Shaping: How to train your dog to perform difficult tasks

dog shaping

Our dogs are able to learn almost anything, you just have to have the patience to explain to them properly what to do and reward them when they do it! The shaping technique consists of teaching the dog to do difficult things, things that are almost unthinkable for a four-legged, such as opening a drawer, finding a hidden object, opening a door, and so on!

Shaping: Advanced dog training

To train a dog to do difficult things, there are two specific methods of learning. The first is based on encouragement and rewarding the dog’s initiative; while the second consists in offering the dog a model to be imitated, and rewarding him when he manages to follow suit. In order to achieve these kinds of objectives, you need to go step by step and reward your furry friend for every tiny bit progress.

First, you’ll need to teach your dog to pay attention to you. You’ll have to provide a target on which to focus the dog’s attention; once chosen, we reward the dog with a treat when he reaches for it. Wait for the dog to touch the treat with his nose or mouth, and reward him again. Finally, we will only reward our dog every time he approaches the treat.

dog training methods

As you may have guessed, this type of training does not teach a dog how to perform specific movements, but pushing our friend to get there by himself to the solution, thus obtaining his treat. This technique of shaping not is created to force the dog to do something he does not want to, but fosters the development of cognitive behavior of the dog.

You will see that with a lot of dedication and commitment, both on your part and on behalf of your dog, you will be really surprised by the intelligence and ingenuity of our four-legged friends! Of course, as always, we recommend that you do not insist too much! If despite the treat the dog seems disinterested, do not force it! Try with something else,  or go out for a walk, (which to your dog will be certainly more pleasant than learning to open a drawer!)