Welcome to Basic Manners for Real Life

Welcome to your new Basic Manners for Real Life online class. Here you will be able to find detailed written instructions and homework to go with each of your in-person classes. 

To get you started, below is a link to download a free copy of our Official Kindred Companions Training Manual. Please give it is once over before you attend your first class. You can access them at the bottom of this page.

 

 

RULES AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR FIRST CLASS:

  • Be on time. 
  • Have your dog on a flat collar or harness. No choke, prong, e-collars, or retractable (flexi) leads in class. If you're transitioning off one of these tools, bring it to class along with the required class equipment and we will be happy to help you.
  • Poop bags - Every puppy's gotta poop!
  • Closed-toe shoes or sneakers - no sandals, flipflops, or heels. We don't want anyone falling on a dog!
  • Bring LOTS of treats! 1-2 ziplock bags at least. However, if you run out, you can always purchase more from the store. 
  • Do not allow your dog to greet or play with the other dogs in class unless you're directed to by your instructor. This is highly important to ensure class flows properly and all dogs can feel safe and pay proper attention.
  • There are no make ups for classes. Please refer here for the information you missed if you could not attend a class.

Once you have attended your first class, go ahead and click on the obedience skill that corresponds with the class you just attended. At the top of each page, you will find handy links which will help you navigate to each particular lesson as well as the real world exercise for that week. Underneath each lesson will also be a link to a PDF version of the lesson/exercise for you to print out at your convenience. 

Please do not jump ahead obedience skills without instructor permission as each topic will be covered in class at it's proper pace.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your instructor via email. They are always happy to help you.

Kindred Companions Official Training Manual

Sit

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Shape a Sit

Goal:
• The dog places his rear end on the ground when cued.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Position your hand with a treat in it about 1 inch in front of your dog’s nose.
2. Slowly move the treat hand upward between your dog’s eyes and ears towards his rear. As your dog’s head lies up, in a gentle rocking motion his rear should approach the ground.
3. Click the instant your dog’s rear touches the ground and offer the treat.
4. After a few repetitions, you should be able to lure the behavior without a treat in your hand. Repeat until your dog is reliably sitting when prompted by your hand movement to earn a CT.
5. When the dog is predictably offering the sit position, introduce a verbal “sit” cue. The verbal cue should precede any hand movement and your dog’s rear touching the ground.

Helpful Hints
• If you’re having difficulty reaching the goal, you can simply try to capture the sit (wait for your dog to offer a sit, and then CT the instant his bottom touches the ground. Repeat until your dog is reliably offering a sit), or shape the sit (CT small increments towards the desired behavior until his bottom fully touches the ground).
• If your dog is backing up whilst you’re moving the lure hand over his hand, then encourage him closer to your body first before initiating the rearward movement. You can also teach the behavior against a physical barrier such as a wall or corner.
• Do not use your dog’s name prior to the “sit” cue, otherwise your dog will begin to think the cue is “Fido sit”. Do not repeat the word “sit” otherwise your dog will think the cue is “sit…sitsit”.
• Your original hand signal that you used to lure the dog into a sit can become your final hand signal; your instructor will demonstrate what this looks like.

Download Sit PDF


Distraction, Duration and Distance

Goal:
• Your dog begins to sit for longer periods of time, he can keep sitting even when there are distractions around, and he can learn to sit at a distance from you.

Develop Understanding:
1. Ask the dog to sit, and give him a treat (but no click/”yes”). Then immediately release him with the words “okay” as you take a step backward to encourage him to get up and move with you. This teaches your dog that he sits and needs to keep on sitting until he is released with your verbal release cue. Fade out the backward step over time.
2. Add distractions: Vary the location by training in other areas of your house, the backyard, front yard, on a walk, in the park, etc. Also, vary your body position relative to your dog: turn sideways so that your dog is at your side, wave your arms, recline in a chair, etc. Always release with your release cue “okay”.
3. Add duration. Return to the least distracting environment and begin to add duration. Your dog now needs to hold the sit for 1 second/Treat, 2 seconds/T, 3 seconds/T. Build up to 15 seconds. Then move to another environment and start again with a 1 second/T. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the duration, don’t always make it harder.
4. Add distance. Here your dog must maintain his sit as you take a step away from him and back towards him. Cue your dog to sit, lean away from him and Treat. Next time, take 1 step away from and 1 step back towards him and treat. Gradually, increase the distance a step at a time. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the distance, don’t always make it harder.

Helpful Hints
• When teaching duration or distance, if your dog breaks the sit, you have increased the time/distance too rapidly or the environment is too distracting. Go back to a shorter time or fewer number of steps.
• Vary the duration or distance so it is not always more difficult with each repetition. Sometimes you will ask for 5 seconds, other times you will release immediately.
• With each repetition, reward your dog with a treat while he is in the sit position (but do not click), then release his sit with your “okay” cue, then CT.

