It's a New Year! 

  • Jumping
  • Recall (better focus) / Not running off
  • Barking
  • Send to mat (for distance/duration)

Daycare: 3/22


  • Make a list of all the behaviors you feel Spencer knows well (easy for him to succeed)
    • Start working these behaviors inside first, and reduce the reinforcer. For example, ask him to SIT and on every 3rd SIT he gets a reward. Do not have the food on your body, walk with him to go get it from the table (REDUCE REINFORCERS!)
    • Work these drills over and over until you can reduce the reinforcer enough to where you are comfortable
    • Restart doing these drills ON LEASH outside and generously reward and THEN start reducing the reinforcer outside
  • Work your bed drill indoors and make physical markers on the floor so you know where your feet are and can measure progress of distance. If you can be right next to the bed, start reducing your reinforcers for that distance.
    • When you increase your distance (maybe 1 foot at a time) you maybe need to reduce your criteria, and THEN reinforce heavily. Once he is getting it, bump your criteria back up, and then reduce reinforcers for that distance.
    • As he gets better and better it is imperative to remove the reinforcer once he has the behavior
    • If you find he is ONLY obsessed with the food or reward, you need to work that separately so he knows he must perform a task to get what he wants
  • Work your retrieve back to hand indoors so you can get a reliable retrieve with the toy so you are able to use it as a motivator. You want him picking it up and bringing it back to your hand each time so you can restart the drill. You have to separate some of the other behaviors

Daycare: Tuesday 3/6

Disregard the narraration referring to the female dog. This video was originally made for another client.


Daycare: Thursday 2/15


We need to put Spencer in the center and make a full circle walking around him without him shifting or getting up. If this can be completed we then want to add in multiple distractions. When he is released - lure him away from distractions using something high value so he does not release himself to the distractions. I would leash him. Two reasons - he is not used to working on a leash, and we do not want him to self-reinforce. 

Again, I feel you are ready to move to the garage environment. This environment you can tell he is a lot more distracted because he is "concerned" about the other dogs. 

2nd Assignment:

Recalling from a stay past a distraction (almost a straight line).

We need to move all of this outside. End all would be to set him up on your driveway with distractions walking by and he OFFERS focus when the distraction walks by because that is the default response. 

Lastly would be off-leash and he comes to you because previously distraction reinforcement was so high. 

Daycare: Thursday 2/8

Distraction Continuation 


Perform the basics (sit & down, calling his name) with NO FOOD OR REINFORCEMENT ON YOUR BODY. Have it on a table next to you. He has a lot of trouble performing behaviors because he has the attitude "show me the money." You need to do these foundational behaviors with food off your body, over and over, and over until he understands he must behave a certain way and reinforcement will come. START INSIDE. HE HAS TO GET THEM INSIDE FIRST. I think you are expecting a lot of him wanting this focus outdoors in new places when he is struggling to do things inside without reinforcement.


Add in elements of distraction (now you can have food back on your body because the criteria has changed). Keep him on leash at first. 

Once he is focused on you, you can eventually take him off leash and add new distractions (human food, tennis balls, favorite toy, etc). Until we know he understands the expectation we need to manage him so he does not release himself to the food and reinforce that behavior. 

You will start with just his focus. Then you can start adding in sits and downs, stays, and even movement. All on leash to start. Then you can take the game to your garage, yard, and outside in a new place. Once he gets this, again food will be off our body. 

I think over the course of the next few weeks this is what should be focused on - primarily indoors. He is not ready for these things outside because he is struggling to perform foundational behaviors without reinforcement present. 

Daycare: Tuesday 2/6

If you recall at the very beginning of training (bottom of this page) there is discussion with regard to DISTANCE, DISTRACTION, DURATION. These are the elements we add to basic behaviors (foundations) in order to make them better and more applicable to the real world. Before we add these elements, we must make sure our dog can perform the behaviors in a comfortable environment with minimal outside factors happening. 

