Lesson 10 – Shaping behavior


Congratulations ! Let’s start Shaping behavior.

Who is awesome? You are awesome! You have made it to the end of clicker training fundamentals. This is the final lesson where you are going to start shaping behavior with your animals. You have learned everything you need to learn to effectively incorporate the clicker into your training and write a plan for a new behavior. In this lesson, you will learn some basic information about using your training plan to shape new behaviors.

Before we go on, however, I want to remind you of the clicker training challenge that was introduced in lesson one. It is highly beneficial when managing behavior to develop a deep understanding of reinforcement, how it works and how to apply it. Understanding reinforcement and consequently how to use it is a really powerful skill to have. Consequently, Your journey does not end here. Keep seeking opportunities to grow and develop, read books, watch videos, attend conferences and whatever else it takes to continually add to and develop what you have just learned. I also highly recommend filming your training and watching it back. This technique really helps build an improved comprehension of behavior and helps you develop your ability. Most importantly though practice, practice and practice some more! Even the most experienced animal trainers in the world are consistently practicing and developing their skill sets.

Shaping behavior.

This whole course I have been alluding to shaping behavior, so it’s now time to have a turn and start working towards those behaviors you want. Shaping is the process by which we put your training plans into action. It requires successively reinforcing all the steps in the plan you have just written. The way it works is that once you have trained a step in the plan you then withold reinforcement for that step/behavior and then wait for any behavioral movement in the direction of the next step. As soon as we see that movement, we click and deliver food. We do this with each step of the plan until we reach the final behavior You saw an example with this and Devey the possum in the last video. Watch the video for this lesson, do the quiz and then practice, practice, practice!

Now you know how to shape new behavior the world is your oyster. Within the biological restraints of the species you are working with you can pretty much shape anything. If you are unsure of what behaviors might be next on your list then have a go at the following.

  • Targeting – This is where you get your animal to position a specific body part to a specific location. Frequently this is a nose to a target stick. You don’t have to target noses to target sticks though. You can target any body part. For example animals in zoological settings, such as lions and tigers, are frequently trained to target bums against the mesh. This can be beneficial when administering injections.
  • Crate training – This is a beneficial behavior for all animals to learn. It can make trips to the vet much less stressful.
  • Station training – This is when you train your animal to station its entire body to a specific location. This can be really beneficial in a diverse range of situations. You saw an example of this with Petra the possum in this course. We use stationing to get Petra to position herself in a more desirable location for us when we were entering and exiting her exhibit.

Be creative with your training and challenge yourself to train behaviors that reduce stress and increase physical and mental stimulation for your animals.

Than you  for participating in clicker training fundamentals. I hope you have enjoyed the experience and I look forward to connecting with you again soon.
You will always have access to this material via this website. Any updates or revisions I make to the course will additionally be updated for free, for your benefit.

Also as I have already mentioned please email me if you have any questions. There are also spaces to leave comments on the bottom of these pages and forums for you to utilize. If you are unsure of anything or would like further clarification about any of the topics that we have covered in this course then please don’t hesitate to send me a message.

Thanks again. Ryan Cartlidge – Animal Training Academy.