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Shaping - when to stop rewarding first steps

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Emily, May 16, 2018.

  1. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Sorry, probably a dumb question. 95%+ of what I've trained Ella have been done through games or luring. I'm not great at shaping and I think, because of this, Ella gets easily frustrated.

    I've been trying to get Ella to put her front paws on a platform. She's not keen on this (I think it relates to her hate of people touching her paws) and luring was a complete failure. She was actually impressive with her ability to ensure no part of her paw touched the platform!

    So, I started shaping it. After a lot of nose touching and nose bashing (a little too enthusiastically) she actually dropped (again, drop is usually a default behaviour when she doesn't know what to do next) and finally she put her front paw on the platform! Woo hoo!

    We progressed more quickly from there and we were reliably putting one paw on the platform, while standing. Then, woo hoo, two paws! Two paws for a few times then one, then nose touch again.

    So, if you're still reading...

    Now that she's starting to put two paws on, but not that consistently yet, do I stop rewarding one paw? At what point do you stop? After the first time that they show the next behaviour?
     
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  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Once I up my criteria, they remain up - unless the dog shows me that they don't understand it, in which case I lower them again. Or maybe at the start of the next session. But when you move on to two paws, you stop rewarding one unless the dog is clearly not getting it. The more shaping you do, the more proficient Ella will become at it. I find it's great for confidence building :)
     
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  3. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    With shaping, I keep rewarding until there is no other behaviour thrown and she is doing what I'm shaping her to do. If you are shaping two paws on a target, once she consistently puts one paw on, stop rewarding for that paw and reward every teeny movement of the other paw. I add in lots of excited voice along with my click and treat for the other paw moving. Are you using a clicker?

    If two paws is the final behaviour you are looking for, you can add a cue when she is consistently putting two paws on. I throw a treat away from the target and let her come back and do it again and again. But if you are moving to say, 4 paws on a target, I stop rewarding just two paws on target and start click and treat every single tiny movement of the back paws until we work to 3 paws, then eventually 4. The more shaping you do, the faster they get. I've shaped a lot of random things and the first few things took ages, now I can shape something in one session so keep at it!
     
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  4. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Thanks, that's really helpful. She's giving two paws now so I'll stop rewarding one. :)

    Ella tends to be a little OTT when it comes to shaping. Some dogs might give a small movement of one paw where as Ella tends to go 'nose touch, nose touch, drop, scratch at item... Throw entire body at item - usually taking me out in the process!' :rolleyes:
     
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  5. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Eek, this was only our second session and BANG! Light bulb moment! She's got it!

    I just love the look on her face when she realises what I'm asking for!
     
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  6. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    I love it when Charlie has those light bulb moments when he realises when I stop treating for one paw, he quickly offers a second paw. It was great when we trained 'four paws in a box'. It is great for focus on me which Charlie always needs :rolleyes: Good girl Ella :) x
     
  7. selina27

    selina27 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I know it's just priceless isn't it?
     
  8. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    If you reach a plateau it sometimes pays to change the presentation of the platform. Have you considered getting you dog to touch an even shorter platform? Once successful, then gradually build up the height of the platform to the desired height. In doing so you would be rewarding your dog for successive approximations of the desired behaviour. A positive sum experience.
     
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