So now, we will go back to some of the basic behaviors (sit, down, stay, focus, hand touches, and start adding in DISTANCE, DISTRACTIONS, DURATION. Will your dog "sit" when you ask them to with your back turned? Does he KNOW the command sit? Or just your body language? Will your dog hold a stay when a door opens? Will your dog hold a sit or a down for duration with an open container of food on the floor? Now we slowly add these items in and start rewarding for focus despite a DISTRACTION being present. We also want to build a duration for the behaviors before the dog releases itself, and put some distance in between. 

We will start with food/toys on the floor in the work area, and again on the floor to cover the distraction if the dog decides to go for it.

DO NOT START WITH THE TENNIS BALL IF HE CONTINUOUSLY IS FAILING. If he is doing OK you can use it but make sure it is not in a place accessible where he can get it and reward himself. You will not use the ball as the reward right now. It is just the distraction and him knowing it is up to you how he will be reinforced. He needs to do one thing in order to earn another. 

Daycare: Wednesday 1/31

Foundational Focus, Stay, & Distractions

Today I set Spencer up. I had a mat out, and another dog, and had food on me. I wanted Spencer to stay on the mat (close by me) while I worked the other dog on his downs. I wanted Spencer to stay on the mat for duration and I would reinforce for position frequently. He is terrified about the Treat & Train - which I would love to use, but a substantial amount of time would need to be used to desensitize him from that; and because you do not have one at home I do not want to waste time utilizing it or trying to train him to be comfortable with it.

What I realized are a couple of things:

- lack of impulse control, way too overfaced and NOT ready for any distractions besides perhaps working in your garage on the mat drill
- not a clear understanding of a stay/wait
- very highly focused on the food and not getting it (even if the treats were being tossed to him he could not control his impulses)
- he needs to trust that performing one thing will lead to another - and he will be rewarded for it


WE NEED TO GET A SIT-STAY and a DOWN-STAY being able to make a full circle around him - first while we have food and secondly when food is not physically on us. We will NOT use the bed for this. 


Everything foundational we do, without getting frustrated is going to build value, engagement, and a good working relationship to get what we do what. Let's try to be as consistent as possible. He is required to sit and wait before exiting doors here. I believe the same is true at your house. If he does not recall inside he should be completely ignored. Even once he comes in. After a few minutes then you can be neutral with him. Over the course of the new few weeks while he is here I would like to go through each of these skills. Ding them inside at first would be great, but outside is the goal. What distance of a sit-stay? How far can we get? Will he send to his mat outside? Is he starting to come because the value to coming in is much greater than staying out?

Daycare: Tuesday 1/30

Since Spencer has a lot of reinforcement history for NOT COMING, I would like to introduce a game to reinforcement consistent recalls. Secondly, I would like to get a "wait at the door" for ALL doors - especially because he bolted at your house. 

Recall Game

  1. Take Spencer outside. Let him do whatever he wants in the yard. Stand close to the door where you will be going in.
  2. Recall him to you after 15-30 seconds of him being in the yard ('Spencer come' in an excited voice). IF he comes, rush inside and go grab a treat, toy etc. and play and reinforce.
  3. Take him back out again and repeat. 
  4. Do this 3-5 times (or until not successful but do not exceed 5 times in a session).
  5. IF he does not come when you call him on the 1st time...IMMEDIATELY be silent, ignore him, turn around, and go inside. When he comes to the door you may let him in - but do not watch for him if he can see you. If he does not recall, you are done and the game stops. So if he only had 2 good recalls, that is all he is going to get. You can do this throughout the day. 
  6. We need to him to start learning that coming to you is GREATER than running from you. This may take some time since he is used to running off and not always recalling. On good recalls you can even have a special treat - that he ONLY gets on recalls - duck food, trachea, small chew, chicken, etc. Something amazing. 
  7. Report back to me on how he is doing. We will build off of this but we really need to continue with focus and engagement exercises to teach him how valuable you are. 

Daycare: Thursday 1/25/2018

Training Recommendation:

Because the first step in training is to have a confident dog - we need him to be OK in new environment with new things. Environmental insecurities and distractions are going to make it tough for the dog to want to perform. This is OK, but time will need to be taken to work on this. 

