canine foundations

week 3 homework

Go to your Mat Behavior

I'm a fan of using our dog's mat/bed/blanket as a home base, as we've talked about before; it's a place we can encourage our dog to utilize when they aren't sure what to do or where to go, a place that's comfortable and secure and off to the side, and a place that is rewarding for them to be. With that said, we can also utilize a cue to send our dog to their mat (to get them out of the way or to remind them where they can go at that moment).


Step One: Treat Drop Game

  • First, it may be beneficial to teach your dog that your hand/arm is worth following and is providing them information about the direction they should go.

  • With a treat or small handful of treats in your hand, say your dog’s name and, using a wide, exaggerated hand/arm motion that is attention-grabbing to your dog, slowly swing your pointed finger past your dog's nose and to a random spot on the floor.

  • As your dog gets to the spot you're pointing to, click, then drop a treat.

  • Move your arm a new direction, repeating the exaggerated arm sweep, and clicking/treating as your dog gets to the spot you're pointing to.

  • Repeat a few times and, when your dog is following your hand quickly and consistently, you're ready to add the mat/bed/blanket into the mix.

Tip: It is often helpful to start this with your hand at about your dog's head height or lower, so it's extra easy to follow!

Step Two: Adding the mat

  • As before, put some treats in your hand, get your dog's attention, and, with the same arm motion you were using in the Treat Toss Game, point your finger at the very center of your dog's mat/bed/blanket.

  • Instead of clicking and treating for simply following your hand, click for your dog stepping even a single paw on the mat/bed/blanket.

  • Wait a few moments to see what your dog chooses to offer and continue clicking and treating for things you like to see - stepping all four paws on the mat/bed/blanket, standing quietly, sitting, laying, quietly looking around, etc.!

  • Click/Treat for at least five things you like to see, so your dog is actually spending some time on the mat/bed/blanket before you encourage them to move away.

  • Invite your dog off of their mat/bed/blanket and try again (maybe even move your mat/bed/blanket to a new spot)!

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 - Week 1

Step Two: Adding Distance to the Name Game - last week

Step Three: Adding a Verbal Recall Cue

  • In this step, put together all that we've learned with the Name Game and Recall Games we've played over the past couple of weeks, sticking your Recall cue right in the middle of your practice.

  • Say your dog’s name and click when they look at you (same as we've practiced in Steps One and Two).

  • As your dog is headed your way to collect their treat/reward, give the verbal Recall cue you’ve chosen. (“Come” or “Here” are common, but this can be whatever you want!). If your dog is already headed your way when you give the cue, you’re both very likely to be successful!

  • When your dog gets to you, throw a party!

  • Send your dog back to play or continue whatever they were doing after the party.

  • Practice this several times a day, every day!

Tip: If you aren’t sure the Recall cue will work, don’t use it. We want every time we practice the cue to be successful, so that the cue is successful in an emergency. Think of it as putting a $50 bet down on your dog; if you don’t think you can slap a fifty-dollar bill down on the table and say, “My dog is going to come to me right now,” then don’t use the cue. There are plenty of other ways to get your dog to come to you that don’t involve their name or the Recall cue you’ve chosen!

Leave It: Phase I

When you cue your dog with a Leave It, you are looking for eye contact; if we have eye contact, your dog isn’t eating roadkill off the street; they’re not barking at the dog across the way; and you’re able to ask them for something else OR move away from the roadkill or the dog, etc.

 

We teach your dog the Leave It cue in much the same way as teaching them their name. They don’t know English, so we’re teaching them that the sound we know as “Leave It” is important and it means, “I want to see your eyes.”

  • Like the Name Game, give the Leave It cue one time (or whatever verbal cue you have chosen).

  • Pause for a couple seconds; if you do not get eye contact from your dog, make a small noise to grab their attention:

    • Kissy noises, whistles, high-pitched non-words are all good options.

    • Do not repeat your Leave It cue.

  • When you see your dog’s eyes, click/treat.

  • Rinse and repeat in a variety of different scenarios and at a variety of different times. Again, be mindful of giving the cue at times your dog is still likely to offer eye contact, so you're both successful! Keep it on easy mode for your dog over the next week - we'll be making it more difficult, but want to start out super easy and with lots of success!