- Raise criteria in increments small enough so that the subject always has a realistic chance of reinforcement.
- Train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time. Don’t try to shape for two criteria simultaneously.
- During shaping, put the current level of response on a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement before adding or raising the criteria.
- When introducing a new criterion, or aspect of the behavioral skill, temporarily relax the old ones.
- Stay ahead of your subject: Plan your shaping program completely so that if the subject makes sudden progress, you are aware of what to reinforce next.
- Don’t change trainers in midstream. You can have several trainers per trainee, but stick to one shaper per behavior.
- If one shaping procedure is not eliciting progress, find another. There are as many ways to get behavior as there are trainers to think them up.
- Don’t interrupt a training session gratuitously; that constitutes a punishment.
- If behavior deteriorates, “Go back to kindergarten.” Quickly review the whole shaping process with a series of easily earned reinforcers.
- End each session on a high note, if possible, but in any case quit while you’re ahead.
Taken from Chapter 2 of Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor