I LOVE shaping games!!!!
It just takes a couple mins of your time and works wonders to build a cooperative relationship with your dog.
Besides building confidence for shy, fearful dogs; it gives "hyper" dogs a challenge to stimulate them mentally and best of all establishes a 'TEAM" effort!
Just think of how calm and exhausted you are after you've worked on a puzzle or how much fun it is to play Pictionary, or Charades with your favourite friends!
It's also great if you need to burn off some of your dog's energy when you're snowed in or on downpour rainy days. Even when you're tired and feeling under the weather, engaging your dog to use his mind is a great way to entertain you and them! Thinking dogs ROCK.
George my little beagle is NOT a natural retriever, AND is very FEARFUL about the world and everything in it in general. Building his confidence by playing games is a win, win situation. There are a lot of dogs who are afraid to investigate and end up figuring that the best defense is a good offense so they'll bark and lunge at the most novel things.
Daizy and Keegan retrieve and put laundry in the basket and last night I taught George to pick it up and flip it out of the basket :)
When it's safe to interact with something, I make a game out of it. No pressure on George, I just make it hard to resist and reward every brave move to interact with something novel. Stationary or moving, the more practice he gets, the more confident he becomes and the less he needs to "control" his environment.
We work together to change the fear into confidence. When using SHAPING techniques, his job is to initiate behaviours and I'll reward him for those that lead him in the right direction to the final behaviour I wish to teach. Having George put his paws into the basket means he has to learn to balance himself, which develops his body awareness. Ever notice children playing on a jungle gym? Some children are fearless, others just need to learn HOW to move their body before they feel comfortable climbing up, sliding down, hanging on and having fun!
Part 2 of 3: You can play interactive shaping games if you have a multi-dog household! It's also great way to promote sharing!!!!
Part 3 of 3: Helpful around the house, if you're tired or have a bad back..."obedience work" of retrieving things for you ends up with everyone having fun and working as a team...after all that's what training's all about!