It’s crucial to have a plan while shaping a dog’s behavior. The trainer needs to define the behavior he/ she want to train and formulate a plan to achieving that. A breakdown plan and progress plan are essential, especially for complex tasks.

How Shaping Works

Shaping dog behavior is a complicated task. Shaping is one of the dog training techniques that can make a dog perform complex tasks from simple learned behaviors. A shaper begins with training the dog to perform simple behaviors, then rewarding her for the completed work. When this training happens continuously, it encourages the dog to repeat for the award.

One should then change the task and withhold the reward. The dog adopts a new behavior in response to the changes. Correct shaping would involve looking for the right dog behavior and rewarding this behavior instead. It is important to continue changing the behavior and rewarding the minute variations. As one continues rewarding the tasks, the dog’s behavior assumes a shape close to the target we are trying to end up.

Shaping in Action

For instance, one may try to teach a dog a greeting gesture using his paw. One reinforces the behavior by rewarding the dog for raising his hand. As this habit continues, the dog continues to do it for the reward at hand. If one withdraws the reward, the dog can play around and devise new methods of getting the award again. If the dog lacks the old behavior, the chances are that he will lift his paw higher and offer a bigger hand for the continuity of the reward on offer.

Enhancing this procedure is possible by moving the target further and waiting for the dog to figure out the best thing to do to achieve that particular treat. The procedure must be in smaller pieces to make the behavior change gradual. As a result, shaping should be slow and gradual and should follow a very simple procedure and the task of repetitive tasks so as to direct the dog to a particular behavior change.

Shaping can be made easier by first teaching the dog to raise his paw voluntarily and then breaking learning into a series of smaller and achievable phases. Little stages make training quicker because communication is clear and the dog understands with precision what to do. Every time you move onto the next step, it becomes easy for the dog to figure out the new behavior. Big changes in levels are often too difficult for the dog to understand what the trainer wants and when to move to the next step.

Example Behaviors

  • Controlling the lights switch
  • Opening or closing the door
  • Fetching items like remote controller or car keys
  • Emptying the washing machine
  • Playing, e.g., rolling over, spinning, etc.


Shaping the dogs’ behavior works by capturing. This method is a bit complicated because it requires the owner or the person training the dog to monitor the precise movement or behavior of the dog, and time accordingly when to reward the dog for the appropriate move. Shaping is an excellent dog training procedure.

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