Dog School Week 3

· As your dog masters a command, fade using the lure and use the hand signal instead.
· Remember to have the verbal cue precede the signal!
· Use lures to elicit only new behaviors.
· As your dog masters a behavior make him work harder for the reinforcer. He may have to perform 5 or 6 behaviors for 1 treat. Or perhaps you will reward only his quickest performance, etc.
Work on the “Sit, Down, Sit, Stand” Sequence we rehearsed in class.
· Make sure that your dog is also working for real-life rewards.
· He should be sitting for breakfast, and to earn his walk, or doing a sit/down/sit before he is allowed on the bed, etc.

· Make sure that your dog is getting adequate exercise, company and problem-solving games. These things may be as critical to his good behavior as is training.

· When rehearsing behaviors your dog is beginning to be proficient at, try working in new contexts, i.e. new rooms of the house, new locations outside of the house, or with the trainer in new positions (seated rather than standing, at a distance of 6 feet rather than 2 feet, etc.)

· New behaviors should be rehearsed with little distraction.



  • Practice “Loose leash walking”.
    • Move briskly and talk to the dog cheerfully to keep his attention on you.
    • Initially require the dog to follow for only a few steps before you reward. As he improves increase the number of steps.
  • Practice Better “sit”.
    • Practice “picture changes”, that is, instead of allowing your dog to predict that you standing upright, facing him, hand in bait bag = a “Sit” cue…get him to really listen and look for the actual cue, by working him while you are seated, kneeling, lying on the couch; while you are 2 feet from him and 5 feet from him; While you are facing him, and sideways to him…
    • Have your dog “earn” everything by doing a sit (with or without the Watch Me.) He must sit to earn dinner, walks, leash-walks, and so on…
  • Practice Better “down”:
    • At this point your dog should be reliably targeting an empty hand to go “down”, so your job now is to have him “Down” on a verbal cue alone.
    • If you “captured” the down, you will have the behavior on verbal cue by now, so try harder version, such as:
      Downs with you seated, and/or Downs with you at a distance (leash your dog, walk 10 feet away cue “down”, wait quietly for success, click then treat.)

New Skills

 Practice “sit-stay”

Strive for 60 second stay by the end of the week. Remember, the “stay” ends only with the release word or a new cue.
To teach the Sit-stay: Place 8 or 10 food treats in your cupped left hand, hold the clicker above the treats with your thumb on the button, and wrap the leash around your left wrist, or drop the leash and stand on it. This will leave your right hand free to signal. The signal is your right hand held upright, palm towards the dog, as if you were stopping traffic. Start by practicing very short stays, and then gradually increase the time the puppy is required to stay. The sequence will go like this:
Say “Sit, stay”, then instantly, “Click”/ treat
While the dog is still eating his treat, cue “Sit, Stay”/signal, then pause very briefly, before delivering the “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 1, “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 1, 2, “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 1, 2,3 “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 1, 2,3,4 “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 1,2,3,4,5, “click”/ treat
Each time the dog is successful, add one second, until you reach:
“Sit, Stay”/signal, count 10, “click”/ treat
Now, add the distance criterion, bit by bit.
“Sit, Stay”/signal, step back with your right foot only, bring it back into position, “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, step back with your left foot only, bring it back into position, “click”/ treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, step away with both feet, (no duration though!), step back, “click”/treat
“Sit, Stay”/signal, step away, count 1, step back, “click” /treat
Sit, Stay”/signal, step away, count 1, 2, step back, “click” /treat
So long as the dog is successful, keep adding a second each time until you reach: “Sit, Stay”/signal, step away, count 10, step back, “click”/treat
If the dog breaks the stay, start again at the last stay the dog was successful at, increasing your time or distance increment more gradually this time.
Make your stays more stable by, “aiming for the nose while watching the toes”. That is, 1) deliver your food from above, aiming down at your dog’s upturned nose, rather than from below, aiming at his chin. If your hand comes in low, he will tend to lower his head, and stand up. If he is keeping his head up, nose in a “howling-at-the moon” position, he will tend to keep his rear locked into a sit! 2) Watch his toes. If he is lifting his foot off the ground, “cancel” food delivery for a second, then begin to lower the food again only when all four of his feet are on the ground. If you feed while he is anxiously lifting his foot, you will tend to build that into the behavior! Get solid, stable stays right from the very beginning!
Gradually increase the time that the dog stays until he can do 30 – 60 seconds.

Hand targeting

Hold a food lure between the fingers of your right, and hold your hand, flat palm towards the dog, a couple of inches from the dog’s nose. As his nose touché your hand, click, then deliver the treat.

Repeat 3 times, then hold out your empty hand. He will bump it optimistically. Click exactly when he touches, and treat. Now he’s targeting!

Repeat a few more times, then try moving your hand just a bit further away. The try to his left, his right, and so on. Click/treat each success.
Cue “Touch” just before he does the behavior.

Now you can use your hand targeting to pull your dog out of a sit into a stand.
You can also use the hand target to get your dog to Come, to have him follow you, and more!

Behavior Chains
Try having the dog do 2, 3 or even 4 behaviors for one reward: have him sit, then down, then pop back up into a sit, then follow the hand target onto a stand – then congratulate him (and yourself!)  and deliver a treat!

Rules of Problem Solving

  • Predict and prevent problems.
    • Set the dog up to be right: make sure he has adequate exercise, both physical and mental, and adequate company and attention.
    • Use gates, crates, exercise pens, tethering, closed doors, latched cupboards, etc., as necessary, (of course without damaging your dog’s quality of life (see above)) so your dog can’t choose wrong!
  • Redirect the dog’s natural behaviors to an acceptable substitute.
    • Teach him How to greet (perhaps Sit & Shake), What to chew, Where to pee, etc, rather than punishing him when he guesses wrong.
    • Reward behaviors you like.
    • Catch him being good. Praise him for lying quietly, chewing on his toy, going potty in the right place. Don’t take good behavior for granted!

For Next Week
Bring a Long-line.
(Please do not bring a retractable leash — but, if you own one — please do read the Safety Information that came with it.)
Bring any training tools suggested by instructor:
For example, yummier treats, different leash-walking equipment, a chew toy to occupy your dog when the boring human-talk part of class is happening…

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