Download Sit PDF


Greet a Person with a Sit

dogwalkerstock.jpeg

Goal:
• Your dog learns to greet people politely by sitting. At this level your dog should recognize both the verbal cue and the hand signal, so that these cues can be used interchangeably. He should also remain sitting until released with your release cue.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Do a quick warm-up by cueing “sit” a few times and reinforcing correct responses.
2. With a person approaching from a distance, cue the “sit” before he or she arrives.
3. When the dog is reliably sitting on cue as the person approaches, begin practicing with other people approaching, including other dog/handler teams.

Helpful Hints
• Recruit friends and family to visit, and do practices sessions. Practice out on walks when new people are approaching.
• Test the verbal cue: Can your dog sit in response to a verbal “sit” while you hold a bag of groceries.
• Practice “sit” everywhere. Always reinforce your dog in these early days for good sits.

Download Sit PDF

Name Game

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Your Dog Checks in With You

Goal:
• To capture and reinforce periodic eye contact, or “check-ins” from your dog.
• Your dog’s name can be used to refocus your dog’s attention on you in a variety of situations.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Observe your dog and click the instant he looks at your face.
2. Toss the treat on the floor. Vary where the treat is tossed, or sometimes hand the treat straight to your dog’s mouth. By tossing the treat you are resetting your dog to offer the behavior again rather than just sitting and staring at you.
3. Practice once or twice a day with 10 treats each time.
4. Once your dog is reliably looking at you, start to add the cue, his name, just as he finishes eating the treat and begins to turn to look at you again. The verbal name-saying should precede the eye contact. Practice once or twice a day with 10 treats each time.

Helpful Hints:
• Remember that your dog’s name serves as a cue to look at you. It’s therefore advisable to have a number of nicknames (not just one) that you can use as “throw-away” names. If you over-use his real name without reinforcement, he will soon learn to start ignoring you. Use his nicknames instead for this more disposable function.
• Do not CT any other offered behaviors (jumping, barking, mouthing). Reward only quiet eye contact and attention.
• Sitting on the floor may be easier when starting to train small dogs because the dog will not have to look up as far.
• If you’re having trouble getting your dog to look at you, you can use a kissing noise to attract your dog to look at your face. Only use this kissy noise once or twice.

Download Name Game PDF


Respond to the Name Despite Distractions

Goal:
• To strengthen the dog’s response to his name in the presence of distractions.

Develop Understanding:
1. When your dog is mildly distracted, say his name. Click at the first hint of a response, including something as small as an ear twitch.
2. Continue with another activity until your dog becomes distracted again, then say his name. CT for correct responses.
3. Continue practicing in new situations and environments, periodically saying your dog’s name, and reinforcing all correct responses.

Helpful Hints:
• Take the behavior on the road: while out walking with your dog on leash, say his name and see if he can “check in” even though he is sniffing something interesting, looking at another dog or other people walking by. Keep reinforcing correct responses.
• If you think that the level of distraction is too high to get a “check in”, then rather use a nickname, and increase the distance between your dog and the object of his distraction.
• Do not waste your dog’s name.

Download Name Game PDF


Increase the Duration of Eye Contact

Goal:
• To increase the time your dog maintains eye contact in response to his name.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Say your dog’s name. When he looks at you, wait one second, then CT.
2. Slowly increase the duration of eye contact in 1-second increments. Do not reinforce if the dog looks away. Alternate between shorter and longer increments of time, not just longer each time.
3. When your dog is reliably holding eye contact for a few seconds, begin to reintroduce mild distractions, such as holding a treat out to your side. If the dog maintains eye contact, then CT.

Helpful Hints:
• Remember that eye contact is a very human thing, and does not naturally come to dogs. Teach duration slowly, and make sure that your dog’s body language shows that he is comfortable with this behavior. If he is uncomfortable, then go back a step or two or three, and build it up again. Eventually, most dogs learn that eye contact with humans is not a threatening behavior. This is a learned skill for dogs.

Download Name Game PDF

Recall

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Give fabulous treats for coming to you.

Goal:
• To create an automatic response in your dog to always come when you give the cue.

