In-Home Lesson: Monday 3/26

  • Focus/Engagement (Name Game)
  • Focus/Engagement standing straight in front and also in front of us (across our body, as we would be showing, food in right hand)
  • Heel Position (left side only)
  • Four on the Floor (treat luring down from above or horizontally)
  • Release Cue/Crate Games
  • Hand Touch
  • Toy Play (stress relief, break time)

I do not have videos of all the exercises - but posted what I have so far. Ignore commentary on videos as it depended on their creation what I am saying or who I am talking to.

Sample session:
:30 name game warm up, varying positions (front or across your body)
2:00 choose a given exercise to work on
:15 tug/toy play break
take a break...or continue a few more couple minute sessions.

As many sessions as you can do per day (short) is great! I generally do crate games separately from other exercises, but always start with something engaging. If you get upset or frustrated...just stop. If you are confused, take a break and ask questions. If he is not focused, evaluate your environment and your reward hierarchy. 

Heel Position

Release Cue/Crate Games

Hand Touch

Toy Play

This is a real session I did with my dog - as you can see I have multiple training elements going on, but I have tugging in there to keep things friendly and also to let him know it depends what I am asking him on what he needs to do (retrieve a ball to my hand, put a toy in the basket, or tug).

He cannot just CHOOSE what he wants to work for. He gets what is offered and must complete the task to be rewarded. 

In-Home Lesson: Sunday 3/25

  • Interaction between both dogs
  • Charging clicker
  • Name Game / Offered Focus (eye contact)
  • Toy play
  • Expectations and standards for particular behaviors
  • Recall (and offered engagement)


  • The best way to discourage constant interaction is to determine what is triggering the behavior, and prevent it from starting (if you can intervene)
  • Keep in mind if it is a behavior you want to extinguish - behaviors manifest themselves. Therefore, the more it ends up taking place, it may be more continuous or get worse. If some play is OK, that is great, but when you say enough, both dogs should respect the interaction being over and relax
  • Kindly recall Senna and walk him to his crate for some down time. If he will not recall, walk over nicely to grab him. If you are able to recall and redirect BEFORE he starts the interaction, that would be key
    • Example: you are putting Sam's leash on and Brad is reinforcing Senna with treats for keeping his distance and holding his stay until his stay is solid enough to reduce reinforcement or get rid of it all together
  • I would incrementally crate Senna while you are physically home to give him an opportunity to chill and relax where he is not always on the go


Once you feel Senna is associating the sound of the clicker with a reward to follow, you can start utilizing it as a tool to mark behaviors (see video below of Dalmatian "charging clicker." 

Name Game / Offered Focus

  • For every behavior there is a progression and a "criteria" we set
  • For example using the name game:
    • I call Senna and he glances my direction = mark & reward
    • I call Senna and he looks my direction for a couple of seconds = mark & reward
    • I call Senna and he glances up at my eyes (opposed to food) = mark & reward
    • I call Senna and he looks at my eyes for a couple of seconds = mark & reward
    • I call Senna and he looks at my eyes and holds = mark & reward
      • Once you get to the point where he he holding, you need to figure out for how many seconds and release him before he looks away, or try to mark to reinforce for holding longer (depends on the dog)
    • Then we need to get particular on body position for being rewarded
      • Right now it is OK to just look for a few seconds, but eventually it will be a requirement to stack in front of you and be rewarded
  • Keep in mind when you go into a new environment, start at the top of the list (lower the criteria) to see where Senna is at and build off of that. 
  • If you can get an extremely reinforcing foundation behavior, it will help it will stronger in the presence of distractions
  • We need to teach that SILENCE is a good thing so he does not offer behaviors, but rather learns that when you are silent that in fact does mean he is doing the correct thing
  • Always provide opportunities for stress relief (toy play or letting him run)

Toy Play

I would encourage teaching value for toys because you can use it as a training tool and also something fun to do in between sessions. There is a video below on "give it" and "get it" you can refer to.


The easiest way to train is to set CLEAR expectations and be consistent in what they are. On the flip side, ignoring behaviors you do not like (remaining neutral/boring) are very helpful. 

Example: waiting at the door.

If every time you go outside your dog is required to wait at the door in a sit it will prevent your dog from bolting out. The reward is freedom outdoors. Therefore, in this case you do not need food as a motivator. The motivator is well beyond that of food. You can utilize food to encourage the proper behavior, but the ultimate reward is being let outside. The expectation or required behavior is to sit and wait for a release. If that is not done, the opportunity for freedom goes away because the door is closed. There is a video below explaining the "release cue" of OK.


  • Recall starts with focus and engagement
  • The more focused and engaged your dog is with you, the more valuable you are and the more your dog wants to interact with you
  • This starts with name game; call your dog when you have its attention (not while it is chasing a squirrel - that is over facing the dog in the beginning)
  • You can teach "offered recall" by standing outside with rewards on you and when your dog chooses to come to you, rewarding for it. This is teaching your dog you are valuable and he is coming to you by choice just to see. He is never sure what he will get but I would acknowledge the dog coming
  • You can also do a game where two people stand about 10 ft apart to start, Both have food. One person holds the dog back by a collar, harness or his chest. The other person calls the dog's name, and when he is paying attention uses the word "come!" When the dog arrives, there is a reward. As the dog progresses the distance in between can increase as well as adding in elements of distraction.


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



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