top of page

canine foundations
week 4 homework


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

  • Go to your Mat (bed/blanket, etc.)

  • Leave It: Phase I

  • Sit

  • Down

  • Recalls

  • Recall Games - Room Dash & Proximity Game

  • 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)


1) Go to your Mat

Step One: Luring the behavior - last week

Step Two: Physical Cue

  • Unlike last week or Step One, we'll be asking for this behavior with an empty hand in this step - just our physical cue.

  • Using the same, sweeping hand/arm motion as last week (though, this time, with an empty hand), direct your dog to their mat/bed/blanket.

  • Click for your dog stepping even a single paw on the mat/bed/blanket and give them a treat from your pouch, pocket, the counter next to you, etc. (since there are no treats in your hand to lure them there).

  • 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)!

Step Three: Adding the Verbal Cue

  • When your dog is consistently moving to their mat with the sweeping arm motion you’re using (physical cue), you’re ready to add the verbal cue. Some examples of a verbal cue for this behavior are below:

    • “Go to your mat”

    • “Go to bed”

    • “Go home”

    • “Go to your place”

  • To add the verbal cue, simply say your dog’s name or get their attention.

  • Say your verbal cue, for example, “Ruby, go to bed”

  • Perform the now-familiar sweeping arm motion.

  • Click/treat for your dog stepping on their mat and continue to click/treat for other behaviors you like to see on the mat (as we've done over the past couple of weeks).

  • After some time (multiple clicks and treats), invite your dog off of their mat or, optionally, you can use a Release cue to let them know when they can leave the mat, go do their own thing (examples below); make sure that your dog does actually move away, since the Release cue is a cue for a behavior just like sending them to their mat is a cue!

    • "Ok"​

    • "All done"

    • "Free"

    • "Release"

  • Try again in a new spot!

As mentioned in class, I'd like us to work on increasing the amount of time your dog hangs out at the mat; instead of leaving after a couple seconds on their own or giving the Release cue after a couple clicks, extend the amount of time your dog is on their mat by clicking and treating more or putting some extra time between each click/treat!

Got to mt 2

2) Leash Walking Skills

Your dog pulls on the leash because it is a rewarding behavior: pulling hard gets them right up to the tree they want to sniff or whatever it is they want to explore.

Tips for a better walking experience:

  • Start out in a very low-distraction environment.

  • The type of collar or harness can make a difference in the amount your dog pulls on the leash, but the equipment you use does not train your dog - you do! I recommend the following harnesses:

  • Don’t be stingy with the treats! Being generous will keep your dog’s focus on you and teach them that sticking by your side ain’t such a bad thing!

  • Walking next to us humans at our slooooow pace is a lot to ask of a dog. They're not usually getting a lot of physical exercise from it either, so be sure to focus on the mental enrichment and exercise they can get out of it (read as: let them sniff! They don't need to be next to you or even close to you most of the time).

  • These skills are not learned overnight! It takes a lot of practice and may not be “perfected” for a long time, so be patient and practice lots!


Little did you know, we've already been working on a couple exercises that can greatly improve your walking experience with your puppy or dog!

  • Rewarding eye contact/engagement

    • Any time your dog pays attention to you, reward them (with a click and treat or just a treat)!

    • Where you reward your dog plays a big part in loosening that leash, so offer the treat close to your body or, if you prefer your dog to be on one side or another, offer the treat on a particular side (close to the body or even on the ground).

  • 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!

Overall, there's no magic wand, but, if there were, it would be this: reward what you want the walk to look like - reward the positions you like your dog to be in; reward where you like them to be; reward any time they're engaged and paying attention to you. The more you reward, the more you see it!


3) Recalls

We had some more fun practicing Recalls in class this week! Over the coming week, start practicing longer distance and out-of-sight or Hide & Seek-style Recalls with your dogs!


A couple reminders:

  • If you're to the point of practicing longer distance Recalls, you should be able to grab your dog's attention with their name; when they look at you, turn your direction, or start heading your way, THEN give your Recall cue. Obviously, some faith is required when you give your Recall cue during Hide & Seek Recalls because you both cannot see each other (but that leads to my second reminder - below).

  • Always remember that your goal is for your dog to find you and get to you - and quickly! Work on being the worst at hiding and the most exciting thing in your dog's environment (more challenging that it sounds)! Keep practicing being super exciting and interesting and fun, so your dog is very excited to come looking for you and other distractions aren't nearly as tempting as you are!

  • Remember, as well, that you can use absolutely any noises or words to reel your dog in and be exciting, interesting, and fun - try your best not to repeat their name or your Recall cue, though! Use the things we've practiced (noises and movement) in our Recall Games to your advantage!

Where can you practice your Recalls without the manufactured environment of the daycare/class? Lots of places!

  • A fenced-in backyard (your own, a friend's, a family member's, or neighbor's)

  • The small dog section of a dog park (of course, when it's not busy)

  • A baseball diamond or tennis court

  • ​If you don't have access to or don't want to take your dog to any of the above fenced-in areas, you still have options! I very much recommend investing in a long line to take your dog to any open space:

    • Your own yard

    • Parks

    • Soccer fields or open fields

    • Hiking trails

    • The nearby wide boulevards or cul-de-sacs

The possibilities are endless and I encourage you to get practice anywhere and everywhere! Make it a goal, at the very least to practice a couple of Recalls every time your dog is on leash or outside!

bottom of page