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canine foundations

week 2 homework


Continue practicing the skills we learned last week - try them out in new locations and slowly increase difficulty level (think about duration, distraction level, and/or distance from distractions):​

  • Home Base behavior (using your mat, bed, blanket, etc.)

  • Introduce and use the clicker

  • Engagement with you

    • Rewarding eye contact or looking at you

    • Capturing the "good" behaviors you like

  • Hand Target

New behaviors / exercises this week (click to jump to instructions)

  • Sit (Butt touching the floor, instructions and tips for success)

  • Down (Chest and belly touching the floor)

  • Recalls (the start of) (Name Game with a little extra distance)

  • Recall Games (Room Dash & Proximity Game)


1) Sit

We did some work with the Sit behavior in class - a behavior that's super useful and helpful for us to see in a variety of situations instead of other mischief!

If you haven't worked on this behavior with your dog yet, the instructions and steps for doing so are below! However, if you have worked on this behavior or are already using a verbal cue (saying Sit) with your dog, teaching the behavior from scratch isn't necessary! Instead, your focus with this behavior over the next week is a little different:

Give your Verbal Cue Once

Your dog doesn't understand our languages, so repeating yourself - repeating what is, essentially, just a noise to your dog - won't help your dog understand that you're looking for their butt to touch the floor or ground. Your verbal cue is not "SitSitSitSIT" - it's just Sit; practice how you'd like your dog to perform - if you want your dog to respond to just Sit, practice giving your cue just one time.

Reward Accuracy

Because Sit is an easy behavior for many humans and dogs, it's an opportunity for us humans to practice our clicker mechanics and catching, precisely, the behavior we like and want - the butt touching the floor! Practice rewarding lots of sits over the next week and in a variety of locations! If, at any point, your dog doesn't offer the behavior or seems not to understand what you're asking for, avoid repeating your verbal cue (as mentioned above) and, instead, offer a couple of hints!

  • If your dog doesn't respond to your verbal cue (Sit), offer your physical cue (a hand or arm gesture or movement to ask for the behavior nonverbally).

  • If the physical cue is still not successful, put a couple of stinky treats in your hand and lure the behavior (put the stinky treats right in front of their nose and lift slightly up and back over your dog's head).

In any case, when their butt touches the floor, click and give your dog a tasty treat!

Teaching the Sit behavior

Step One: Lure the Sit

  • Put a treat in your closed hand and place it right in front of your dog’s nose.

  • Slowly rock your hand back up and over your dog’s head, tipping their head back. As the head goes up and back, the butt usually goes down into the Sit.

  • Click/treat when the butt touches the floor; release your dog by moving to a new spot; and try again! (Keep in mind that, if your dog's butt doesn't touch the floor, you can start by clicking and treating for the things on the way to that seated position).


Step Two: Transition to the physical cue (after 8-10 times successfully luring your dog with a treat in your hand)

  • With an empty hand this time, move your hand up and back over your dog's head (much like you did when luring the behavior).

  • Generally, your dog will follow this hand motion because it's really similar to the luring you were just doing. Click/treat when the butt touches the floor.

  • Move to a new spot and try again!

Step Three: Add the verbal cue (wait to use your verbal cue until you no longer need a treat to prompt the behavior)

  • Say your verbal cue (usually it's Sit in the case, but you can use whatever you'd like).

  • Pause for a small second, then give your physical cue (if you have time).

  • Click/treat when your dog's butt touches the floor.

  • Move to a new spot and try again!

2) Down

Though it may seem like the next natural step after Sitting, the laying down behavior sometimes trips up our dogs! Below are some tips that you may use as you're teaching the behavior to your dog!

  • If you're struggling to get the position in your dog, you have some options to help!

    • Perhaps, begin by clicking and treating for what you can get. For example, if you can't lure your dog all the way into position with the chest and belly touching the floor, you may start by clicking and treating for your dog's head dipping really low; reward your dog for that a couple of times and see if you can slowly look for and ask for a bit more each time until they plop or make their way all the way into a laying position!

    • You might choose to capture the behavior when your dog does it on their own, meaning you can click and treat or simply reward your dog when you see them laying down. Often, the more you capture a behavior, the more likely it is for your dog to offer this behavior when you're luring it some other time!

    • Practice some place comfortable for your dog - a place they are relaxed enough to lay down (their own living room, for example) and a place they may normally lay down (their own bed, the ottoman or couch, your bed, etc.) to help achieve the behavior. Once you can get them doing it there a few times you may try taking it other places 

    • In general, be aware of the surface you're working on. For some dogs, laying down on a slippery, hard tile floor is not ideal or can even be worrisome and they seem to struggle to want to get into position.

  • When you click and offer your dog a treat, place the treat on the floor between your dog's paws to encourage them to stay in the laying position (versus popping up immediately or jumping up to meet the treat in your hand).

  • To encourage your dog to remain in the laying position for longer, you may click and treat several more times in quick succession - as their chest and belly are touching the floor, of course.

Regardless of the tips you use, you can teach this laying down behavior with the same three step process we have other behaviors.

Step One: Lure the Down position

  • Put a treat in your closed hand and place it right in front of your dog’s nose.

  • Slowly rock your hand back up and over your dog’s head to lure them into a Sit (do not ask for a Sit with your verbal cue, though).

