February 3, 2006, Newsletter Issue #121: Shaping Behaviors

Tip of the Week

Shaping is the process of gently modifying an action into a desired behavior. For example, in order to train a dog to hold a toy the trainer can click and treat (c/t) any nosing or mouthing of the toy. Each repetition will receive another c/t, until the dog is rapidly offering the behavior. At this point the trainer withholds c/t until the dog goes a step further and actually puts his mouth around the object. Next, the dog only earns the reward if he bites the object. Finally, the dog must pick up & holds the toy. Remember: In clicker training, a behavior is not named until the animal reliably repeats it.

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