The Five Rules of Recall:
1. Never call your dog for anything unpleasant such as nail clipping, bathing or having his leash clipped on to go home from the park. In short anything that might give him pause the next time you call him.
2. Never call your dog if you are not sure he will come. All recalls should be successful recalls.
Work at your dog’s level. If he has a kindergarten recall, don’t give him a graduate assignment like being called away from a cat in a tree.
3. If you call your dog and he doesn’t come, you must make it happen. Run over to him and put a treat in front of his nose, backing up as you get his attention so he follows you.
4. Never repeat the cue. Resist the urge to call over and over and over. It only teaches your dog to tune out the cue. Call once and, if necessary, use rule 3. Make the recall happen.
5. Fabulous rewards get fabulous recalls. If you want your dog to stop whatever interesting doggie thing he is doing and come running to you, make it worth his while. Use extra yummy treats—no dry biscuits here!—or a well-thrown ball, if that is your dog’s fancy. Give a minimum of 5 treats for every single recall.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Inside your house, call your dog to you. Always use a cheerful tone of voice, and make sure you are loud enough to be heard. Remember to actually give the cue (“Fido, here”); your dog’s name by itself is not a recall. The dog doesn’t have to come from a great distance away. Even three feet away from you that first time is good enough.
2. When your dog comes to you, give him a minimum of five very yummy treats. Actually 30 treats would be better. Give the treats to him one after the other so that he doesn’t just swallow them in one go.
3. Practice this just once a day for the next two weeks. Every day. Inside your house. No distractions.

Helpful Hints:
• Use extra yummy treats: pecorino romano cheese, thick sliced ham, last night’s beef roast. Cut the treats small as always, but give them to your dog one at a time. This prolongs the excellence of the reward and thus reinforces the behavior even more strongly.
• Use a special word for the recall. Many people have burnt out the word “come” for their dogs through overuse. The word you choose should be precious to your dog.

Download Recall PDF


Start Building Duration and Distractions

Goal:
• To build fluency in the recall cue over longer distances and with more distractions.

Develop Understanding:
1. Gradually start to increase the distance that your dog has to come to you.
2. Always give him a minimum of five very yummy treats. You will do this for the rest of his life.
3. Now lure your dog with that first treat to sit directly in front of you, close enough that you could reach out and touch his collar (but don’t touch it yet). Also, do not verbally cue the sit; we want the sit to be a part of the recall cue.
4. Once your dog is confidently sitting in front of you to receive his treats, start to reach out your other hand towards his collar. Gently take hold of his collar.
5. Practice again, but this time add clipping the leash onto your dog’s collar.
6. Now introduce mild distractions such as toys lying around, people standing nearby, etc.

Helpful Hints:
• If your dog flinches away from you when you reach out to take hold of his collar, then you have proceeded too fast too quickly. Back up a step and refer to Level 1 of Handling to desensitize your dog to your hand on his collar.

Download Recall PDF


Lifetime training

Goal:
• To keep this cue rock-solid for the rest of your dog’s life.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Whenever you ask your dog to come to you for the next 10 – 15 years of his life, make sure that you have some yummy treats to give him. Occasionally remind him of the fabulous reward of 30 treats.

Helpful Hints:
• It’s important to keep reminding your dog that the recall really means “cookies” for the rest of her life. This is your dog’s emergency recall, and the stronger and more ingrained the behavior is in her repertoire, the easier you will be able to save your dog’s life should you ever need to.
• Concentrate on your recall as a good thing.

Download Recall PDF

Targeting

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Touch nose to hand

Goal:
• Teach the dog to touch his nose to your hand. This behavior will serve as a foundation skill for other behaviors.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Hold your hand still directly in front of your dog’s nose – an inch away at most. CT for any movement towards or nose-bop against your hand. Remove your hand after each click, then treat. Repeat until your dog is confidently nose-bopping your hand.
2. Hold your hand 1 inch to the left, the right, above and below your dog’s nose. Click the instant his nose touches your hand. Remove your hand, and then give him his treat.
3. Add the verbal cue “touch” as you present your hand.
4. Gradually increase the distance your dog has to move to bop your hand to 3 and then 6 inches. In front, to the left, the right, above and below his nose.

Helpful Hints:
• Click while your dog’s nose is touching your hand. A late click will teach your dog to move away from your hand instead.
• If your dog is hesitant to approach your hand, then you may be presenting your hand too far away from his nose. Move closer.
• Some dogs may start licking your hand. If you don’t mind this behavior then don’t worry about it. If you do mind, then start clicking just before her nose reaches your hand. Yes, timing gets to be really important here. Then take your hand away before she has time to lick it. She will soon realize that she can earn the treat without having to bring out her tongue.

Download Targeting PDF


Follow your hand

Goal:
• Teach the dog follow your hand. This will allow you to guide your dog into different positions or places if you need to. The emphasis here is on your dog following your movement, rather than actually touching your hand.

Develop Understanding:
1. Begin with a warm-up from Level 1 using the cue “touch” as you present your hand.
2. Start to present your hand slightly further away each time; click for any movement your dog makes to follow the target.
3. As your dog is reliably moving towards your hand, start to increase the distance and vary the position and direction in which you hold your hand. Work it so that your dog can follow your hand from three feet away from his nose.

