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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!

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!


We had some more fun practicing longer distance and out-of-sight Recalls with your dogs! A couple reminders about this  Recall behavior:

  • 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 quickly! So work on being the worst at hiding! 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!

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

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 - a park, soccer field, hiking trails, etc.!

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