Free Dog Training Guide to Shaping – Success Dogs

FREE Dog Training Guide: How To Train Your Dog Using The Shaping Method...


This was the movie that would forever change my destiny.

Have you seen it?

Here's what the movie cover looks like (in case it rings a bell...)

It's an old movie from 1991 where an uber-smart dog named Bingo goes on an incredible journey to find his owner who moved away, travelling the city and doing unbelievable tricks in the process.

When I saw this movie as a young boy, I was mesmerized.

I couldn't believe what this dog could do...

One trick in particular that I impressed me was seeing Bingo playing chess.

I thought this was the coolest and most amazing thing I had ever seen.

So years later, once I attended dog training school, I was finally able to figure out how they taught the trick.

Naturally, I wanted to teach it to my dog as well.

It was challenging, but I did it. In just a couple of weeks, I was able to get my dog Onyx to play chess with me.

Take a look at the video of us playing chess together:

Of course, my dog isn't strategically playing chess with me.

Nevertheless, it is still a great feat to have been able to train her to take chess pieces and put them in a little box beside the board.

In fact, I had trained her to ONLY pick up the black pawn (as you can see in the video above.)

The hardest part, was the chess game was given to me as a gift from my father and it was hand-made out of marble. Had Onyx dropped just one piece on the board, something probably would have broken.

Glad that didn't happen!

Now, you're probably wondering how I was able to teach the trick, right?

Here's how:

First of all, I have to explain what shaping is. It simply means rewarding small behaviors that lead to a more complex behavior (such as playing chess.)

For this particular trick, I started by rewarding my dog for biting the pawn. I didn't have the board set-up like you see in the video, instead, I started on carpet with nothing else distracting my dog.

Then, once she had gotten the hang of that, I upped my criteria. Now, she had to bite the pawn and lift it off the ground (a few inches to begin with) before I rewarded her.

In other words, I stopped rewarding the first criteria (biting the pawn) and now she would only get a reward if she lifted it up the ground.

The process continued, and little by little, I would ask for more until I had finally achieved the final trick you saw in the video above.

The coolest part was seeing my dog trying to figure out what I wanted. I could almost see gears turning inside her head. πŸ™‚

In total, I rewarded a total of 14 smaller behaviors.

They were:

  • Bite pawn.
  • Pick up pawn off the ground.
  • Bring pawn up to eye level.
  • Hold pawn in mouth for 1 - 2 seconds.
  • Hold pawn in mouth for 3 - 4 seconds.
  • Drop pawn inside a cardboard box (directly beneath dog.)
  • Drop pawn inside cardboard box (slightly off to the side.)
  • Drop pawn inside cardboard box (way off to the side.)
  • Pick up pawn from chess board (and put it inside cardboard box.)
  • Placed two pawns on board (one white, one black) - Must pick up the black one.
  • Added two additional white chess pieces - Must pick up the black one.
  • Added three additional white chess pieces - Must pick up the black one.
  • Mix the board - Must pick up the black one.
  • Continue adding chess pieces - Must pick up the black pawn.

Now, if you'd like to learn this training method and see exactly, step-by-step, how you can use adapt it to train your dog to do ANYTHING you want... I do have a course that you should seriously consider (see below...)

Want to MASTER the Shaping Training Method?

Great! Here's what you need to do...

A little while ago, I created an online dog training course titled the "Superhero Game Plan."

Have you ever wondered how movie or service dogs are trained? Or how about those amazing dogs you see on YouTube doing incredible tricks?

Inside this course, you will learn exactly how professional dog trainers are able to teach these advanced and complex behaviors like...

  • Retrieving a drink from the fridge...
  • Putting their toys away...
  • Helping with the laundry...
  • Getting a tissue after you sneeze...
  • Riding a skateboard...

Or ANY other behaviors / tricks your heart desires. The sky is truly the limit as to what you can train your dog to do. Best of all, this course is perfect for beginners just starting out on their training journey, and is also suitable for experienced trainers who are looking to refine their approach.

Click here to enroll in this program now.

Before you go out and try training your dog using the shaping training method...

The most important thing to remember, is that you must set your dog up for success.

With this training method, you have to assume the role of the silent observer and let your dog figure out what you want on his own.

This means, that you have to WAIT until your dog performs the behavior you want before rewarding it.

I know, it's tricky...

If you ask too much from your dog, your dog will become frustrated and unresponsive. As a trainer, you have to resist the urge to help and guide them.

That's why creating a "shaping map" before the actual training is critical.

A shaping map is simply a list of steps (or small behaviors) that leads to the final behavior you want your dog to perform.

This is something I teach in depth inside my Superhero Game Plan, however, the concept is simple.

Begin by closing your eyes, and visualizing your dog learning or doing the final behavior you want.

First, watch it from your perspective first (seeing your dog doing the trick from a distance.)

Secondly, watch it from your dog's perspective (as if you are watching through your dog's eyes.)

Then, write down each step along the way.

Let's look at another behavior, riding a skateboard. The shaping map would look something like this:

  • Look at skateboard.
  • Walk towards skateboard.
  • Sniff or touch skateboard.
  • Put front paw on skateboard.
  • While front paw is on skateboard, back paw comes closer to skateboard.
  • Two paws are on skateboard.
  • Three paws are on skateboard.
  • Four paws are on skateboard.
  • Facing the front of the skateboard.
  • Staying on skateboard with light movement side to side.
  • Staying on skateboard with light movement on the ground.
  • Using a paw to balance or push off (to gain speed.)

As you can see, this process ends up creating a list of behaviors that you can now use to train your dog to ride a skateboard...

Pretty cool, right?

As I mentioned above, it's important to set-up your dog for success. So for this trick, I would personally begin the trick without any wheels on the skateboard (or the skateboard placed on thick carpet) so it doesn't slide or move.


Because you want your dog to be successful. The first nine steps don't require a moving skateboard. Why not use this time to build the dog's confidence to get on the skateboard?

And beside, an accident or a fall early on could derail the training where the dog could become fearful of the skateboard, making it that much harder later on. So why even risk it.

ALSO... When you're training your dog, it's HIGHLY important to note that timing is everything.

Your dog ONLY understands what you want by the feedback you give after a behavior occurs.

With this training method - the feedback is positive (think giving your dog a treat, something he or she likes.)

So, for your dog to understand which behavior earned him a treat, it's critical that you mark the correct behavior with a clicker or the word "YES!".

(Note: If you've never trained your dog using a marker signal, such as a clicker or the word "YES!", then you will first need to condition your dog to it... Click here to watch a free lesson on this topic.)

Here's how this whole sequence plays out:




For your dog to effectively understand what you want... Each step MUST occur immediately after each other, within one second... But also, NOT at the same time.

Also, it's very important that you break down a trick into smaller trainable steps that your dog can figure out on his own.

Now, it's your turn... Give it a try with your dog!

Have fun with this...

The sky is the limit as to what you can train your dog to do with this training method.

Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

Yes, I do read each and every comment that is sent my way. I do hope to meet you and your dog inside one of my online dog training courses someday!

To your training success,
Jean Cote, aka – β€œThe Dog Training Guy”

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