canine foundations
week 4 homework

Go to your Mat

Step One: Treat Toss Game - last week

Step Two: Adding the mat - last week

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!

Mat Work - With Verbal Cue


Step One: Lure the Down position - last week

Step Two: Transition to the physical cue - last week

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 (usually it's Down with this behavior, but use whatever you'd like and definitely use a different word if "Down" means something else at home).

  • 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!

Down - With Verbal Cue

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!

Leave It - Phase I

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!

Leash Walking Skills


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Phone: (414) 207-8060

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Dog Training in Milwaukee, WI