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Dog School - Week 4

General Rules
Once your dog is responding reliably to a cue at home, it is time to "Take the Show on the Road".
  • Provide clear feedback, so that he can see that the same rules that apply in his one training context (i.e., alone with you in the kitchen) still work out at the park.  At first, just working the dog in new areas in the house may provide enough distraction. When the dog is reliable in any room, ask family members to help you "proof" the dog.
  • Next, take the dog outside and work in new areas. Try working at the school, the park, the grocery store parking lot. You can integrate a few minutes of training into your daily routine.
  • Expect that when you first work in a new area your dog's performance will not be as good as at home. Initially, since you have raised the criteria by working in a new place, you may need to lower other criteria such as distance or duration. As you continue to practice your dog's competence and reliability will improve.

Also, make sure that your dog is getting the company and exercise that he needs and deserves.

Play some games with him, too. Try "hide-n-seek" or "find it" as well as the traditional "fetch".

Read and review Week 2 & 3 General Rules.


Obedience Commands


Continue to practice Loose Leash Walking.
  • This week add pace changes, fast & slow.
  • Practice in new areas, with more distraction.
  • Increase the number of steps that you can do between reinforcers.
  • Continue to give clear feedback and raise the standard gradually. Teach accurately.

Continue to practice downs.
  • Now that your dog will "Down" on just the verbal, try tethering him, then standing 5 feet away and giving the cue. Initially he may struggle to get to you, but you will quietly wait until he lies down, then click, and toss him a treat.
  • Repeat and repeat. He will get quicker and quicker.
  • Work in new areas.

Practice sit-stay with the two new criteria: Motion and Posture Change. 

As you introduce the Motion criterion initially move just one step to the dog's left, if he holds position, click and treat. Then one step to the right, then 2 steps, and so on.  (For some dogs, you may need to start by just wiggling your feet around without going anywhere, until they are solid with that, then build from there.)

Then introduce the Posture Change criteria. Since making your body littler (crouching, bending, sitting) mimics the body language dogs use to encourage one another to approach, your dog will initially tend to break his stay if you take any position other than upright.  But, we want our well trained dogs to fit into our lives, lying under our feet as  we have coffee at a sidewalk cafe, and so on, so we will teach our dogs to hold the stay regardless of their owner's body position.  To teach this, start by giving the stay cue, then just bending forward very slightly, or bending your knees just a bit, and immediately click and treat if your dog holds the stay.  Gradually increase the lean or knee bend until you can crouch down and have your dog hold the stay.  Then try sitting down, slowly at first, in a chair, and having your dog stay.

Once you have introduced the four basic criteria (duration, distance, motion, posture change) for this behavior, you can mix them up and bit. Try some of the following: Owner circles dog as dog stays. Owner kneels or sits. Extend time of stay. Practice realistically: Stay by car, stay by door, stay to be greeted, etc.


This week, also introduce the "down-stay".  Build the time gradually, working so that your dog is able to down-stay for at least one minute by the end of the week.

Practice the "run-away come".  In an open area, with the dog on a long line, give the Come cue just once, cheerfully, then race away from your dog, stop, let him catch you, and praise, play, pat, treat, throw a party.  Do NOT be boring!

Repeat, repeat, repeat!  Have fun, too.  It's required.

Rules of Come :  i) Never say Come and punish your dog, or spoil his fun. ii) Do say Come when you are about to offer the dog something fun- a ride in the car, etc. iii) Say the command once and make it happen. If necessary exercise your dog on a long-line or Flexi so that you have control. Your dog should be off leash only where it is legal, and only if you have honestly put in enough work to make the dog reliable on his commands. Do not put your dog at risk.


Questions? Send Penny an email penny @ whatagoodpuppy.com (remove the spaces)