Helpful Hints:
• This cue is very useful for teaching your dog to move into places that he might otherwise not go. For example, moving your dog onto the weighing scale at the veterinarian, or moving him into or out of your car, or off the couch at home.

Download Targeting PDF


Touch nose to object

Goal:
• Teach the dog bop his nose against an object. This will also serve as a foundation behavior for other skills.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Hold a target object (such as a target stick, a post-it note, a coaster or other prop) close to your dog’s nose – an inch away at most. CT for any movement towards or nose-bop against the target. Remove the target after each click, then treat. Repeat until your dog is confidently nose-bopping the object.
2. Hold your target 1 inch to the left, the right, above and below your dog’s nose. Click the instant his nose touches the target. Remove the target, then give him his treat.
3. Add the verbal cue “target” as you present the object.
4. Gradually increase the distance your dog has to move to bop the target. You want to build up to a distance of 2 – 3 feet.
5. Start asking your dog to follow the target over, under or around an obstacle or your body.
For example, you could ask him to crawl underneath your bent legs while you’re sitting in a chair.

Helpful Hints:
• This behavior is fun and versatile for both you and your dog. You could use it to teach your dog tricks such as opening or closing a door, ringing the doggie door-bell so that you can let him go outside to potty, fetching you a beer from the refrigerator, teaching tricks such as roll over, play dead, spin and twirl.
• Come to the Tricks class to find out the real power of targeting.

Download Targeting PDF

Down

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Shape a Down

Goal:
• Your dog learns to place his elbows and rear on the ground when cued.

Lay the Foundation:

  1. Position your hand with a treat in it about 1 inch in front of your dog’s nose.
  2. Slowly move the treat hand down to the ground (between your dog’s paws) and then back towards his elbows. As your dog’s head lowers to follow the treat, he tucks his chin in and his elbows should approach the ground.
  3. Click the instant your dog’s elbows and rear touch the ground and offer the treat.
  4. After five repetitions, you should be able to lure the behavior without a treat in your hand. Repeat until your dog is reliably offering a down when prompted by a treat-free hand movement to earn a click and treat.
  5. Add the verbal cue once the behavior becomes predictable: Just prior to your dog lying down, give your verbal cue “down”. This cue should precede any hand movement. Repeat.

Helpful Hints

• The behavior may be taught with your dog starting in a sitting or standing position.
• If your dog is backing up whilst you’re moving the lure hand over his head, then encourage him closer to your body first before initiating the rearward movement. You can
also teach the behavior against a physical barrier such as a wall or corner.
• If you’re having difficulty getting the entire behavior, then shape by clicking and treating small increments towards the desired behavior. This may mean that you will click and treat prior to the elbows touching the ground.
• You could also opt for capturing the behavior at home by simply waiting for your dog to offer a down. You should sit in a chair in closed room and pretend to read a magazine. 

Have your dog with you in the room, but don’t give him anything to do. Have your clicker and treats ready. Your dog will eventually become bored and lie down. The instant his bottom touches the ground, click and toss the treat on the floor. He’ll get up to eat the treat. Then ignore him again and pretend to read your magazine. When he lies down
again, click and toss the treat. Repeat until your dog is confidently offering a down. Once he has understood that the down is getting him the click, you can start to say the word “down” as you see him do the behavior.

Download Down PDF


 

Request a Down With You Standing Upright

Goal:
• Your dog learns to place his elbows and rear on the ground when cued without having you all bent over him.

Develop Understanding:

  1. Warm up your dog by practicing a few downs as in Level 1.
  2. Now start to slowly bring your own body upright until you are in a standing position: each time you do the hand movement, start from a slightly higher position (an inch higher than on your last attempt), and do not motion your hand all the way to the ground (your instructor will demonstrate this step). Repeat this step, until you are fully upright.
  3. This hand motion will become your final hand signal to cue the down.

Helpful Hints
• Change your height in very small increments, an inch at a time. If you change your own body posture too quickly, your dog will not understand that your are requesting the same “down” behavior from him in turn.

Download Down PDF


 

Distraction, Duration and Distance

Goal:
• Your dog begins to lie down for longer periods of time, he can stay lying down even when there are distractions around, and he can learn to lie down at a distance from you.