It would be my recommendation to take him to a park or new environment that has minimal distractions. Vineyards of North Collier would be great places to start as long as there are not tons of people or a tournament going on. Work on focus and exploration. Let him see and experience new things without the pressure to perform. 

  1. Put him on the long line
  2. Stand in one spot and let him look around and sniff
  3. IF he chooses to come to you reward. Do not say anything to him, just reward if he engages. He will have to work through new environments to make sure he is secure before he actually wants to work and learn a new skills (in new places). I would maybe even use his ball in a case like this since it is higher value. 
  4. Move around from places to place just working on engagement. If will be tough to take a dog who is not secure to new places and expect him not only to stick with you, but to also listen as it seems he can get very stressed out. He is not in a state of mind to be available for what you want when he is like this. 
  5. The more you practice basic focus at home in your yard, the more confident he will get. I would take him in your yard on and off the long line just working on focus (treats off your body) and running to the treat tin and interacting...just HAVING FUN with out high pressure to do something. 

I do notice when all the dogs are out with him, Spencer is last to come. He wants to continue to play and does not want to stop. However, even when all the dogs have come inside he is still refusing to come, although, yes, he knows he is disobeying. I would be VERY CAREFUL to scold but always try to be as upbeat as possible to get him to come. If he does not come, shut the door. On the times his recall is quick, I would GENEROUSLY REWARD. 

I would also be careful with smacking him. I know you have mentioned at times irritation causes him to be corrected physically. Although I am sure you are not physically injuring him, it is not helping is confidence. There are times I feel he thinks I am raising a hand at him when I am simply walking towards him, and we really do not want him to be that nervous. He has enough nerves, so we should do our best not to add to the insecurity. 

Daycare: Wednesday 1/24/2018

1. Where are we at with the mat drill at your home? Is he driving to the mat where you are comfortable setting up the drill to have him stay on the mat so we can increase distraction/move mat outdoors on leash and get some duration? 

2. Recall/focus/staying near

You CANNOT set Spencer up for failure. If you are unsure if he is going to stay near it is imperative to have him leashed (to NOT reinforce straying off) or have a motivator on your that you offer when he is close. Be generous at first while you are training, and then REDUCE the reinforcer as the behavior becomes stronger. But keep in mind, still be fun and engaging event when you have nothing. Learn from mistakes. 

Take him to places where you are working focus, where you are working him staying close and he is being rewarded. Remember - rewards can be praise too - not just food or toy. BUT if you are going into an environment that is more valuable than you are, you need something your dog wants.


Daycare: Thursday 1/18/2018


  • Spencer DOES understand driving to the mat
  • Spencer DOES have value for the mat
  • Now, we need to increase duration and add in real-life activities and low key distractions while he remains on the mat
  • That said, we are moving around and tossing treats to reinforce him holding position and trying to release before he gets up on his own. As he gets better at staying we can add harder distractions in

Food for thought: Correction (your love of a vibrating collar)

:31 he corrected himself to make a conscious effort understanding the down needed to be on the mat - which is why I marked. Minus the fact the mat moved - I corrected in future sessions

My timing was too slow marking the down in this video

I am still slightly unhappy with my timing in this video as well. He is driving, he is understanding. 

Once you can start getting him to understand he needs to stay, and you are reinforcing it, you will slowly reduce...but as I said be generous in the beginning. If you like to read I have books you may be interested in on dog training which may help you with theory vs your vibration collar. 

Reliable reinforcement in the presence of distractions. Value for the mat. Value for a stay. Trust there will be a reward. She has distance work and distractions understood. She started learning how to drive on a mat and with me leaving her on the mat inside, and gradually reducing reinforcement. Then outside. Understanding to stay and not move until released.

Understand this training session - even though "training" the Dalmatian is actually training the dog on the cot. That is my focus which is why it is imperative to set up actual sessions. Even if you're try to wash your car - but your training your dog....you're training your dog actively and you need to pay attention to what he is doing.

