Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shake, High-Five, Wave

AKA: Paw, How do you do?

Goal: Have the dog give you his front paw

Some dogs are naturally "handsy" and will paw at you when frustrated, this works to our favor when teaching the dog how to offer his paw on cue. Place a high value treat into the palm of you hand, then close your fist and offer it to your dog. It helps if the dog is in a sit, but it's not required. When you dog gets frustrated enough he will paw at your hand. The moment that he hits your hand, click and open your hand to give him the treat. Do this a few more times until he has the routine. Now cue 'shake' then present your hand, click, open and reward. Do this a few more times and then remove the treat from you hand, rewarding with the other hand or going into you pocket to get the treat with the hand he just hit. By saying the cue first, then presenting your hand, you will be able to transfer to a flat hand sooner.

Goal: Have the dog hit your hand with his paw up high

Once you have 'shake' on cue simply switch your hand to the high-five position and using the new cue, old cue technique, ask your dog to 'high-five' followed by 'shake'. Do this for a few repetitions, then just ask for a high-five without the shake cue and see if he does it. If he does then you don't need to continue to pair the cues together.

Goal: Have your dog wave his paw at you

Wave is a 'high-five' with your hand out of reach. Again here we are going to use the new cue, old cue technique. With your hand slightly out of reach cue your dog to 'wave' followed quickly by 'high-five'. Don't be surprised if your dog tries to stretch to meet your hand. If your dog jumps up to meet your hand, then your hand is too high or if he gives up after a few attempts, move your hand closer to make it easier. You may slowly increase the height and distance away from the dog when you no longer need to cue 'high-five' when asking for 'wave'. If you want your dog to be able to do wave on a verbal only add a beat pause between the verbal and the hand signal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Goal: Get the dog to stand between your legs and remain there. The next step to this is moving forward and backward while the dog maintains position.

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and with a treat lure your dog's head behind your leg and through. Try using two hands, use one to lure the dog behind you and the other to get him through your legs. When his head is between your legs, hold your hands at your stomach, making sure to reinforce periodically.

To add movement keep your hands at your stomach and take one step forward or backward. Praise and treat the dog for staying between your legs. If he comes out before being released mark with an 'oops!' or 'uh-oh' and lure him back.

You can add changes in position to make if harder still.

Spin and Twirl

Goal: Get your dog to make a full circle to the right and the left

Like many tricks the dog starts in front of you. With a treat lure the dog's head toward his tail. Be ready to break it down if he bails off the lure. Keep luring until the dog makes a complete circle either to the left or the right. Now try it to the other side.

Each dog has a hard side and an easy side. Put a different name to a turn to the left and a turn to the right to be clear to the dog. You can starting putting a name on it when the dog is consistently doing the turns each way.


Goal: Get you do to jump up onto an object and stay until released

This one is easy as long as you start with objects that are big enough for the dog and low enough to easily get on. When you have found an object that meets this criteria encourage your dog to jump up onto it. Reward the dog, step back a step or two, then return and reward. If your dog jumps down with out being released, simply get him back onto it. This is the only correction the dog will receive. When the dog realizes that you will keep putting him back up there and will only be rewarded for staying there, he will try to jump off less and less.

You can slowly increase the height of the object that you ask your dog to jump on and decrease the size of the landing zone. This is a huge trust behavior and requires a lot of confidence in the dog. Get creative with the objects you ask your dog to jump up on! They make great photo opportunities.

Balance the Bone

Goal: To balance a bone at the end of your dog's nose.

You'll need an evenly balanced treat for this trick. Start with your first two fingers under the dog's collar right under his chin, your thumb and last two fingers on either side of his muzzle. Lightly hold his muzzle still. If your dog fights this position, pause here and feed him until he's comfortable with you holding him like this.

Once your dog in comfortable in this position you may begin to place the bone on his nose. Only ask him to hold it for a short time before releasing your grip on his muzzle so he can get the treat. As your dog begins to understand that holding still is what you want you may slowly release your grip on his muzzle and still have him stay with the bone on his snout.

