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canine foundations
week 5 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):​

  • Leash Walking Skills - Rewarding engagement & Proximity Game

  • 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) Drop It
Sometimes we’re a little too late giving the Leave It cue (or the cue didn’t work) and we need to take something away from our dog (we left something out or we don't want them to finish a long-lasting chew in one sitting). Instead of making it a game of tug or chase (or an even worse situation), teach your dog to drop things – and, better yet, that spitting something out is a GOOD thing!

Option 1: You approach your dog.

  • While your dog is lightly playing with a toy, calmly approach your dog with a small handful of delicious treats.

  • When your dog notices you coming and looks up at you (even if they haven’t, yet, dropped the toy), scatter your handful of treats a couple of feet off to the side of your dog.

  • Ideally, your dog drops the toy to go clean up the scattering of treats; if that’s the case, pick up the toy and wait for your dog to finish cleaning up.

  • When your dog is finished, hand the toy back to your dog and calmly walk away.

  • After a few moments, your dog will likely go back to playing with the toy (instead of bothering you for more treats). With another small handful of treats prepared, calmly approach your dog again.

  • This time, when your dog looks up at you, they may anticipate that you’ve got a handful of treats and drop the toy. After they drop the toy, scatter your handful of treats a couple of feet off to the side of your dog.

  • Pick up the toy as before and hand it back to your dog after they’ve finished cleaning up the treats.


Over time, as you’re practicing this, your dog will begin to anticipate your approach as a signal of treats to come and will likely be spitting their toy out quickly and consistently! When that is happening, you’re ready to add the verbal cue to the behavior:

  • While your dog is playing with a toy, calmly approach your dog with a small handful of treats and say, “Drop It,” (or whatever verbal cue you’d like to use – Drop, Out, Give, Trade, Exchange).

  • In anticipation of the scattering of treats, your dog should be readily looking up at you and dropping the toy; after they drop the toy, scatter your handful of treats a couple of feet off to the side of your dog.

  • Pick up the toy as before and hand it back to your dog after they’ve finished cleaning up the treats.


Option #2: Your dog comes to you.

If your dog is in the habit of running away from you or hiding when they have a "prize" or something you want from them, get in the habit of having them come to you instead!

  • Make a ruckus in another room (similar to our Hide & Seek Recalls)!

  • Use noises familiar to your dog (like the fridge door, the crinkle of a treat bag or bag of shredded cheese, etc.) to get them running to you for good stuff and dropping/forgetting about the "prize" they had a moment earlier.

  • You may even use a trail of treats if you really needed to or couldn't get close to your dog without them trying to scoot away!

Drop It Tips:

  • Think of the Drop It behavior as a trade with your dog: they drop something to trade up for the tasty, smelly treats you have to offer them.

  • We always scatter the handful of treats a couple or a few feet away from where the dog currently is playing with the toy, so that they have to move away to go get the treats and there are multiple treats to clean up; this gives us the time and space we need to pick up or clean up the item(s) we asked them to drop.

  • The vast majority of the time, we want to practice Drop It with a toy or something that can be returned to your dog. We want them to think that not only is this Drop It a sweet trade (for delicious treats), but they also get the dropped item back to keep playing!

  • Practice your Drop It at least a couple times a day every day with your dog.

2) Leave It (Phase II)

As you're continuing your Leave It practice, work on increasing difficulty slowly. If it doesn't appear that your dog has any reaction to the Leave It cue (they do not look at you in an easy, low-distraction environment), keep it on easy mode before working in more difficult environments:

  • Practice in the home until you're consistently able to click/treat for eye contact.

  • Then move outside to a familiar outdoor area; again, wait to move on until you're consistently able to click/treat for eye contact.

  • Begin offering the Leave It cue on walks (when your dog is not distracted or it would be fairly easy for them to offer you eye contact).


As you start introducing more distractions and in a variety of scenarios, you may begin using the Leave It cue with actual "temptations"! I put that in quotes because I encourage you to practice a lot with things that don't matter and with things your dog is not actually that interested in - a tree, a fire hydrant, a leaf on the sidewalk, something your dog only glances at (instead of gets glued to).

While practicing, we talked about practicing two skills (skills for the human end of the leash): give your Leave It cue as soon as possible (as soon as your dog notices something or even before that) and keep your feet moving (specifically, move your feet away from the thing of interest):

  • If your dog has already tunnel-visioned in on something tempting, the chances you'll get their eyes are pretty slim!

  • The sooner you give the cue, the easier it will be for your dog to offer eye contact and the easier it will be to avoid the thing you're pretty sure they wanted.

  • We don’t stop right in front of the thing we want left alone – why hang out next to the dead squirrel?

  • We don’t slow down to see if your dog will notice the thing – if they don’t see it, they don’t see it and everyone is happy.

  • And we don’t stop at a point that allows your dog to tunnel-vision in on something we don’t want them to have.


So, give your cue early and keep your feet moving; make it easy for your dog to offer you the eye contact you're looking to click/treat for!

Dro t
Lev it

3) Leash Walking Skills: 1-2-3 Walking Pattern Game

Pattern games are a repetitive, predictable framework of cues and behaviors that helps a dog process the environment – patterns weave a safety net of predictability and expected behaviors into an unexpected, uncomfortable, or unpredictable situation. Patterns are all of the following:

  • Safe

  • Predictable

  • Repetitive

  • A natural part of learning (patterns make learning easier and faster)

  • Normalizing – a dog can process the environment from the safety of the familiar pattern

This pattern game helps you and your dog get from point A to point B and with less pressure than a cue for walking or in a situation where attention is cued. As mentioned with patterns above, this treat walking game allows a dog to notice their environment from the safety and comfort of the pattern.

This is a simple pattern game you can use anywhere at any time and with any dog – almost zero prep work is needed!

  • Take three steps.

  • Count out loud as you do so.

  • When you say “Three,” give your dog a treat.


You can use any three sounds if you prefer not to count (A-B-C, X-Y-Z, Tim-Tam-Tom); it doesn’t matter! Just three words and hand a treat out.

Some dogs may stay close by; other dogs might move around some or wander off or simply be too excited to catch on that the third sound equals treats. If that seems to be the case, you may start the game standing still and with a handful of stinky treats right in front of your dog’s nose; each time you get to the third sound, open your hand.

Resist the urge to call your dog to you, pat your leg, or pull them to you with their leash; this game is about teaching your dog an association – not telling them what to do.

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