October 11, 2020

Karen Pryor’s Modern Principles of Shaping

1. Be prepared before you start

Have a plan ready with all materials set-up ahead of time

2. Ensure success at each step

Keep it positive by ensuring the animal has a realistic chance of success at each step

3. Train one criterion at a time

Make sure you are only shaping one aspect of a behaviour at a time. For example, if you are shaping the speed of a recall, don’t worry about anything besides the speed. If you bridge when they slow down as they reach, you are not actually reinforcing the speed.

4. Relax criteria when something changes

When you want to change an existing behaviour, relax the criteria of it

5. If a plan doesn’t work, make another

Don’t be afraid to make a new plan

6. Keep training sessions continuously engaging

Your animal should be engaged with you the entire session

7. Go back to kindergarten, if necessary

If a behaviour deteriorates, go back to the last successful approximation to rebuild

8. Keep your attention on your subject while in session

Don’t become distracted from your plan while in session

9. Stay ahead of your subject

Be prepared to skip ahead if your animal suddenly does

10. End on a high note

End on a high note with strong reinforcement for a strong response