Daycare: Wednesday 1/17/2018

Reflection: Progress & Goal Setting

  • Where do you feel your dog is now compared to where you would like it to be?
    • Have you taken into account behaviors that have been created/allowed vs. behaviors you have actively and consistently worked on? Example: leash pulling. Do every time you go out on leash are you consistent to not allow the dog to pull, or do you allow the dog to pull to get it where it wants to go, reinforcing this behavior? How long has your dog been getting away with behaviors you do not like? Have you done anything to change those behaviors?
  • Do you feel the time, energy, and consistency you are putting in on a regular basis lines up with your long term goals?
    • What is a realistic amount of time per day or per week that you are willing and able to set aside to set up specific training sessions with your dog? Do you have 5 minutes per day to choose a skill? Can you only commit to a few times per week?
  • Do you have a clear understanding and specific plan for your short term goals leading to your end behaviors

Recall. Focus. Value Building. 

  • If you want your dog's attention, you need to be valuable. Your dog should WANT to interact with you because it is rewarding and fun. If you want your dog's focus, you need to teach that focus pays off! In order to get a recall, you need both of these. At the same time, you, as a human being, should be pleasant. If you are unhappy, angry or frustrated you are not fun to work with and you should avoid working with your dog in this state of mind (or stop a lesson if you are getting this way)
  • All of these dogs in the video are here for training. A lot of them are very young. You can see we are in a CONFINED (and familiar) area, off leash. They have a choice to sniff, pee on stuff, play with each other, or interact with me. However I am rarely saying anything but I am rewarding when they interact or when I recall and they listen. I am letting them do what they want but am value building as they choose ME! I am rewarding from focus. 
  • You should be able to identify which dog's have a foundation/value for focusing. Which are more food motivated, which are more distracted, etc. In the beginning I DO want to reward generously and eventually food moves off my body, but regardless of a FOOD motivator I still remain fun and rewarding. 
  • DRILL: take your dog to a confined and familiar area (or leash) and allow your dog to sniff and do what it wants, but REWARD (4 types of rewards) when your dog chooses you. DO NOT FORCE YOUR DOG'S ATTENTION!!!!

Daycare: Thursday 1/4/2018

Video Review

Instead of "good boy" make sure you are marking the behavior as soon as it takes place with your YES marker.

:08 timing was perfect with treat on the bed, but you did not mark YES

:14 he offered a sit, but I would have released him off, not rewarded as now you expected two behaviors 1) just to get on the bed 2) now to sit. Decide what he is consistently doing (DOWNING) and expect that every time. Anything short of that does not earn a reward

:29 you clicked with your mouth to encourage him off and walked away. You are teaching him with that to release when you walk away. Stay in one place, say OK and toss a treat or encourage him to you

:45 again you are using "good boy" and should be marking it with YES. He offered a DOWN but you fed to his mouth, not on the bed...feed on the bed to build value for the bed and the down position

1:09 was his best drive to the bed. Your timing was very slow, you did not mark, and you fed to mouth. But, you were talking to be as well...so I will give you a pass.

This is exactly what we are looking for. Driving to the bed. Now we can start naming it. GO TO YOUR BED. That means "drive to your bed, and offer a down, and wait until I release you." 

We are starting to name the behavior "go to your bed."

That means drives to your bed, turn around, down, and wait. 

We will reinforce for him holding position, while we move (and he remains).

To release we say OK and toss a treat. It does not and should not be dictated by our motion. Once he understands that OK means to move, we will REDUCE THE REINFORCEMENT for the release cue. It is rewarding enough to be released. 

We mark for behavior, reward for position. When I mess up with a bad toss in the beginning I reset into a down to reward.

1:36 I am talking and he remains on the bed so I reinforce. We need to track the time WITHOUT distractions that he will remain on the bed. You can also start giving chews or other pleasant things on the bed to continue the positive relationship with the bed.

Daycare: Wednesday 1/3/2018

Assignment #1:

*"Assignments are highly recommended suggestions for you to do once your dog returns back home. Each assignment has a purpose and it needs to be understood that skills and drills are done for a reason as many relate to one another. If you have a question about any suggestion, please ask! 

