The Difference Between Shaping vs Free Shaping

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Postby maberi » April 1st, 2009, 2:25 pm

When someone refers to shaping a behavior vs free shaping the behavior, are they just speaking about luring or targeting a dog to do something vs waiting for the dog to do it on their own and capturing the behavior?
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Postby mnp13 » April 1st, 2009, 2:28 pm

as far as I understand - shaping is "getting a dog to do something" and free shaping is "capturing" it when the dog does it on its own.
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Postby maberi » April 1st, 2009, 2:30 pm

Hmm, ok

So what would the benefits be of free shaping a behavior vs shaping it?
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Postby Hundilein » April 1st, 2009, 2:47 pm

mnp13 wrote:as far as I understand - shaping is "getting a dog to do something" and free shaping is "capturing" it when the dog does it on its own.
.

When I "free shape", I am rewarding steps along the way to the end behavior, but am not luring or "helping" the dog in any way other than clicking and treating. When I just "shape", I may use things (lures, targets, body language, etc.) to get the dog to do what I want.
ETA: Short explanation on the difference I think of about "capturing" vs. "free-shaping" - "capturing" is waiting for the dog to do the end behavior on his own, "free-shaping" is waiting for the dog to do something on the way to the end behavior on his own.

maberi wrote:Hmm, ok

So what would the benefits be of free shaping a behavior vs shaping it?


I have a theory is that behavior that is "free-shaped" is more likely to occur spontaneously later than behavior that is lured. Almost like if it has to occur to the dog to do it on his own in the first place, it's more likely that he'll think to do it on his own again later. I don't know if that makes any sense, or if there is any scientific basis to that, but it sounds good in my head :) It would be interesting to do some experimenting.

Also, I think that the extra time it takes in the beginning can be worth the time you save at the end by not having to fade out lures and body language cues.

But mostly, free-shaping wears my dogs' minds out more, and I like that. It also teaches them to think for themselves more, which is something I value in training.
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 1st, 2009, 2:55 pm

What she said. 8)

I personally love free shaping...just hanging with my dogs, letting them come up with something on their own.

I also personally shape behaviors if it's something specific that I need them to do...such as doing a box turn in flyball or tugging a cabinet door open...that sort of thing, where I do need props, and I do have to lure or help them a bit to get started.
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Postby maberi » April 1st, 2009, 2:56 pm

Ok so I guess the majority of times I teach my dogs something I'm using a combo of shaping and free shaping.

For instance, to teach Kayden to focus on me I would click and treat anytime he made eye contact with me (easy enough).

But in another circumstance I used a combination of the two to teach Earl to open the fridge. I tied a towel on the handle of the fridge and told him to target the towel and from there gradually stopped clicking for the target and raised the criteria and clicked for mouthing the towel and so on until he was opening the fridge when asked. I never would have had the patience to "free shape" that behavior.

Someone in a class the other week exclaimed "You are luring him!!!" and I thought yes of course I am. I have used a combination of lures and free shaping to teach my guys just about everything. Other than a few instances I can't see the benefit of free shaping a behavior vs shaping it or if there is a downside to using a combination of the two.
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Postby Fuego » April 6th, 2009, 4:29 am

I think the free shaped behaviour is more constant and also better remembered. But a lot of behaviour especially for sports can't be shaped free. Also I'm sure a dog that learns a lot with free shaping will try to find out what you want a lot more often and simply work more by itself. The dog that usually gets clues will wait for you to give a clue.
I used free shaping for only two behaviours of basic obedience (class) and they are by far the best exercises.
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