When you tell him to get the bone use his release word or 'get it'. You may tell your dog to 'stay' while holding the bone. Keep building time and if you want to be a super rockstar you can add the number of bones your dog holds on his nose.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bang! and Rollover

Goal: To have your dog drop his side when "shot"

If your dog is sensitive about hard surfaces begin this one on something soft. With the dog in a down, take a treat from the dog's nose and slowly turn hi head back toward his shoulder. Continue to draw this line back toward his shoulder blade. At this point you should see the dog begin to lean back and start to go onto his side. Keep going until his head is on the ground. This is the 'Bang!' position. Continue to feed to maintain the position, then release.

*Note: Most dogs will favor one side over the other. Go with the dog's natural side.

Goal: To have your dog completely roll over and end up back in the position he started

From the 'Bang!' position continue to lure toward the shoulder. The head and body should follow until the dog is on his other side.

If at anytime the dog pops up, simply begin again. Break it down into small steps if need be.

Stick 'em Up

AKA: Sit Pretty, Beg

Goal: Get your dog to sit up on his hind legs

Make sure your dog is on a non-slip surface to start. Cue dog to sit and with a treat lure straight up and slightly back. Mark and reward when the front feet come off the ground. You may help your dog balance by holding onto his collar or having you dog sit with his back against a wall. Slowly build up duration and height that the front feet come up off the floor.

When you can reliably lure the behavior, add the verbal cue to it. Then fade the food lure.

For fun try asking for a wave while your dog is sitting up or pairing this with a Spread 'em!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun Way to Get Into the Car

Kayla's interpretation of loading up into the car. Only a chocolate, only a chocolate!

Keep training and keep it fun!!


Goal: have your dog wave his/her paw at you

This is a variation on the high five. If your dog has a solid high five you can place your hand up as if to ask for a high five, but keep your hand just out of reach. If your dog won't offer the behavior on hand cue alone you may do what's called 'new cue, old cue'. Raise your hand and cue 'wave' then 'high five' or whatever else your high five word is. Pretty soon your dog will be offering the behavior on the cue 'wave' and you can drop the old cue.

As you progress you can move your hand higher and higher, eventually ending in a standing position and perhaps even adding distance. If the wave begins to go limp, just got back to some close reps and remember to really reward those rockin' waves with special stuff.

Weave Through the Legs

Goal: have the dog weave through your legs as you walk forward

You'll want to use your verbal marker for this one. Having treats in both hands and your dog in front of you, step forward the right leg. With your right hand on the backside of your leg lure your dog's head through your leg. If you've done it right your dog should be on your right side facing the same direction as you. Now repeat with the left leg. Continue repeating this pattern until you run out of space or room.

When your dog is not hesitating to go through your legs you may add you cue and asking for two or three passes before rewarding.

Back Up!

Goal: get your dog to walk backwards

Start with a handful of small treats. They should be small enough so that you can rapid fire feed them. Have your dog in a stand in front of you, put both of your hands together down at your dog's nose level between your legs. Slowly begin to walk into your dog and click and treat (c/t) the moment your dog takes a step back. You should be watching the back feet and clicking for thoses feet moving. As your dog gets better at it you can chain two or three steps together before clicking.

In the mean time, think about the cue and hand signal you want to use. When your dog is beginning to step backwards when you step into them you can fade the food lure and add your word. Keeping your hands in that low position will help the dog as well, just don't have any food in them. Only ask for three or four steps before clicking. As your dog gets faster and faster you can ask for more steps and move your hands to where you want them to end up.

If your dogs begins to fade to one side, step back to recenter and begin again, just ask for fewer steps. Try to always feed in a stand to prevent the falling into a sit.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Flat work

There are three main turns in this game we call Agility, the front cross, the rear cross, and the post turn. When teaching a new dog these fundamental skills it's best to do so without equipment, or on the flat (ground that is). Let's start with the post turn because that's the one that everyone already knows, you just don't realize it yet.