I train sending to a particular spot (mat, crate, bed cot) using the technique of shaping. There are times I will lure, however I always like the dog to decide and choose (basically figuring it out by guessing and "mark" when they get it correct).

Spend 2-5 minutes on this drill and try to commit to this at least 2X per day. If you are able to video your short sessions and send to me, that will be helpful so I can provide direct feedback on your timing, body position, etc since I cannot be there with you. This also might help from an accountability standpoint as well. 

  1. Place Spencer's bed in the middle of a room. Minimal distractions. If he is distracted, leash him on a 4-6ft leash.
  2. Have easy-to-eat training treats in your hand, and a container accessible for when you need to reload.
  3. If you do not have a clicker you will be using the word "YES" when your dog does what you want.
  4. If Spencer is already putting all four paws on his bed at home, that is where your criteria starts (all four paws, standing).
  5. If he is sitting on the bed, then the criteria is getting on the bed sitting.
  6. If he offers a down (consistently), then the criteria is getting on the bed and offering a down. Anything LESS than where the bar is set for an expectation does not earn a treat. If your dog is struggling or you are luring...then set the criteria what is being done consistently
  8. Right now, all you need to do for assignment 1 is get him DRIVING with ambition to his bed and getting into a down and feeding on the bed in between his paws. 
  9. If done at home a few minutes per day he should be driving to his bed, excited to turn around and offer a down because that position is valuable. 
  10. If he holds for a few seconds, simply say "OK" and toss a treat to reset him and start again.
  11. Once he is offering a down on the mat and you are consistently reinforcing for holding position (and he is not getting up or releasing himself off) we will work on making a full circle around the bed while he is on it, reinforcing him for staying as we do so. If the full circle causes him to get up, we will work a half circle.

*We will work adding DISTANCE, DISTRACTIONS, and DURATION on the mat once he is consistently driving to the mat. If you want to start bringing his bed so we are working the same object, you may do so. 

Before moving on to the next progression (increasing the distance and adding duration), this is the DRIVE we are looking for from Spencer. We want him to be extremely eager to continue to drive onto his bed, turn around, and offer a down (and hold position until the food comes). At the point he is showing this, we want to start attaching the phrase "go to your mat" to the behavior. This is when we will know he has a true understanding and value for his bed and this behavior. 

You will be right next to, or only a foot or two away from his bed at first. 

Notice at no point am I telling him to "stay" on the mat, it is simply just the expectation that he does not release until he is asked. As long as he decides to stay, he will be rewarded. 


Daycare: Wednesday 11/29

Brushing up on Basics

I came across an interesting article questioning whether or not our dogs really understand the commands we are giving them or if they are solely going off our physical cues. 

Example: Does your dog know "sit" or does your dog know "sit when I stand in front of you and use a hand signal?" This made me realize that some dogs (including my own) are not fulling understanding the command or the verbal cue we are giving (they need to see us and our expressions to make sense of what we are asking). For instance, if you turn your back to your dog and ask him to sit, will he sit? My goal is to better proof behaviors (sits, downs, stays) so that the dog is fully understanding the cue.

Start with asking your dog to sit at all angles luring with a treat, then increase distance. You can also sit on the ground, lay on the ground, turn your back to your dog, spin in circles all while teaching the command. This is a great way to mental Spencer out mentally and teach more value for basic cues. Same can be done for "down."

Crate Games: I am focusing on incrementally crating, releasing from crate, and driving to crate. This will give more structure and impulse control. He did not jump at me during the day today but I would start having rewards readily available and rewarding at your knee generously anytime someone comes in the house or he is getting excited and jumping. You can even scatter treats on the floor to see if this methods helps keep his focus down instead of up.

Daycare: Wednesday 11/1

Perhaps if we start with a skill that has less steps to break down it will be easier to make sense of "shaping." Maybe it will make more sense of not naming it until the dog has it - but at least you can do so in less steps.

