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RA560: Shape Up - Improving and Maintaining Your and Your Dog's Shaping Skills

Instructor: Julie Flanery

Course Details

Both dog and handler’s shaping skills can deteriorate when not used regularly. In training, many of us focus on specific sports. Each sport has its own set of skills that we work to train to fluency in our dogs. As our repertoire of trained behaviors grows, our inclination to shape lessens. The more cues the dog understands, the less likely we are to maintain shaping and targeting skills. And the more likely the dog is to look to us for information and permission before performing. While this is an important aspect of competing, it can be a disadvantage to our dog's future learning of more advanced or complex skills or when we need to change or increase criteria.

This course is for dog and handler teams that already understand and have used shaping in their training. The course will offer a combination of instructor-guided exercises and free choice behavior training. We will work on exercises to fine tune your shaping skills, increase your dog’s ability to offer and build your repertoire of freestyle and other behaviors, discuss stimulus control, including how and why you might want to remove stimulus control from behaviors, the importance of reward placement, and building duration in shaped behaviors. The emphasis will be on process and mechanics to improve communication.

The goal of the course is not only to improve skills but to remind you of how exciting it is to shape something from nothing, see that spark in your dog when he "gets it" and to practice a method that strengthens teamwork and fosters reciprocal learning between dog and handler.