A post turn is a turn 180 deg in the opposite direction. See told you! You do already know it! Everybody learns this neat trick when teaching a dog how to walk nicely on lead. The only change we are going to add is that you practice this with your dog on the left and on the right. I tend to tell my dog "This way!" before turning. It gives the dog a nice little heads up that you're turning and meshes in nicely when out for a nice stroll. I don't use the verbal cue when on the course.

The first of our "walk the line" duo is the front cross. It happens to be the easier of the two. This drill requires that you have food in both hands. One keeps the dog with you, while the other turns the dog. Find a nice long line on the floor to walk along, unless you swear you walk straight, then you can skip it. Start with the dog on the left side, in a loose heel position, and start walking forward - the food in your left hand should keep the dog with you. When you're ready to turn, have your right hand meet your left hand and lure the dog to turn into you, all the while you are turning into the dog. If you've done it correctly your dog should be on your right side focused on the treats in your right hand. The line on the floor is to keep you turning in position, it serves no purpose for the dog. Now repeat to switch the dog to the left side of you. There is so real cue or name for this behavior, but if you feel you need to call it something, call it "switch".

The second of our "walk the line" duo is the rear cross. What makes this one hard is that we have to get the dog to turn away from us as we turn into them. If you happen to notice, the handler turns the same way each times, it's only the dog that changes which way he turns. Set up with food in both hands, dog on the left. Begin walking forward, when you are ready to turn have the right hand meet the left dog and direct his nose away from you and you turn toward the dog. Your dog should now be on your right and you should be setting up to repeat. I tend to call this "flip" because the dog flips out away from you. If your dog does not want to turn, simply break it down into steps. Reward for a head turn, then a neck and one paw, then two, and so on until you have the complete behavior. Make sure to work your dog's hard side more than the easy side, but at the very minimum both side equally.

If at any point you want to make things harder and achieve rock star level, try mixing up which turn you do, then add some speed, and finally some distance. Have fun and happy training!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ready! Steady! Go!

The ready game is our key to a great start line. Not only this, but it helps to teach deceleration and collection cues as well. All you'll need to play this is a smile and a pocket full of cookies.

The dog can start on your left or your right, in a sit, down, or stand. I start with my dog on my left, usually in a sit. When your dog is set, step off with your right foot and take a few steps. You'll want to leave your shoulders open and at an angle towards your dog. This way you can maintain eye contact, while letting your dog know which side to run too. When you ready to unleash the beast, release him with his word and run a few steps forward. Just as he's about to catch up to you stop and reward right down the seam of your pants. Don't fret if he over runs you a little bit, just lure him back to your side and reward. If you want to tighten up the stops, just do it next to the wall for a few reps.

To make this exercise harder increase the distance that you lead out or add a slight curve to your run and don't forget to practice on both sides!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Understanding Place

I will venture to say that the place behvaior is one of the most under used behaviors out there. You'll see traditional leash and collar trainers use this behavior all the time, but the positive folks...not so much. I jsut don't get why!

Let's think about what we could accomplish by teaching our dog to sit or lie down on a spot for a given amount of more door rushing, door bolting, jumping up on guests as the enter, just to name a few. Are you starting to see the potential now??? Some dogs need help with their off button and this is one way to do it.

I love having the chocolate in the kitchen with me, but man o man does she pick the worst places to lie down! She's now got her designated place to be and I don't have to worry about her trying to quickly snatched up the things that I drop - many times they are things that I don't want her to have. No need to try to spit out a leave it before she hoovers that piece of onion. Yep, you guessed it! Place is a don't get off that spot no matter what kinds cue (if you've taught it right).

I've had a lot of fun with my place cue. I will ahve Kay jump up on just about anything that will support her body weight. It's made some great photos for sure! It's also an easy way to teach a stay - you can be very black and white. Helped when Kay was laying down on the long sit for Open Obedience! We have our CDX to prove it!

So next time you hear me talk about the place behavior in class let your mind wander about what nasty little habits this simple like cue can fix...think outside the box. There are tons of basic agility behaviors we use in our day to day life the we tend to overlook.