Practice Proficiency:

  1. Ask the dog to down, and give him a treat (but no click/”yes”). Then immediately release him with the words “okay” as you take a step backward to encourage him to get up and move with you. This teaches your dog that he downs and needs to stay in a down until he is released with your verbal release cue. Fade out the backward step over time.
  2. Add distractions: Vary the location by training in other areas of your house, the backyard, front yard, on a walk, in the park, etc. Also, vary your body position relative to your dog: turn sideways so that your dog is at your side, wave your arms, recline in a chair, etc. Always release with your release cue “okay”.
  3. Add duration. Return to the least distracting environment and begin to add duration. Your dog now needs to hold the down for 1 second/Treat, 2 seconds/Treat, 3 seconds/Treat. Build up to 15 seconds. Then move to another environment and start again with a 1 second/Treat. Always release with your release cue “okay” and Click and Treat. Vary the duration, don’t always make it harder.
  4. Add distance. Here your dog must maintain his down as you take a step away from him and back towards him. Cue your dog to down, lean away from him and Treat.
  5. Next time, take 1 step away from and 1 step back towards him and treat. Gradually, increase the distance a step at a time. Always release with your release cue “okay” and Click and Treat. Vary the distance, don’t always make it harder.

Helpful Hints
• When teaching duration or distance, if your dog breaks the down, you have increased the time/distance too rapidly or the environment is too distracting. Go back to a shorter time or fewer number of steps.
• Vary the duration or distance so it is not always more difficult with each repetition.
• With each repetition, reward your dog with a treat while he is in the down position (but do not click), then release his down with your “okay” cue, then Click and Treat.

Download Down PDF

Wait

 

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Introduce Waiting at a Boundary

Goal:
• To teach your dog to wait at a boundary (e.g. a doorway, a gate threshold, or inside a car) until given a cue for release.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Set up a visual boundary by stretching a rope in a straight line or taping a line on the floor (at home you can use an actual internal doorway).
2. With your dog on leash, walk up to the boundary. Stop on the inside of the boundary, click/say ”yes” and place a treat on the ground on the inside of the boundary. Whilst your dog is eating that treat, you (not your dog) step across the boundary, immediately click and place the treat on the ground on the inside of the boundary. Take another small step whilst your dog is eating the second treat, click/say “yes” and again toss the treat on the floor inside the boundary. Three clicks, three treats.
3. Repeat Step 2 five more times, or until your dog is hesitating on the inside of the boundary.
4. Introduce the cue “wait”, and when your dog hesitates, CT. Repeat another 5 times.
5. Now say “wait” and drop the leash as you cross the boundary. CT if your dog stays on the inside of the boundary.
6. Instead of doing the third click, replace it with a release word such as “okay” or “let’s go” that will cause the dog to cross the boundary to join you. Reinforce with a treat. If needed, you can also wave your arm in a “come and join me” fashion.

Helpful Hints:
• Practice wait during daily activities such as going through doors, getting in and out of a car, before putting down the food bowl, at a sidewalk curb, etc.
• Wait does NOT involve asking your dog to sit or down at the boundary. The position your dog is in does not matter; he simply has to stop all forward movement.

Download Wait PDF


Introduce Distractions to the Wait

Goal:
• To continue building the dog’s self-control by introducing mild distractions to the training environment.

Develop Understanding:
1. Begin with a quick warm-up from Level 1.
2. Repeat, but do not click (or say “yes”) when your dog waits at the boundary, but rather release him with your release word “okay”. Deliver a treat to your dog’s mouth when he crosses the boundary with you.
3. Finally, introduce some distractions, such as a tossed toy or a person standing on the other side of the boundary. Cue “wait” and when the dog hesitates for a few seconds, release and reinforce with a treat or access to the distraction.
4. Keep reinforcing the wait too: Sometimes in those seconds of hesitation, go back and hand deliver a treat to his mouth to tell him what a good boy he is for waiting.

Helpful Hints:
• In this level, clicks (“Yes”) are not needed. Rather, the release cue “okay”/”let’s go” is used to let the dog know that he can cross the boundary. Besides treats, you can also use the distractions (access to a visitor, play with a toy) as reinforcers when the dog waits and responds to the cross-the-boundary “okay” cue.
• Periodically reinforce the wait with a treat on the inside of the boundary. If your dog is anticipating the release cue and getting reinforced only on the outside of the boundary, then his waiting at the boundary will tend to become shorter and he will release himself before you can do so. If that happens, remind him of Level 1 again.

Download Wait PDF


Introduce Real Life Distractions

Goal:
• To use “wait” in real life. Practice at outside doorways (at home, at shops, at the vet, at friend’s homes).

Practice Proficiency:
1. Stand next to the dog on the inside of a doorway that leads to the outside. The door should be closed. Cue “wait” and open the door a crack (one or two inches). When the dog hesitates and/or looks at you, release with an “okay” and cross the boundary with your dog. Reinforce with a treat and/or play or a walk.
2. Continue practicing, opening the door an inch or two more, until the dog will respond to the “wait” cue cue when the door is wide open. Release with “okay” and reinforce.

