Shaping

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One of my childhood dreams is to train animals to do tricks, and this dream has come true.
My favorite part in this semester is shaping, which has been proved to be useful after I trained my cat successfully. Shaping is a way to shape a specific behavior by the way of operant conditioning. Basically it gives a signal or treat when a human or animal dose the specific behavior, and the treat or signal serves as a reinforcer.
A classical example that shapes behaviors of animals by the way of shaping is to train a dog by clicker. For example, if you want to train a dog to stand up, you simply begin from the simplest step, like when the dog raises his head. When the dog raises his head, you click the clicker to let the dog know he is doing the right thing, and the dog will do this more often. Once the dog learns to raise his left paw, you can move to the next level, and in the end the dog will learn to stand up when you click the clicker.
I tried the whole process during the last two months. I bought a clicker to train my cat to raise his hand. I raised his hand whenever he raised his paw, like when he was walking or licking his paw. As time passed, he learns to raise his paw whenever I click.
Training my cat was a lot of fun, and I will keep doing this in the future to teach him more tricks, and that's why I believe I will remember this concept in the following five years, or even longer than that.

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Shaping is very interesting to see in animals. I wonder how complicated a trick you could teach through shaping or if some things would be too much for an animal to learn even through little steps.

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This page contains a single entry by gongx109 published on April 29, 2012 9:01 PM.

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