I have to say, we aren’t making near the progress that some in the class are making. At times it is a little frustrating, but then suddenly he will have a huge breakthrough & my hope is restored. And it’s hard to know who in the class is doing this for the first time like we are. Some have taken it with other dogs and so have worked ahead. Some are able to devote much more time. And some aren’t doing it by shaping (I can’t know for sure, but Silvia seems to be able to pick up on it).
Why is shaping these things so much better than luring? Well, first of all, shaping is kind of fun :) I think it gives you an insight into just how your dog’s mind works. You learn how they learn. I’m learning Stout’s frustration level, and how to avoid it. I’m learning that it’s all the small details that eventually lead to the big outcome.
For example: I called John into the room last night to see Stout’s “reverse.” We had finally had a breakthrough. As John came in, I had Stout backing up all over the room, going in circles, running into things… Kind of like a little bumper car stuck in reverse. He would just keep backing up until I finally clicked. He was impressed.
“How did you even teach him that?” Well, I explained that I clicked for him moving one foot backwards. “And he did this?” Well, no. I then clicked for 2 feet going back. “So then he started doing this?” No, then he sat down. But as he sat down, he would move 1 more foot backwards. Then his 2 front feet backwards. Finally he’d have to move his butt backwards in order to have room to move his front feet backwards. The day before I had him scooting around the room backwards in a sit.
Video submitted of Stout backing up.
You can see we are just starting to break out of the butt scooting...
So can Porter back up? Nope. And I’ve been trying to teach him just as I have Stout. I think he will in time, but it will take longer. As I said before, Porter doesn’t have the history of shaping. He has mostly been lured. Porter hasn’t learned how to “think” like that yet.
By luring, you are speeding up the process. But actually going slowly & letting the dog think & learn how to think first is the fastest way to the ultimate goal. Luring is bribing, which gives them the power – they decide if what you have is worth the effort. Shaping gives them a completely different attitude towards work. They are asking us what they can do for the reward. It’s a subtle power shift.
Stout is paw targeting a wooden spoon.
This is a precursor to learning to "cross his paws" & other tricks.
I'm not sure he'll ever cross his paws with those stubby little legs...