5-Minute Games: Shape it Up!

Do you and your dog like shaping? Great! This is the game for you! Don’t worry about doing anything fancy or impressive – this is purely for fun. Keep your rate of reinforcement high, and enjoy your dog’s creativity!

1. Find an object your dog has never interacted with – ideally, she has never even seen it. It can be anything: a book, a chair, a couch cushion, binoculars, a sauce pan, a pencil, a hair brush, a bottle of shampoo, a beer can, a newspaper.

2. Grab a hand full of small (and delicious!) treats.

3. Take your dog, your object, and your treats to a distraction-free room in your house.

4. Set the timer on your phone to 1 minute.

5. Put the object down, and shape your dog. No need to have a goal behavior – see what she offers, and go from there!

6. When your timer goes off, pick up the object, and take a break.

7. Set your timer for a minute, and play, goof around or cuddle your dog until the timer goes off again.

8. Set the timer for another minute, and put down the object again. Continue shaping!

9.  Take another 1-minute play or cuddle break, and then shape for a third minute.

Example, minute 1: Phoebe and the plant!


The video shows the first minute of Shape it Up! with Phoebe. I grabbed the first object that caught my eye from a room the dogs are rarely allowed in: a potted plant. I put it down, and saw what Phoebe would give me!

It’s your turn! Find a novel object, and Shape It Up! I’d love to see a clip from your session in the comments!


If  you liked this game, join Chrissi in Finding Five – Training for a Busy World at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy! Class starts on December 1st, and registration is open now!

2 thoughts on “5-Minute Games: Shape it Up!

  1. Naoko says:

    Sorry I don’t understand what you are doing here. Are you trying to get Phoebe to be comfortable with the object (plant)? By shaping do you mean when Phoebe looks at / approaches the plant?

    • Chrissi Schranz says:

      Shaping is a training technique that only uses a clicker or other marker signal and treats to communicate with the dog. It’s a little like the “Hot and Cold” game we used to play as kids.

      In this specific example, Phoebe doesn’t know what I expect her to do. She will try different things, and I will click successive approximations for the plant. It’s as if I were using the clicker to say “warm,” “warmer,” and eventually “hot” in the children’s game.

      Here’s an introduction to the theory and practice of shaping: https://www.clickertraining.com/shaping-success

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