canine foundations
week 6 homework

*Review the homework from the previous weeks of class for videos of each of the exercises we practiced on week 6!

Leave It

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. 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 keeping two things in mind:

  1. Give your cue as soon as possible (as soon as your dog notices something or even before that).

  2. Keep your feet moving (specifically, move your feet away from the thing of interest).

 

Practicing both of these will make it easier for your dog to offer eye contact to you, which means you have more opportunities to reward your dog and you're creating a stronger habit in your dog (that makes it easier to get this behavior with the really tempting things!)!

Leash Walking Skills

Reminder of tips for a better walking experience:

  • Start out in a very low-distraction environment.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

 

Below are reminders of the games or exercises that you may play or use on your walks to make it easier to find and reward the behaviors you'd like to see:

  • 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!

  • You may also try playing the Look at That (LAT) Game - this involves rewarding your dog for looking at something they think is distracting; instead of "see a dog (or distraction) and pull toward it," we're looking to change it to "see a dog and get a treat from me." The game allows us to start teaching an entirely different behavior in response to a distraction (or trigger).

    • When your dog looks at the trigger (whatever it is), click and then offer a treat.

    • When your dog looks at the trigger again, click and treat again.

    • Rinse and repeat.

Recalls

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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