Board & Train: April 2018


  • Very well crate trained 
    • However seems to have increased stressed being away from home; eating very little and peeing and pooping especially when crated
    • Since she does not whine and bark to go out it appears to be a "panic" behavior where even though she may have just went to the bathroom outdoors, she needs to go again
    • I crated her incrementally and worked crate games, but the incremental crating while you are physically home is what will break this attachment habit - if it is stemming from being away from you (which is seems it is possible). If you have been feeding more raw vs. kibble at home this may also play a role
  • Nice socialization behaviors with others
    • Gets along very well with other dogs and is a bit on the submissive side with larger dogs, even if they are not overwhelming (just wanting to sniff her). This is OK.
    • Her confidence should build as she socializes more and it will be important to continue to keep her valuing the human more than other dogs - son continuing to reward to her attention to me (if she would take the food) 
  • Collar grabs
    • Her recall got better and better as her time here increased, however she does not always like to come and wanted to be chased instead
    • Working collar grabs (an initial drill) will help substantially so when someone bends down or reaches down to grab her collar she does not think it is a game 
  • Reminder
    • If some of these behaviors seem very "off" from your experiences at home, remember she is in a new environment around new dogs with new smells. All dogs are generally going to be most comfortable in their home environment. This has been the case with her and a lot of her skills (sits, down, etc) as she does not always take the food or is as eager about it as she sounds to get at home. This is fine and a benefit to working dogs in two places with a new person. 

Continue working the skills below very diligently until you feel they are at the point where you would consider them to be strong and reliable in your home environment. 

If she is getting her sits very well, then start reducing your reinforcement. You can do this a couple of different ways:

1. remove food from your body and place it on a table or counter next to you. when she performs the cued skill, walk over to where the food is and give her a treat. the food will move farther and farther from you eventually

2. set up a pattern of reinforcement. example "sit" - and treat. "sit" - and treat. "sit" -- this time just praise. so reward 2 sits with food, and the 3rd just praise. you can then switch up this pattern.

My particular environment continues to be very distracting, so I can only get a couple good minutes at a time during a session. I have also been exposing her to elements outside - and being that it is windy today, things are a bit more startling. 

Skills to be working on:

  1. Sit
    1. This means with food on you, and food off your body, perhaps next to you on a table
  2. Sit in Heel (on your side)
    1. Feeding consistently on your side right now
  3. Down
    1. This means with food on you (BUT NOT LURING), and food off your body, perhaps next to you on a table
  4. Down in Heel
    1. Feeding consistently in the down on your side
  5. Release Cue "OK"
    1. Each time you are releasing her to move (out of crate, out of door, out of a sit, out of a down, etc)
  6. Toy Play
    1. Working a friendly game of tug telling her to "GET IT" and "GIVE IT"  -- you can trade for a treat to ask for it back
  7. Impulse Control
    1. Food from your hand, and on the floor. If she goes for it your hand closes or treats are covered. This will eventually allow you to work with food and distractions on the floor without her going for them. It will also allow you to drop food off your counter without her running after it. It will let her know you will feed it or release her to it. 
  8. Hand Touch
    1. This will be used as a fun focus/reward game and also moving into heel when the food is reduced
  9. Luring into Heel
    1. She would not follow the food into heel for me at this stage, but perhaps she will for you. If you can move her into heel by luring her to your side that would be great. Eventually we will want her to get a strong tuck position next to your side
  10. Surface Exposure
    1. Rewarding her for getting on and off surfaces
    2. This will cue into a "paws up" or a "spot" (back feet) cue 
  11. Continue to ignore behaviors you do not want (jumping, whining, barking, excessive excitement, leash pulling, etc

I tried some shaping drills with her today (to touch odd objects, but she is just not there yet with me. We have enough foundational skills to build on I would like to ensure we have all the above skills before moving to quickly as the foundational behaviors help as we progress into more complex behaviors or skills. 

If you have the ability to work your recall inside (someone holds her back, the other one calls), that is also a great drill for her learning to come to you and the value it has. 

