Obstacles & Sounds

What is it? 

This is where your dog turns his head to look at you when he hears you say his name. You can use it as a precursor to another cue, (e.g. Rover, Come!) but all the name means is “turn your head and look at me”.

Why is it an important skill? 

Many owners overuse their dog’s names, and so the dog starts to ignore it because it has become white noise to them. Also, some owners will use their dog’s name in an angry tone of voice, so that the dog begins to associate his name with punishment. When you are feeling angry or frustrated, then you should rather use a nickname for the dog, because this allows you to burn out names without ever spoiling his real name.

How to teach it?

  1. Start by dropping a treat to the ground behind the dog. As soon as the dog finishes eating the treat, say his name. Mark (click or say “yes”) as soon as his head turns towards you, and toss the new treat to the ground behind your dog. Repeat many times over.
  2. At home, whenever you say your dog’s name, pair it with a treat so that the dog learns to pay attention to you whenever you say his name. Use nicknames for all the more casual situations.

What is it? 

“Leave it” is where you puppy learns that “you see that thing over there? Well, you are not to pick that up”. In contrast, “Drop it” is used to tell your puppy, “that thing you have in your mouth? Well, please spit it out.” Today we’ll focus on teaching “leave it”.

Why is it an important skill? 

Because we don't like our dogs eating deer poop, goose poop, their own poop, the medicine tablet you just dropped on the ground, the chicken breast that just slipped off your plate onto the floor, the neighbor, the neighbor’s dog or that child’s ice-cream.

How to teach it?

  1. Start by holding a treat in your closed fist. Present your fist to your puppy, and he will likely try to get at the treat inside your hand. Eventually he will give up, and the instant that he turns his head away, you should mark and reward him with a different treat. Repeat until you see that your dog understands that he needs to give up the treat in order to get the treat.
  2. Repeat, but gradually build up the duration to 5 seconds of your puppy not trying to get at the treat, with the treat still being held inside your closed fist.
  3. Then open your hand so that the treat is lying on the palm of your hand. Present your hand just above nose height, and mark and reward the instant our puppy turns his nose away from your hand. If your puppy tries to go for the treat, simply close your fist, but do not pull your hand away.
  4. Repeat this step with the open palm, but now build up to a duration of 5 seconds of holding the treat in your open palm with your puppy not trying to get at the treat.
  5. Once your puppy clearly understands that he cannot have the treat, start to add the verbal cue “Leave it” as you present your hand.
  6. Then lower your hand to the ground, leaving the treat resting on your palm, and your knuckles resting on the ground.
  7. Then place the treat on the actual ground but be ready to cover it with your hand.
  8. Finally stand up straight, leaving the treat on the floor. Be ready to cover the treat with your foot if your puppy goes for it.
  9. Note: we do not expect you to complete all of these steps in Puppy class, but take it as far as you can. We will teach this skill again in the Adult Pet Manners class with much more rigor. Here we are just getting started. Just introducing the concept that your puppy has to “give up the treat to get the treat” is good.

What is it? 

This is where you hide a treat or toy (or yourself) around the house, and then ask your dog to go “Find it”.

Why is it an important skill? 

This game gives our dogs an outlet for their exploratory behavior. It’s an excellent way of using your dog’s fantastic nose skills, and also tires out his mind. It’s great as a rainy day activity to play indoors with your dog. And, if he shows that he really loves this game, then you might want to consider enrolling him into some fun nose or scent work classes. And most dogs love this game!

If you have multiple dogs in the household, then please start this game with just one dog at a time. When first teaching this game, start with some delicious and strong smelling food such as small bits of cheese, ham or bacon.

How to teach it?

  1. The first few times that you play this game, allow your dog to see you “hiding” the treats around the room. Place at least 10 treats in areas that your dog can reach on or near the floor, for example, behind a table or chair leg, on a ledge, behind a flowerpot, behind a door. Whilst you’re putting out the treats, have somebody holding your dog still so that he cannot immediately swoop down and hoover up the treats. You can also put him behind a barrier or into a crate if you don't have somebody available who can help hold the dog.
  2. Once all the treats have been placed, release your dog with the cue “Find it” and let him go and gobble up all the treats. Don't help him find the treats – his nose is far better than you think, he just needs to learn to use it!
  • As your dog gets more used to this game, you can make your hiding places less obvious. 
  • You should not let the dog observe you whilst you’re hiding the treats.