Let the creativity of your dog run free! The “free form” and what it is all about.
Free Shaping promotes the creativity of your dog. This is where the grey brain cells are needed and demand a lot from your pelt-nose! Free Shaping is not only about creativity, but also about concentration. You as a human being shift down a gear in Free Shaping and “enjoy the show”. Watch how your dog starts to think for himself and thinks up the sweetest and funniest things to get a treat. You will be amazed at the ideas your dog comes up with!💡
Why Free Shaping?
In everyday life we have all kinds of commands for our dogs. So we tell them what they should do best in a certain situation. An example: You take your four-legged friend for a walk in the forest. Your dog runs free. From a distance you see a cyclist who will soon cross your path. For safety reasons, you call your dog to you. A scenario from everyday life, as every dog owner knows it. It hardly offers the possibility for dogs to make their own decision. They have never learned it.
But with free forming your dog has the possibility to think independently and act freely. To think and to come up with ideas himself to reach the goal. Your dog is allowed to try the wildest things without fixed rules and free muzzle, without being influenced by his owner or receiving instructions.
The clear advantage: Your dog learns quickly what will get him ahead and what will not get him anything. And that all by itself. This enables a faster learning process in dog tricks. Your dog will learn new tricks without any guidance. Thanks to Free Shaping, Rana has learned to walk backwards all by herself. Thanks to Free Shaping, Mateo and I were able to learn barking on command. Mateo created the base on his own, while I only had to introduce one command. That went like a bird!
Furthermore, Free Shaping is a good way to encourage shy and frightened dogs. Dogs build up self-confidence because here they have the opportunity to assert themselves and to be rewarded for their own thought processes. With Free Shaping there is only positive feedback! Something that your dog is not supposed to do is simply ignored. Therefore, you cannot make your insecure dog even more insecure, but only encourage him in his actions in a positive way. That motivates you immensely, of course. Mojo, for example, is a dog that is very strongly oriented towards me. Independent thinking was in principle a foreign word for him for a long time. Accordingly, free forming was difficult for him. But now he has got the hang of it and has already gained a lot of self-confidence!
How does Free Shaping work?
For your dog and also for you free shaping will be a completely new learning situation. Therefore the exercise units should not last longer than 10 minutes. Your dog should always follow your commands and instructions and suddenly the tables are turned. This is not always understood immediately. Therefore, as the owner, you should bring a large portion of patience with you. The way is the goal 😉
Sit in front of your dog with treats. The treats must be visible for your dog. In this way you increase the motivation of your pelt-nose. Now he just has to find a way to get them. This is where free forming comes into play. You sit in front of your dog and wait. I usually have the treats on my lap. That way the dogs can see them, but they can’t steal them. The one or other dog will surely try that. I ignore this behaviour as far as possible and block the cheeky theft attempt with my hand. My guess is that your dog will sit down in front of you first. Just as he has just learned it: My human will give me a cookie if I sit down and wait nicely. Of course you’ll throw a treat.
At this point, I say throw aimed, because: If you reward your dog for a movement by shoving the treat into his mouth as usual, your dog will logically not change its position. By throwing the treat as a confirmation, your dog will automatically leave the assumed position (seat) to chase the reward. Your four-legged friend will most likely sit in front of you again. You can reward him 2-3 more times to increase his motivation.
In the next step repetitions are ignored. In general: Your dog will not be rewarded for the same trick repeatedly. Why? Because otherwise it wouldn’t be free forming, but a blunt play of already learned commands. Probably even alternating. Your dog is not stupid! He’s playing with what he’s already learned. It’s always worked before.)
Now there are two types of dogs:
The dog that knows no further and stares at his mistress or master in a bewildered way. According to the motto “What is it now? I’m sitting! Give me that. I’m waiting!” Patience is the magic word here. Sooner or later your dog will move from his fixed position to the pitch. Reward! Or get up out of boredom. Reward! Or just look at the ground. Reward! Maybe he looks up at you from the ground. Reward! Is he looking at the treats? Reward! Your dog yawns after a while? Reward!
You see, in free shaping, there are no limits. Reward your dog for all kinds of movements, actions and behaviour. Even if they happen unconsciously. This way your dog will gradually become more creative.
That is free shaping! There are no limits to creativity.