If you are able to update me on your progress with the reliability of the above skills, that will be helpful as we progress. Dog do not generalize so just because she has a great skill at your house - does not mean it will be the same for me and vice versa. I am not sure how much time realistically you are able to pull her aside for 2-5 minute drills per day - but if you have enough to run through a couple of drills for 30 seconds each, and then another session or two with the additional ones she should have the above skills within 1 week or so. Then we can work on proofing the skills and adding distance, distractions and duration. 

Daycare: Monday 3/19


  • Lucy does not bolt out of her crate here (generally she wants to stay in), but at your home if she is trying to walk out without holding a sit (and waiting for your release "OK" ) remember to close the door on her until you release her with "OK"
  • Since she now has and understands a sit, I would start requiring (asking) or waiting for her to offer it:
    • before she exits and doors (crate, car, house, etc...she must be released with OK)
    • before she gets pet (may be over-facing her if too distracted right now, but would rather see an attempt and not get pet than not trying at all
    • putting her leash on
  • Now that she is getting her down, I would make sure you are saying your command ONCE with and without a hand signal to see if you understands the word or the signal. Then you are start giving the cue from all different angles and scenarios (standing, sitting, back turned, etc)
  • Make sure you are NOT MOVING AT ALL if there is a tight leash. If you do, you are teaching her to pull. Stand in a designated spot to go potty and make sure you stand still if she pulls. Loose leash = move. This is the EASIEST way to teach loose leash without actually having to teach it once it becomes a problem down the line when the dog is bigger and stronger
  • Do not buy in or address jumping in any way (no eye contact, no verbal correction etc. Simply just IGNORE). If you ignore this behavior, it will extinguish. If you feed into it now, you will teach her to jump. Simply just walk away - or redirect her to her crate or elsewhere and be as neutral as possible. 


Set Yourself Up For Success!

  • I would encourage as many sessions as possible per day 3-5 minutes in length
  • Strong focus on foundations. Once initial behaviors are understood it is time to strengthen those behaviors by adding distance, distraction, duration. Do not move too fast! 
  • Set the standard NOW so you do not have to fix re-train or train it later. 

Toy Play

Surface Exposure & Front/Rear End Awareness

In addition to the exercises below, I would also be making sure you are releasing her out of her crate (and crating incrementally while you are home), not just allowing her to walk out when the door opens. You will want a "go to your crate" on cue and the more you practice the crate games the fast you can achieve that. If you need a refresher on some of these items, please look below to my initial posting for sample videos and information on that specific skill. I would recommend as many 2-3 minute sessions as possible throughout the day

Assignment: work on different surfaces to see if Lucy offers climbing up on them (do not lure). This will help us with shaping exercises where she needs to figure things out on her own without being told or lured into position. 


Eventually the drill will progress as she gets older and we will want eye contact before the reward comes to she does not to continue to think staring at food is what gets rewarded. We also want to be able to test her in real life and drop things while we are standing up, not while we are sitting on the ground with the dogs. This is a GREAT drill for so many things.

  • crate games & release cue
  • surface exposure
  • it's your choice (impulse control)
  • sit (can also work the sit on your side by luring to heel, will have demo in coming weeks with her)
  • down
  • charging your marking word or clicker
  • hand touch

Congrats on your new puppy! You have the ability to decide right now the behaviors you want your puppy to learn or develop by what you allow and what you do not allow.

Things to think about from the very beginning:

  • When the leash is tight do you move; teaching your puppy from the get-go to pull on the leash?
  • Do you walk all over trying to get your puppy to go to the bathroom or do you just give the radius of the leash?
  • Do you close the crate door to teach a stay/wait or do you let your puppy bolt out?
  • When your puppy scratches at your legs for attention do you feed into the jumping; teaching your dog to jump?
  • When your puppy barks or whines do you verbalize or comment back; teaching the dog that barking and whining gets her what she wants?
  • Will the puppy go on furniture?
  • Are you picking up the pup's meals when she does not eat within 5-10 minutes?
  • Are you making her be calm or requiring a sit before people say hello or want to pet her?
  • Do you make the puppy act polite and under control before petting or praising?
  • Are you desensitizing the puppy to your grooming supplies and all of the odd sounds?

