I recommend that you choose and use “shaping” as much as possible than “luring” when you teach something to your blind dog. It’s because “shaping” can not only produce desirable behavior but also give a blind dog the opportunity to make the most of her creativity and imagination, and the thrill in finding new thing.
The two most useful ways to produce desirable behavior: “Luring” and “Shaping”
A hands-off method of guiding the dog through a behavior. For example, a food lure can be used to guide a dog from a sit into a down. This is a common method of getting more complex behaviors. Lures are usually food, but they may also be target sticks or anything else the dog will follow. Trainers must take care to fade the lure early.
Building new behavior by selectively reinforcing variations in existing behavior, during the action rather than after completion, to increase or strengthen the behavior in a specific manner or direction.
We can use both “luring” and “shaping” in training blind dogs. If we use “luring”, we should take a little ingenuity because they can’t know the position and move of food and target stick by sight.
If you use a treat held in your hand as a lure, you should keep the hand very close by your blind dog’s nose and move it very slowly in order that she can detect and follow it by smell. And we can make a “special” target stick for blind dogs to help her detect it by sound and follow it in safety. Please see this video, if you’d like to make and use it.
The principal differences between “Luring” and “Shaping”
What dogs focus on
When we train a dog with “luring”, the dog focuses on the lure being inch away from her. When we train a dog with “shaping”, the dog focuses on thinking of what to do to get a treat. In training with “shaping”, a dog needs to think and choose or create what to do for herself.
What is used to produce desirable behavior
“Luring” uses food (treats) or target to produce desirable behavior, and “shaping” uses dogs’ intelligence to produce desirable behavior.
Benefits of “Shaping”
“Luring” might be easier and quicker way to produce a behavior than “shaping”. But I recommend that you use “shaping” as much as possible when training your blind dog. It’s because “shaping” can provide important benefits for blind dogs (other kind of disabled dog and vision dogs, too!)
Developing self-control and self-confidence
In training with “shaping”, dogs are honored and rewarded for their ideas, discoveries and patience. It results in developing her self-confidence and self-control.
Giving the thrill in finding new thing
We use food as an extrinsic motivator when training with “shaping”, But to think, challenge and discover new things (intrinsic motivators) rather than food itself motivate blind dogs.
Blind dogs lost of both vision and joy of discovering something new. We can provide the opportunities to discover through not only nose games (nose work games) but also teaching tricks with “shaping”, “shaping” game and so on.
The moment of coming up with new idea is very exciting, and if a dog is given a reward for her idea and choice, it would be further exciting experience! The experiences will make your blind dog be eager to try something new.
Blind dogs can’t discovery new thing by sight, but their vivid imagination enables them to come up with new idea and discover new thing in their head. “Shaping” can not only teach behaviors to your blind dog but also give great and fun opportunities to enhance her life!
Learn about clicker training
“Shaping” requires more handler’s (your) knowledge and skills than “luring”. You should learn about clicker training and “shaping”. The best way that you get the knowledge and skills correctly is to take lessons and get advices by trainers/instructors using positive reinforcement training method.
The moment when you feel that your dog is visualizing same image as you in her mind’s eye will be incredible and exciting. Training with “shaping” is fun for both your dog and you.
You can learn more about clicker training and shaping with following articles:
- What is clicker training? by Mary Hunter (Stale Cheerios)
- B.F. Skinner and Shaping Behaviors by Mary Hunter (Stale Cheerios)
- Clicker Training. What is it? by Cindy Ludwig (Canine Connection LLC)
- The Shape of Shaping: Some Historical Notes by Karen Pryor (Karen Pryor Clicker Training)
- The Ten Laws of Shaping by Karen Pryor (Karen Pryor Clicker Training)
- The joy of shaping by Jenifer Cattet Ph.D. (Smart Animal Training Systems)
An example video of training blind dogs with shaping: