The rat

Shaping is an amazing tool in any dog trainers tool box.  But what exactly are you doing when you shape? The  possibilities are endless and only limited by your knowledge. Take a few classes and learn how to shape from those with experience not only shaping but teaching humans how to teach dogs using shaping.  Remember the rat is not stupid, but the student who failed to train him is.


Target stick- like giving candy to a baby………for some dogs anyway

I’m always looking for something new to teach the dogs.

A. because i’m bored

B. because they are bored

C. because the students at the school get bored

D.  because i love to spend my money ( that one isn’t true but i DO end up spending all my money on my dogs, wouldn’t have it any other way!!!!!!)

So last week i purchased a target stick from amazon.  I gotta admit its pretty fun! My dogs have a “touch” and “target” command but shaping the behavior to target the end of the stick is amusing. We worked with both Abby and Raina for about 10 minutes each. Raina has intense focus on me, we worked a lot on eye contact when she was younger and it is one of the reasons she has stellar obedience in almost any setting. This is wonderful, its the way our training relationship is and i love it but boy it makes it hard to get her to notice the target stick or even care about it! I cannot complain, i cannot get frustrated, dogs are perfect at being themselves and this is who she is!! So our 10 minute sessions  are very different with each dog. Abby will now target the purple ball on the end of the stick within a few seconds of presenting it to her at any reasonable height around her, I or objects she is familiar with. We have not moved it to enough locations to generalize the behavior nor have we put it on cue yet to take her to more distracting environments.

Raina is another story, her focus on me has lead me to  have to try alternate “attention getters” for her to find positive association with the target stick. Coating the end in peanut butter of course 🙂    For Raina we will break this down into very short training sessions with clicking as she touches her nose to the peanut butter covered ball on the end of the target stick. 3 minutes 4 times a day, as well as a few sessions with her sister Abby so she can gain some social learning (watching Abby, seeing what she does and what she gets rewarded for)

Abby and her 2nd session

Raina and her 3rd session.

Much less progress if compared to Abby but what you must remember is they are 2 totally different dogs (even though genetically they are exactly the same, 2 litters, Raina was a repeat breeding of Abby’s litter.) As a handler of multiple dogs you must always make sure you do not compare them to each other or their progress. Each dog learns differently and thats what makes training multiple dogs so much fun!