These are just a few of the items to think about. Most of what will take place in the first few of weeks of training will be basic foundations such as familiarizing the puppy with touch (touching paws, ears, nails, tail, etc), collar grabs, potty training, engagement, trading objects, learning her name...and much more. 

Potty Training & Crate Games & The Beginning of Life

  • Start getting to know your pup's potty schedule (it won't be perfect right away)
  • If you are not ACTIVELY SUPERVISING or interacting with Lucy, she should be in her crate (this is VERY IMPORTANT to crate her while you are physically home to start building confidence and independence to make sure your dog does not develop separation anxiety)
  • She should always go straight from her crate, outside to potty
  • If she fails to potty, she should return to her crate (you decide for how long and when you will give it another go
  • Time out of crate = reward for going potty outside


Before you begin training, it is important to understand the foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship. Teaching behaviors and cues is a lot easier when a dog is willing and enthusiastic to participate with you. Your training should be force-free with a strong focus on foundational skills.

  • Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
  • Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess.
  • If you expect something, then expect it every time you ask for it.
  • Think about treats in terms of ‘units of a reward’ for effort.
  • Remember repetition, NOT duration. Five 1-minutes sessions can be better than one 5-minute session.
  • Mark for action, feed for position.
  • Name a perfect behavior, not an imperfect behavior. Get the quality you want before you tell the dog what it is called.
  • Work on generalization to work on getting the behavior to happen in a variety of environments and situations.
  • The challenge level should always be that in which your dog can succeed.

Ask your dog what they are capable of doing. Over-facing our dogs by putting demands on them that they cannot possibly meet will not only mean we make no progress towards our training goals, but it will erode a dog’s confidence and enjoyment of working with us.

Perfection is not a permanent condition. The more criteria, the more maintenance.

It is important to think about the behavior you are training and the tools you may need. Are you "marking" for the behavior and feeding for position? Are you working a release and can utilize tugging when your dog gets up?

What motivates your dog?

  1. Food (what is the least your puppy or dog will work for?)
  2. Toys!
  3. Verbal Praise
  4. Petting

In what order are your rewards most valuable?

  • What does the dog like least?
  • What does the dog like most?
  • What types of behaviors require certain rewards? Ex. placement of rewards and marking for position, calm behaviors vs. high drive
  • What environment are you training in which may require a more valuable reward or motivator?


Recommended Skills for Training to Start With:

  • Housebreaking (generally for new puppies)
  • Crate training/waiting at a crate door, house door, gate door
  • Addressing separation anxiety, attachment and independence/confidence
  • Exposure to noises and the real world/surface exposure
  • Touch sensitivity & collar grabs
  • Marker word/clicker training
  • Learning name, focus, engagement
  • Addressing barking
  • Recall or "come" 
  • Impulse control/leave it
  • Resource guarding/trading objects/"give"
  • Sits & downs
  • Release cues
  • Hand touches & touching objects
  • Heeling & walking
  • Stay
  • Shaping (sending to bed/mat)
  • Socialization
  • Addressing jumping
  • Addressing play biting/mouthing
  • Proofing

Owner's Requested Skills:

*Please note some of the skills requested may require additional skills or behaviors BEFORE achieving a specific skill or behavior requested

  •  Puppy Training


Keep in mind when you are teaching a behavior, skill, or cue  you must build upon that skill adding elements in such as:

  1. Distance - how far away can you be and ask for that behavior?
  2. Distractions - can your dog perform the same skill outside in a public park as in your indoor kitchen?
  3. Duration - how long will your dog hold a sit, a down, or a stay?

BEFORE ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS ARE ADDED, YOU FIRST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT FOUNDATION OF THAT BEHAVIOR! If your dog cannot sit in the kitchen with no distractions, do not expect to take your dog outside and get a reliable sit.

How to mark behaviors you want:

In the initial stages you may need to have a collar/harness with a 4-6ft leash attached to your puppy or dog so they do not wander. You can hold the leash or just step on it.

Once you have a strong foundation with the behaviors in a low-key environment you can start building upon the behavior by asking for a longer duration of focus, moving food off your body, reducing the reinforcer, requiring eye contact (not staring at the reward), putting distance between you and the dog, and eventually moving into environments with increased distractions (controlled and not controlled).

