"All-Positive Monday" 12: Objects The Shaping Way | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, June 6, 2011

"All-Positive Monday" 12: Objects The Shaping Way

As planned, Wally and I worked on the four objects again (circle, square, bone, and ball) but with a new approach. This time, I just let him pick an object to touch, and when he did, I would click and treat him.

After he got going and understood what he was getting rewarded for, I started saying the name of the object, just as he touched it. So if he went to the ball, I'd say "pelota" just as his nose was about to touch it, and when he did touch it, he got the reward.

Hopefully, this will build up the attraction to the objects. I am also hoping he can make the connection easier with this approach. He's hearing the name just as he interacts with the object. Perhaps this let's him make a very direct connection between the two.

Also, going with the shaping approach takes me more out of the picture. This limits the potential for any pointing and touching I might do becoming part of the cue he keys on (though I have an idea for how to use that since he does seem attracted to what I touch). The shaping approach might get it to be just the object and his action on the object, which is what I'm shooting for.

Another benefit I'm hoping to achieve is the removal of frustration or confusion. With this approach, he's always right, and he is learning the name just the same. It is similar to the difference between:

1. "Where's the ball?" And then I tell him if he found the ball or not, which can then lead to try to remember what it's called and getting anxious/frustrated because he's having a hard time.

and

2. Wally going, "What's this called?" and I tell him what's it's called (ex. "hueso" or "cuadrado") and rewarding him for "asking" and touching the object.

Keeping Wally in mindset #2 keeps him upbeat and interested. Keeping him upbeat and interested keeps him in drive and engaged in the process. This also goes along with what he knows about shaping, the way I've approached teaching for the large majority of what he's learned.

The only downside is he can more likely get fixated on one object. While there's nothing, per se, wrong with this - especially at this stage - I do want him to interact with all the objects. So if he gets too fixated on an object, I temporarily remove it, and this gets him going to the other objects.

Today was a big success, and it could be a new way to approach the situation.