Shaping vs Capturing Behavior

In the video below, Rhye is having her fist shaping session. All I'm doing is rewarding her for climbing onto my lap. Any guess what we're shaping? That's right, pressure therapy! This is a super easy task to start shaping at a young age to help teach your dog that your lap is the place to be!

In the following video, puppy Simba is learning the same, except he is learning to give pressure while I'm in a seated position rather than on the ground. Pressure can be give laying down, sitting on the ground, or sitting in a chair/bed/bench/etc. This is why it is important to shape the behavior from multiple positions.

Also notice that with Simba, I give him an "off" command. This is similar to a release cue, in the sense that I am telling him when it is "ok" to get off my lap. It is also teaching him to stay on my lap until asked to "off".

In the next two videos, I am shaping "place" with Rhye. I am also reinforcing her "terminal marker". This is dog trainer talk for release cue. She is learning not only to that place is a rewarding location, but that she'll get even more treats for waiting for that release cue, in this case, a "click" that will later turn into a "yes!".

In this last video, you'll notice that I'm using luring instead of shaping. Luring means that I am using a reward, in this case treats, to get Rhye into the desired position. Also notice that I do not immediately reward once she gets into "down" position, I use a "click" (you'll be using "yes!") to tell her that was the correct behavior and THEN she gets the reward.

Luring can be helpful if your dog is having a hard time figuring out exactly what you want. Once you've used luring to figure it out, you can move back towards shaping-style learning to advance the behavior.

Last, I want to point out that in all of these videos, I'm not "setting aside" time during the day to train. I am finding moments in the day as they happen, and using them for training. In the majority of these videos, I was taking a break to relax and watch TV, or listen to a business meeting, and took advantage of the "down" time to train.

Sometimes, if you try to commit to training each day outside of your normal schedule, it can feel overwhelming. When you can't keep up with those schedule expectations that you've set, it can also be demotivating and lead to less and less training with your pup.

All of the above videos are little moments throughout the day. There are things going on in my house. We were in the middle of a move during some of these videos. You don't have to sit down for an hour every day to train. But 5-10 minutes here and there will go much further than 1 big session a day.

Raising a service dog is a big task, so take it easy and enjoy the process. Try not to overwork yourself, or your pup by simply working training into your daily life.

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