Shopping Basket
Your shopping basket is empty
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Quote Mark

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Question about shaping



I recieved the following question and thought it was worth sharinging with everyone.



Dear Ben
I am reading your book (Successive Approximation How to create and use a Shaping plan). In the attractive paragraph you say "To know if something is really going to be attractive to us" does this mean we should only set goals that we find attractive? I think whether we find the goal attractive or not, if it benefits or helps the animal then we should do it. For example at work we have a little pony who is very nervous, he is very tense when we do anything with him especially in the arena (he will do it but he is not happy about it). I think one of the goals for him would be to for him to walk over a plastic tarpaulin calmly, but this not a very attractive goal, compared to such as loading another pony to go on a show. Does this mean we should carry on with this little pony as we are and work with the other pony’s loading, or should we do as I think and help this little pony to be calm relaxed on the plastic?

Also if we did have a pony like the nervous one could we have more then one goal, e.g.

1. Walking over the plastic calm and relaxed  

2. Standing in the arena relaxed while being groomed.

Or do you think we should put it into one big goal e.g come in relaxed, and do the work in a clam manner?


Thanks for the question.
By attractive I mean that you desire the outcome. So if a goal will benefit the animal it should be attractive to the trainer, even if it is hard work or not the most exciting. The goal does not have to be big or exciting to be attractive. We just have to want it and the goal of the pony walking over the plastic is clearly from your comments attractive to you so. I would have that as part of your
shaping plan for your pony it may not be the final goal but a step along the way. The final goal for the pony would be to calmly and in a relaxed way accept all of the activities of being a domesticated pony. The other "goals" you mention are steps along the training path to reaching the final goal, each is a mini goal if you like on the same path. Each has its own value but all must be done to reach the final destination.


“If you don’t grow the roots you can’t enjoy the fruit.”

Hope this helps.

[ View All Thoughts ]