Helpful Hints:
• Make sure that you practice in small enough increments that the dog is not tempted to ignore the boundary by bolting through the door or jumping out of the car the instant the door opens. For safety, use a leash until your dog is reliably responding to the “wait” cue. Keep the leash loose, it is just for safety, and not to hold the dog back.

Download Wait PDF

Watch Me

WHAT IS IT? 

This is where your dog looks at your eyes when you ask him to do so.

WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT SKILL? 

The first step in any training is to have our dogs focused on us. The cue can also be used in a variety of contexts to get your dog to refocus on you, despite distractions.

HOW TO TEACH IT?

  1. Start in a low distraction environment such as your bathroom. Have your dog on leash with you sitting in a chair. Mark (click or say “yes”) the instant your dog looks at your face and reward your dog by tossing a piece of food to the ground. Vary where you toss the treat with each repetition. Practice once or twice a day with 10 to 15 treats each time.
  2. Add a verbal cue “Watch Me” once the behavior is predictable. As your dog finishes eating his previous treat and turns to look at you, give your verbal cue. The verbal cue should precede the eye contact.
  3. Repeat Step 1, but with you standing upright. Leave off the verbal cue until the eye contact from your dog is reliable again.
  4. Then start to hold out for longer eye contact, building up duration by a second at a time before you mark and reward. Build to 5 seconds of eye contact. Don’t always make it harder; sometimes you should just mark and reward for a really short duration.

Leash Walking

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Practice inside your house and yard

Goal:
• While on leash, your dog pays attention to you as you take your first step together.
• Build a history of reinforcement at your left leg pant’s seam.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Inside your house, with your dog on leash, say your dog’s name to get eye contact, then take one step backwards away from your dog. CT for any movement towards you. Make sure that you always present the treat at your left pant’s leg seam. Repeat until your dog is fluently moving with you.
2. Repeat for moving right, left, forwards and backwards.
3. Say your dog’s name to get eye contact, then say “let’s go”, and take two steps away from him in any direction. CT for any movement towards you. Repeat in different directions.
4. Gradually increase the number of steps, one at a time before you CT. Don’t always make it harder: sometimes you should click for taking fewer steps.
5. Practice in new locations inside the home, and increase some distractions e.g. ask your partner to stand in the room (but ignoring the dog). Then take it outside into your back yard.

Helpful Hints:
• This teaches your dog to walk at your side, rather than exploring, forging or pulling on leash.
• Do not expect your dog to walk perfectly on leash within a week. This exercise takes a lot of practice by both of you. If it takes you 20 minutes just to get down your driveway then consider that time well spent.
• If you’re having trouble holding the leash, clicker and treats in your hand as well as your dog, talk to your instructor for some options to help you. Each person is an individual so there is no general holding technique that will work for everybody.
• It’s important to start this training indoors or in your backyard with minimal distractions.

Download Leash Walking PDF


Increase your distance between rewards

Goal:
• You gradually increase the number of steps you take between rewards.
• Your dog walks on a loose leash even when there are distractions.

Develop Understanding:
1. Now start taking more forward steps, and reward your dog for every two steps that he takes with you. Click as your dog is moving with you. Then stop and offer a treat from your left hand to your left pant’s seam.
2. If your dog pulls ahead, stop and stand still. Do not reinforce pulling by moving forward. Wait until your dog’s attention returns to you and then change direction. Turn left, right or go backwards before going forwards again.
3. Ask your dog to sit next to you whenever you stop, and stop often.
4. Gradually increase the number of steps, one at a time before you CT. Don’t always make it harder: sometimes you should click for taking fewer steps.

Helpful Hints
• CT whenever your dog looks at you to reinforce his attention on you. Be proactive and always reward appropriate walking.
• When training small dogs, use capturing or a target stick to prevent having to walk bent over.
• Use a visual marker, e.g. lines in the sidewalk, to remind yourself to click and deliver a treat every few steps.
• Make sure that you always reward your dog at your pant’s seam for walking next to you. This will help to encourage the dog to stay close to you in his “reinforcement zone”.
• It’s important to start this training indoors or in your backyard with minimal distractions.
• It takes two to pull. You should never exert your force to drag your dog anywhere. However, if your dog pulls you, you should stop dead in your tracks, and wait for him to turn around to look at you and then change direction as you start moving again.

Download Leash Walking PDF


Take it on the road

Goal:
• You gradually increase the distractions and duration of steps.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Add more steps to your forward movement.
2. Vary the number of steps and change direction in a random fashion (yes, your neighbors will start to worry about you). Keep CT’ing for the first movement towards you whenever you change direction.
3. Add distractions and head out on the road.
4. Make the distractions more challenging.
5. Remember to use your verbal cue “let’s go” every time you take that first step after a halt.

