Last night I tried shaping Sei to go around a bucket, and it did not go well. It is a behaviour that I have always struggled to shape, and I don’t quite know why. It is on the list of the ‘very first things to shape’ when people are learning. I have shaped much trickier behaviours easily (with Perrin) but this one has always eluded me.
Sei started the session by repeatedly laying down. Not sure whether it was a ‘I don’t want to do this because it is too hot/too boring/not worth it’ or an offered behaviour. A lot of the shaping we have done recently involves downs, so the latter wouldn’t be surprising. I upped my rate of reinforcement and C/T anything that was not laying down. Any motion, and (tried, my aim isn’t great) to use strategically placed reinforcement. We did get a couple of times around the bucket, but it quickly fell apart. I also felt like he was just chasing the cookie rather than thinking about it (so I was basically luring rather than shaping). Soon Sei was not coming around the front of the bucket, but rather swinging back and forth around the back side. I switched to Perrin (a more experienced shaper who is less easily frustrated and is slower moving. ie easier and more forgiving for me!) and he ended up doing exactly the same thing. So the problem is most certainly me and how I am approaching this! I just haven’t figured out what it is yet. My sessions were also too long, the little kibbles I was using kept getting lost in the carpet, and I didn’t quit when I was getting frustrated. Bad choices all the way around!
Today was no better. I just frustrated both of us. I couldn’t make it happen with Perrin either, not even after he was confidently doing wraps in both directions in a separate exercise. I think it has to do with treat placement, my reinforcement not coming in the right spot to set them up for success for the next rep, and reinforcement coming in the wrong place so that they go around the other way.
I tentatively tried with a toy again, but wasn’t sure if I should because I wasn’t sure if I would keep my frustration from Sei if I frustrated him. It actually went pretty well! I think I can get away without shaping this to get to the behaviour we need, but I would still like to figure out what is going wrong with the shaping. I should do more free shaping with Sei one way or the other.
Today we worked on go around and vertical target. We did try shaping on the go around, it but as mentioned above, that didn’t go well. I re-set up the exercise to see what Perrin remembered, and it turned out that I was right about my suspicion that it was everything but the verbal. We worked on adding the verbal and fading the lure. He struggles more from a sit than a stand.
Perrin used to have a vertical target behaviour, but I broke it! I was using the target stick that came with the treat n train, and somewhere along the way Perrin decided that it was for retrieving rather than touching. I spent some time trying to reteach it from the beginning, but Perrin was so fixated on putting the silly thing in his mouth that we didn’t get very far (also a problem Perrin has in nosework, but he is allowed to retrieve the scent for TEAM, so we are good there). For TEAM, the vertical target can be practically anything, so I figured the easiest way forward would be to reteach the vertical target behaviour with something non-retrievable.
I used a post it note, and worked on shaping it today. He caught on so fast. I love shaping with Perrin! He is just so happy and fun.
Another couple rounds of muzzle work, and here is one of them. I took the sessions outside today to work in a different spot. Dex was not into being left out!
Just and touches and engagement for Dex. Did I ever mention how happy and adorable this dog is? He even offered what looks like the beginnings of sit pretty. Thats neat and all, but cooler is the fact that he offered anything at all! He is catching on to this stuff really fast!