shaping: watching the light turn on

I’ve found this beginning process of shaping really, really fascinating. I mustn’t have paid much attention when I started shaping Lu because I have absolutely no recollection of this part of the process.

Here’s a little puppy who loves food. He says: if I sit, I get food. Sometimes if I drop I get food. I can do these things and get food or pats or both! I will sit and drop. Look at me sitting and dropping.

Oh look, a skateboard! Oh! I sniffed it and then there was a noise and now there is food on it! I wonder if there is more food! I will sniff it again! Look! More food! I wonder if there’s more food on it, but I will have to climb on to check. Wow! That made the person very happy and now I get to play with my toy. This is wonderful. That was fun playing. Oh, the person has food… I can drop for food! I will drop. Nothing is happening. Maybe I will put my face down. Still nothing. Hey! What’s that skateboard!? I think there was food on there last time! I will go sniff it! Look! Food appeared!

It’s so amazing to me that I can go from a puppy who literally just stared at me when we first got him, to one that is now starting to explore the plate or skateboard or box that I put down. Not necessarily in the purposeful, experimental way that I get with Lu yet, of course! But it’s amazing to watch him go from just sniffing and accidentally standing in/on, to today, going: MY PAW IS ON THE PLATE! YAY! in a more purposeful fashion. At least that’s what I think I saw. 😉

Since at first he was sort of confused about the game, I took Penny’s advice and just put a whole lot of things out on the ground, so he more or less couldn’t help but interact with SOMETHING as he moved around. This morning he was showing the very beginning stages of paw targeting a plate, and getting 4-in in a shoe box. I love it that now, already, he hears a click and freezes where he is, waiting for food. He’s starting to associate the click with food.

It’s very funny though when he, say, gets 4 in the shoebox and I go: “YAYYY WHAT A GOOD BOY, GET IT!” and start dragging the toy around to play with and he’s looking all confused about where’s the jackpot of biscuits he sometimes gets for a good job and why is the lady sounding so crazy and hey, what’s that over there, hey look it’s a toy YAY! I suppose sometimes soon he’ll start to associate the ‘jackpot voice’ with playing and excitement. 

It’s fascinating to see him ‘switch on’ to the game. 

Yesterday he: went to a market and travelled around in a reusable shopping bag and got lots of pats from lots of ladies and some kids, met some people I train, including a man in a beard, hat and sunglasses (excellent!), saw and heard busses and cars, and we did some good handling stuff, going on his back, handling paws, teeth, tail, Nic brushed him yesterday and he wasn’t fussed. Tonight we’re visiting some friends so he’ll get to explore a new house.

Apparently his siblings have been sleeping through the night with no accidents. Why is my puppy waking me up at 12 and 4 or 5 every night??? I decided that this morning at 12.30am he was just fussing and turning around but wasn’t making enough of a fuss to suggest he needed to go out… then maybe he cried a bit more (I don’t remember, it’s all a blur) so I let him out, and whaddya know, he’d peed in there. Sigh. 

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