Helpful Hints
• Take breaks to allow your dog to explore and sniff. Consider using a cue “free” to signal exploration time

Download Leash Walking PDF

Stay

SIT- STAY & DOWN- STAY

Goal:

Dog stays in position until owner releases them. 

Laying the foundation:

  1. Ask the dog to sit or lay down, and give him a treat (but no click/”yes”). Then immediately release him with the words “okay” as you take a step backward to encourage him to get up and move with you. This teaches your dog that he sits/lays down and needs to stay in that position until he is released with your verbal release cue. Fade out the backward step over time.
  2. Add duration. Return to the least distracting environment and begin to add duration. Your dog now needs to hold the sit/down for 1 second/Treat, 2 seconds/T, 3 seconds/T. Build up to 15 seconds. Then move to another environment and start again with a 1 second/T. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the duration, don’t always make it harder.
  3. Add distance. Here your dog must maintain his sit/down as you take a step away from him and back towards him. Cue your dog to sit or down, lean away from him and Treat. Next time, take 1 step away from and 1 step back towards him and treat. Gradually, increase the distance a step at a time. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the distance, don’t always make it harder.

Helpful Hints
• When teaching duration or distance, if your dog breaks the sit/down, you have increased the time/distance too rapidly or the environment is too distracting. Go back to a shorter time or fewer number of steps.
• Vary the duration or distance so it is not always more difficult with each repetition. Sometimes you will ask for 5 seconds, other times you will release immediately.
• With each repetition, reward your dog with a treat while he is in the sit/down position (but do not click), then release his sit/down with your “okay” cue, then CT.

Leave It

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Teach your dog to ignore food

Goal:
• Teach your dog to ignore food offered in your hand in response to the cue “leave it”.

Lay the Foundation:
1. The dog moves away from a treat in your closed fist: Present your fist (with a treat in it) to the dog. She will lick and sniff your hand, but eventually give up and move her nose away. The instance that she moves her nose away is the instant you click/”yes”. Then give her a treat from your other hand. Repeat until she no longer bothers to sniff your hand.
2. Teach step 1 again, but now ask your dog to stay away from your closed fist for 5 seconds. Start with a 1 second delay before you CT, then gradually increase to 5 seconds.
3. When you can see that she knows that the way to earn a treat is to keep her nose away from your hand, start adding the verbal cue “leave it”.
4. Repeat step 1, but now hold the treat on your open palm, again slowly building up to 5 seconds before you CT. Start by holding your palm out to the dog just above nose height. If your dog goes for the treat just close your fist, but do not jerk your hand out of reach.

Helpful Hints
• The “leave it” cue is great for calling your dog away from things not intended for her, like consumables or trash on the street. It’s great for helping your dog to just keep moving when it’s time for the exercise portion of your walk, instead of stopping to sniff every smell or icky dead squirrel. (Remember, though, that dogs love to use their noses—give your dog some sniffing time on his walks, too!). You can also use it to call your dog away from other people or dogs, or from picking up a dropped medicine tablet off your floor!
• To make this easier, use a lower value of treat that the dog should “leave it”, while rewarding her with a higher value treat.
• If your dog makes a mistake twice in a row, then you’ve made it too hard too quickly. Go back to an earlier step in the process.

Download Leave It PDF


Teach your dog to ignore food on the floor

Goal:
• Build the dog’s skill of ignoring food and other inappropriate objects.

Develop Understanding:
1. Lower your open palm (with treat on it) to the floor so that your knuckles are resting on the floor while saying “leave it”. Your dog should continue to ignore the treat.
2. Then start to place the treat on the floor as you say “Leave it”. Be prepared to cover the treat with your hand if your dog really cannot resist it. Repeat until your dog is reliably ignoring the food in your hand at floor level.
3. Finally, you need to start standing upright whilst the treat is still lying on the floor. You may use your foot to cover the treat if needed.
4. Repeat the entire exercise with an item that the dog may not have (e.g. a kid’s toy, a sock). Place the item on the floor in front of you as you say “Leave it”. If your dog looks away from the item and/or makes eye contact with you, CT.

Helpful Hints
• Remember to keep the tone of your voice light and easy. Do not allow anger or frustration to build in the words “leave it”. Remember that, to your dog, “leave it” means “if you leave that thing alone, Mom/Dad will give me something else instead”. Keep it fun.

