beau at the moment just sits there. I put an object on the ground and was really just looking to try to build a consistent behavior of putting his nose to it or pawing it. He'd look at it every now and then and I'd click but he really seems to have no idea that he's supposed to be doing anything other than sitting there. Sometimes he'll go from sit to lie down and back but that's it. I guess I just need patience until that lightbulb happens.
Sometimes moving around will help, a lot of traditionally trained dogs get "stuck". So if you walk around and he moves around with you and then position your body where he is likely to hit the target might help out. Keep at it because he will eventually have a lightbulb moment where he realizes his actions are causing the click. Obviously wean away from the need for handler movement when ready.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
Beau at the moment just sits there. I put an object on the ground and was really just looking to try to build a consistent behavior of putting his nose to it or pawing it. He'd look at it every now and then and I'd click but he really seems to have no idea that he's supposed to be doing anything other than sitting there. Sometimes he'll go from sit to lie down and back but that's it.
That's Riley... I'm trying to shape a behavior of him going out and around a cone but he'll just sit/lay next to it and look at me. It's really hard to not fall back into luring him around the cone... sigh. Ya think it's something about boy dogs?
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:33 PM
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Be opportunistic with your shaping times. Wait for a time when he's more active and playful, like when you first get home, etc.

What about trying to engage his opposition reflex? Hold his collar, rev him up and release him to your object.

I know talking is a no-no during shaping, but sometimes a happy, excited voice can help build interest in the exercise.

If you find he's getting stuck, I would end the session early, as opposed to letting him sit there staring at you (probably bored) for minutes at a time. Especially to start keep sessions ultra short, like 1-2 repetitions then put the object away. Perhaps presenting the object from behind your back to capitalize on the orienting response will help too.

Start each session with a few tricks he knows already to lay out a history of reinforcement prior to shaping. It's a great way to lighten the mood and add some enthusiasm into the dog's initial responses -- as opposed to waiting out experimentation with the object that may never come. If it never comes, you never have the opportunity to reinforce, putting you in an early reward-deficit.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:00 PM
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Instead of focusing on shaping specific behaviors, start working on clicking any action. And I mean any...with older, more traditionally trained dogs it means watching for head turns, foot movements, wagging tail, anything! This will help him start to understand that his movements are earning him reinforcement. Also keep the rate of reinforcement very, very high and the sessions very, very short.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:08 PM
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Sometimes you can also just click the dog for doing anything different - if he goes from a sit to a down you can click that. Back to a sit? Click that. Lifts a paw? Click! You are rewarding the dog for acting on his own, basically.

I wouldn't go back to luring 100% but I will fully admit that when I am shaping I will place the reward in such a way that will lead the dog to success. So if I want the dog to move towards a target, I click for a step towards the target, then present my reward towards the target. Usually not placing it ON the target but in the path. So maybe keeping that in mind and just playing with it you'll be able to come up with something! I agree with Sekah about very short, "up" sessions too. Set a timer if you need to. Just keep it very fun and non-stressful for you and Beau!
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:38 PM
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Thanks guys! I didn't really think of just clicking for any movement at all, that's a great idea! He is getting more animated and excited about training sessions. I've been trying to rev him up a bit and be more animated than usual and it is helping.

At any rate its very eye opening to see the difference between a dog like Mia who was clicker training from the get-go and then a dog like Beau who was trained traditionally.

I'm really anxious to get him going but I didn't realize there would be this much of a time period where we would have to bridge the gap so to speak.
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