In order to communicate with your dog when they are doing something you like or are asking for you will want to have a "marker word" or clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word "yes."

Initially you are just "charging the click" to allow your puppy or dog to start associating your marker with the reward which is to follow. As your dog progresses you can always mark the behavior, but you can reduce your reinforcers (you do not have to give a treat every time).



Skill: Marker Word = YES! (or a clicker)
Exercise: Name Game

Criteria: Call your dog’s name, when they look mark YES and reward
Progression: Offered focus (call if needed) but reward for paying attention. If your dog looks away to sniff, you can call their name and reward for looking at you. Young puppies may only glance up for a hot second...don't forget to reward that! 
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards



How does your dog know when it is "ok" to move out of a cue or behavior?


  1. Dog is in crate (chooses to, or lured in at first)
  2. Door closes on dog
  3. The reward or motivator is coming out of the crate
  4. If the dog tries to bolt or barge out, the dog loses access to that reward and the door simply closes quickly
  5. Very quickly a dog will start catching on to the behaviors that are linked together; dog holds position (even for a second) and is released out!
  6. Repeat

There are many scenarios where a release cue is important. For example: a start-line stay on the agility field. 

Wanting to work one dog, while the other stays until it is released. 

While the Dalmatian is released and worked, the other dog is to stay put until she gets released and it is her turn. 


It's amazing how much can be learned by both human and dog hardly saying anything at all. I can go through an entire training session with my dogs, or my horse, or donkeys without saying many words but rather just praising and reinforcing what I like. 

I want my animals to think for themselves and do things with enthusiasm because they want to, not because they are forced to.

One reason I am a huge advocate of crate training (beyond potty training, confidence building, or ruling out anxiety) is because it is the foundation of my release cue

Time out of the crate or time spent interacting with us is rewarding. Anything that a dog wants can be used as a motivator. A dog will do what works for them to achieve that motivator and it is up to us to set boundaries and be consistent with our messages. Many times we are reinforcing things we do not like and we do not even know it!

"Ok" simply means you are free to move.

Very quick durations to start. No distractions that may cause the dog to get up early. You are with the dog so there is not much distance in between you. 


Impulse Control

If our dog shows a sense of self control, generally we will then allow them a reward or access to their motivator. .

  • a dog sits and waits at the door, the door opens (gains access to the outdoors!)
  • a dog keeps all four paws on the floor, we reach down to pet it (gains access to praise!)
  • a dog holds position when the food bowl is placed on the floor, we release and it eats (gains access to food!)

There was a time when my clumsy self knocked an entire bottle of ibuprofen off my counter and every single pill fell onto the floor. Imagine how dangerous that scenario could be for the dog that has no impulse control and as soon as something falls...well, eats it. 

Had it not been for this specific drill, perhaps that day would have went differently. My dogs understand they need to exhibit self control. When they want to access something they need to engage with me and make eye contact for a release that it is "ok" to move. 

Carrying a plate of food? Kids carrying a stuffed animal or dragging a blanket? A puppy or dog needs to understand that in order to get what they want they should show some patience. Now, of course, we do want to eliminate temptation when a dog is learning as we want them to succeed as many times as possible. 

However, as we teach these behaviors consistently we no longer have to view the behavior as a "problem" or challenge. 

Sits & Downs

If you want your dog to sit politely while company enters the door or a stranger greets you in the streets...first you need a strong sit! 

Build strong foundational behaviors. Does your dog understand sit only when you lure a cookie in front of its face? Or can you spin around in circles with your back facing and cue your dog to "sit?" 

A lot of times the behavior is: owner standing straight in front of me lifting up their hand and that posture and signal means to sit. Perhaps your dog does not understand the word itself.

If you want to send your dog to its bed and down, first you need a reliable down. 

Do your motions trigger your dog to get up and move? Can you walk a fill circle around your dog while they remain in a down? Will your dog hold a down while you throw a steak on the floor?

A large part of the foundational skills of behaviors such as sit and down are proofing those behaviors. 

Proofing: the final step in training your dog any new behavior. It involves practicing behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distractions