Download Leave It PDF


Teach your dog to ignore items everywhere

Goal:
• Further build the dog’s skill of ignoring food and other inappropriate objects. Food and/or objects will be placed closer to and fully visible to your dog.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Ask your dog to Sit or Down, then place a treat on the ground about 4 feet away from the dog. When he hesitates and/or looks at you, CT.
2. Begin to place the desirable item a little closer to your dog as you say “Leave it”. When he hesitates and/or looks at you, CT.
3. Repeat Steps 1 – 2 with a different object.
4. Repeat Steps 1 – 2 with a person as the “leave it” object.
5. Repeat Steps 1 – 2 with another dog as the “leave it” object.
6. Next, ask your dog to “leave it” as you drop a treat from your hand to the floor. Yes, drop it, and let it roll. If he can’t succeed, then go back to an earlier step and rework the procedure from there.
7. Continue training and/or refreshing this cue to your dog periodically until your dog can resist food/objects on the floor in response to the “Leave it” cue.

Helpful Hints
• Progress in small enough increments that there is no need to pick up or cover the food/ object to prevent grabbing. If the dog is unable to resist the item, place it at a greater distance and try again.
• Here is a challenge: Turn this exercise into a game: can you put a treat on top of your dog’s nose and ask him to “leave it”? Can you put multiple treats on the floor, and ask him to leave all of them? And then, maybe, only get to eat one of them, but leave the others alone? Can you put a treat on top of his front leg as he is lying down, and ask him to “leave it”. Multiple treats placed on his leg?

Download Leave It PDF

Get It/Drop It

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Teach your dog to “Drop It”

Goal:
• To give both your dog and you an outlet for structured play and energy burning.
• Your dog learns how to control his jaws.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Tug of War Rules:
• The dog drops (lets go) the tug toy on cue.
• The dog may not take or retake the toy until invited to do so. Always pair the phrase “Get it” whenever you re-present the toy to your dog.
• There are frequent obedience breaks. Use the tug game as a reinforcer/reward for practicing a bit of obedience training or good doggy manners.
• There is zero tolerance of accidents. If the dog makes any mouth contact with your hand at all, then screech “ouch” and end the game (even if it didn’t hurt you). Wait 15 seconds, and restart the game.

Lay the Foundation:

1. Start training “Drop It” by practicing some low-key exchanges with him first: Hand him the toy, immediately cue the “Drop It”, As you say “Drop It”, make sure that your own hand holding the toy goes still (you make the toy lose its prey value when you hold it still). Also, hold the food reward very close to his mouth just underneath his nose. Wait for him to release the toy from his mouth, click (or say “yes”) the instant he releases the toy, and give him the food reward.
2. Your dog must release the toy willingly – you should not pry the toy out of his mouth.

Helpful Hints
• Some dogs take to this game very naturally, whilst other dogs look at you strangely and with no desire to take the object into their mouths. Some of these dogs can be taught to play tug (see below), but some dogs will just never get it. Don't worry about that, just respect the kind of play style that your dog does like, and go with the flow. The principles and rules of tug play will apply to whatever game you do end up playing with your dog.
• If the dog won't take the toy into his mouth, then practice these exchanges with him: encourage him to “Get it” by rewarding any mouth contact to the toy with a food reward.

Download Get it / Drop it PDF


Make the Behavior Solid, and Introduce “get it”

Goal:
• Your dog learns to only take the toy on invitation from you.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Develop Understanding:
1. Once your dog is able to “drop” the toy reliably on cue, you should start to hide the food reward so that you can be sure that the dog is doing his part of the bargain by releasing the toy on faith.
2. Once he is able to do this reliably, then you can represent the toy to him as a reward rather than giving him a food reward.
3. Also, start pairing the cue “get it” as you present the toy back to your dog for him to take.

Helpful Hints
• Tug play bouts should never last longer than 30 seconds before you cue a “drop it”.
• You can use this game to build your dog’s cooperation: In between bouts of tug play, you can start to ask your dog for an easy behavior such as sit, down or touch. Make sure that he responds promptly and swiftly to your request. If he doesn’t respond swiftly, then end the game altogether. You are teaching your dog to work with you: he gets what he wants (tug play) in return for giving you what you want (fast response times to obedience cues).

Download Get it / Drop it PDF


You Play Tug

Goal:
• To give both your dog and you an outlet for structured play and energy burning.
• Your dog learns how to control his jaws.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Now present the toy to your dog, but do not say “get it” yet. Pause. Then say “get it”, and make the toy even more inviting to your dog to take a hold of. If your dog goes for the retake without the verbal invitation, then cue a timeout and restart the game after an obedience break. If he makes the same mistake twice in a row, then end the game for that day, and try again tomorrow.

Helpful Hints
• Teach the dog that he may only take the toy on invitation. Both the presentation of the object and the verbal “Get it” are signals that the game is on. Without the verbal “Get it” the dog may not take the toy, even if it is presented. Up until now, you have consistently
been using the verbal “Get it” each time you gave the toy to your dog.
• Be consistent: make sure that you and whoever else plays with your dog thoroughly know the rules of tug play. Stick the rules on to your refrigerator door if necessary.

Download Get it / Drop it PDF