Shaping is a new concept to both myself and my little Ember. As sensitive as she is, and prone to pressure, she gets frustrated and quits at the first sign of “being wrong” – IE, if I don’t mark/reward fast enough, she just gives up – and there is no winning her back for a while.
We have begun taking classes through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. This is a school for sporting dogs, yes, but it allows us to work at home by ourselves in the comfort and safety of a known, private environment. We have been doing Focus work for the past few weeks. Now that the class is almost over, I decided to move on to try shaping again.
The first time I tried this, Ember was not ready. We worked with a box on the floor, which upset her to begin with – and then the way I approached the exercise required her to move away from me to even interact with it. I was such a terrible trainer back then – thank goodness for the dog that is so ready to forgive.
This session was incredibly planned out:
– How many treats to give out before taking a break
– Making sure the session was no longer than a minute
– Criteria for mark/treat and how to take baby steps
– Brain game between sessions to allow downtime
– Spacing out toss-away treats so that she gets to reset and breathe for a moment
The Blanket Game is just a fun game that she adores. It is treats hidden in the folds and pockets of a bundled up blanket.
So here it is, our first attempt. The end goal:
– Building a drive for Tug
– Learning an informal retrieve (“I can’t reach that”)