  • Move your hand slowly down your dog's chest to the floor in a straight line; as your dog scrunches up, they'll usually relax out into the laying down position (or you may begin slowly pulling your hand away from your dog's chest along the floor in an "L" shape).

  • Click when the chest and belly touch the floor and drop or place a treat on the floor between your dog's paws.

  • Feel free to click/treat a few more times while your dog is down there, too, to let them know you love this position for them!


*As we talked about in class, if you're having trouble luring the chest all the way to the floor, click for what you can get right now! After a few times, click for a little further and a little further and, eventually, your puppy will slide down and you'll be able to click for the chest touching.

Step Two: Transition to the physical cue

  • After 8-10 times successfully luring your dog with a treat in your hand, you're ready to transition to using the physical cue only.

  • With an empty hand this time (but with it looking exactly the same as it did when you were luring the behavior), move your hand up and back over your dog's head and then down to the floor slowly.

  • Generally, your dog will follow this hand motion because it's really similar to the luring you were just doing.

  • Click/treat when the chest touches the floor. Again, drop that treat on the floor and feel free to click and treat a few more times!

  • Move to a new spot and try again!


​​​​​​Step Three: Add the verbal cue

  • Beginning this step means you no longer need a treat in your hand to achieve the laying down position and your dog is responding quickly and consistently to the physical cue! If your dog isn't there yet, no worries - keep working at Steps One and Two before moving on!

  • If you're ready to add your verbal cue, get your dog's attention (if you don't already have it).

  • Say your verbal cue (whatever word you'd like to use consistently - Down, Floor, Lay, Settle, Chill, Relax, Plop, Splat, Blueberry, etc.)

  • Give your physical cue - whatever that looks like for you and your dog.

  • Click/treat when your dog's chest touches the floor.

  • Feel free to click/treat a few more times while they're on the floor!

  • Move to a new spot and try again!

Note: When it comes time to add your verbal cue, if you're using the word "Down" somewhere else around your house to ask your dog for another behavior (get off the furniture, don't jump on the counter, get your feet off of the kids or grandma, you don't belong on the bed, etc.), you will likely want to choose a different word for this "chest and belly touching the floor" behavior. Two different behaviors means we want two different cues for your dog so that we can be clear about what we're looking for from our doggos!

3) Recall (Coming When Called)
A strong and reliable Recall is a very important skill to teach your dog; when teaching and practicing a Recall cue with your dog, there are a few rules or guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Always use a happy, enthusiastic, fun tone of voice when calling - even when you’re mad and late for work or your dog has run into the road!

  • Throw a HUGE party every time your dog comes to you – let your dog know they’re the best dog in the whole world just for coming when called. This means we give one, two, maybe three treats; we give all the pets, all the praise; use the baby voice if that’s what your dog is into; chest scratches, ear scratches, belly rubs – your dog has earned it all!

  • Make hooking a finger under your dog’s collar or harness part of the party; this helps your dog see it as a totally normal thing that’s comfortable and just part of the party – instead of something to shy away from.

  • As with other behaviors we've been working on, start out in a very low-distraction environment (like your living room); this sets your dog up for success, which will strengthen the cue and the behavior!


With those rules/guidelines in mind, let’s begin working! The Recall cue can be divided up into a few bite-sized exercises that help put the whole behavior into easy pieces for you and your dog.


Step One: Name Game - last week


Step Two: Adding Distance to the Name Game

  • Say your dog’s name (1 time).

  • When your dog looks at you, click and, instead of just handing them the treat, your dog needs to come all the way to you for the reward. You may even take a few steps backward to encourage your dog to come to you to get the reward.

  • When your dog gets to you, throw your dog a little party, so your dog learns that racing to you gets lots of good stuff (good treats and several of them, pets, baby voice, a toy, ear scratches, belly rubs, etc.).


4) Recall Games
Recall games are designed to work on your skills being fun and exciting and interesting and, therefore, more attractive to your dog than other things in their environment!


Room Dash

  • Choose a safe spot to practice - between two rooms, two spots in the yard, etc. - where there won't be distractions (other people or other dogs or critters around).

  • Distract your dog by placing some food in one of the rooms or in one spot of the yard.

  • As they're eating the food, dash to the other room or around the corner of the house or yard and call your dog to you with your Recall cue. Make yourself scarce, but desirable by making fun noises and being something to chase! We're looking for your dog to hunt you down and actively start searching for you!

  • Throw a fun party when your dog gets to you - treats, food, toys, petting, praise, whatever your dog likes! (Make the party an experience; don't just hand the food over to your dog!)

Proximity Game

  • We're teaching your dog (or reminding them) that there is benefit in following us and hanging around us (being in our proximity)! The zone or bubble around you - about the length of your arm - is a great place to be!

  • Essentially, give treats for being next to you, in front of you, behind you, around you - anywhere within arm's reach.

  • You don't have to feed at every opportunity, but keep it fun - add a spin or moving through your legs, etc. and make it a fun experience to receive food near you!

  • Don't worry about if your dog disengages and moves away - you will have the opportunity to reward them for coming back and choosing you over everything else! Looking for a dog that wants to hang out with you and that you find it difficult to get away from!

Recall Gams
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