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Peek at the Trainer's Homework! #1

It is very important for professional trainers to keep up their knowledge and skills by continuing to take workshops, courses and classes!

I have so much fun in my continuing education, and I know it helps keep me sharp and on my toes. Over the next six weeks I'll be taking part in a few courses and I thought it would be a good idea to share my "homework" on my blog -- in solidarity, of course! You all aren't the only ones with homework!

This course is "Advanced Shaping." Shaping is a technique that I use very frequently. It is one of those techniques which always has room for improvement! 

This homework assignment was actually given out before class even began. It's what's known as a "baseline," or the "test" portion of the "Test, train, test" improvement program. It's not my dog being tested here, though -- it's me!

The homework was to do a "simple shaping session, doesn't have to be anything fancy." Then answer the questions of "What was working?" and "What wasn't working?"

My homework is above, and in answer to the questions:

1) "What was working": Charlie is a super happy dog, always willing and very smart! He can get a tad bit frantic during clicker sessions and today he was much calmer, which I appreciated. Where I put the treats worked too, either feeding in position, or out of position so that he could get back into position.

Isolating the Side Pass Right and clicking it separately from the shoulder target/pressure worked. He got the shoulder target first and then the side pass a little later (trimmed from this video) and then we would have just had to put the two together.

2) "What wasn't working?": As I noted in the videos, my body was moving quite a bit, and so were my hands. All my dogs are super-sensitive to my body movements and I can elicit all sorts of things so easily with just things like a slight shoulder rotation or pointing moving my hand a couple of inches. For good shaping technique though, these are no-no's. You should stay as still as possible -- no "hinting" or "helping."

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