Try using a book or the top of a yogurt container and putting it on the floor. Wait for Spencer to touch it with his nose, and when he does, place the treat on the object he touched. Placing the treat on the touched object builds value for the object and also encourages the dog to touch it as that is where the treat ends up at first. Once he is CONSISTENTLY OFFERING touching the object, then name it "go touch it." Touch to me just refers to using the nose.

Daycare: Tuesday 10/31

Sending to Bed

  1. Doing this drill at home for less than 10 minutes a few times per day will go a long way
  2. Quickly he should start driving to a mat/bed so then the next step will be driving to it from distance and adding duration so he stays on the mat until released
  3. Lastly will be adding in distractions so he understands holding position despite his impulses to get up if he sees something
  4. We do not name it until he is driving to it and understands going to it means "go to your mat," turn around, lay down and wait. 


Daycare: Wednesday 10/23

Canine Conditioning & Agility

  • Surface Exposure
  • Engagement Outdoors  
  • Sit-Stays

Generally I use "shaping" (shaping, or as it's formally known, “shaping by successive approximations,” simply means breaking down a behavior into tiny increments, and reinforcing the dog at each incremental step until you've achieved the full behavior) but with him I lured since he is a bit more unsure about new objects and does not have much shaping history. 

Shaping requires the dog to take incremental steps on its own (without being told) such as 1) look at the disk and reward 2) touch the disc and reward) 3) put a paw on the disc and reward 4) put two paws on the disc and reward 5) remain on the disc and reward. I waited for Spencer to check out the disc out of curiosity using shaping, but then lured to help get the paws up. 


Do not be overly concerned that you do not have agility equipment or conditioning equipment at your house. I would start using a book, or something similar to get him used to putting his two front paws up on an object. With the new surfaces he is exposed to he will be more comfortable on the agility equipment and start understanding to remain on it for rewarding. All of the contact equipment (for the most part - contact equipment meaning teeter, dog walk, and a-frame) is taught using "back-chaining." This means teaching the end result last. While it is great to have a dog just go over equipment, he really needs to learn it correctly so if you would ever decide to participate in agility he would have the proper skills and understanding of the expectations on the equipment. 

In any training session and especially in shaping you want to have the game plan in your head. If your dog works faster than you do and surprises you - you won't be ready to mark the behavior when the dog guesses. When I put this object down I knew I was going to mark: 1) nose touch (I knew he would do more than just look at it) 2) put teeth on it 3) pick it up 4) bring it to me. It is in this exact order that I would be sure to mark the behavior to hit the progressions. Once the dog is consistently hitting the progressions, you WAIT for them to keep hitting the most recent one. For example - he already understood picking it up in his mouth; therefore I would not back track and reward for just touching it with his nose. 


Here is a short little drill you can do combining skills such as focus, sits, downs, stays, heel position etc. If this is done a few times throughout the day during the week it will make a huge difference in engagement - especially since he is facing things in the environment that tend to startle him (small noises). 

All I am doing is asking for his attention and ignoring him, yet he is choosing to come to me. Yes, I have food but I do not need to reward on every each rep. I choose to because I want to build value and trust with him. I want him to think I am the best thing that exists. When he comes to me I see him and I will "pay" for checking in. He does not have a lot of distance, distraction or duration with his sit stay (on pavement) which is something we definitely want to build to help on the agility field since a lot of the work is done at a distance. 

Daycare: Tuesday 10/17

Confidence Building & Walking 

Always keep in mind not to force him or lose patience. If he is scared, that is OKAY. Because it is a new object AND a new sound I am taking the food and hand feeding just for moving towards the new object. You need to start where your dog is at. 

I learned from my first session that I should put him on a leash and collar so he stays with me. Again, the treats are scattered NEAR the object and noise because he is too fearful to take them from the Treat & Train. We made progress because he is closer than he was before. That is always what we are looking for in any behavior...improvement! 

And, not before long, in only a few short sessions Spencer is eating from the Treat & Train itself. As he eats from it I want to continue to reinforce the behavior. Once I am able to train him on the Treat & Train I can use it for a variety of behaviors so I do not have to reward from my body but rather wherever the Treat & Train is. It is GREAT for distance work.

Here is a sample of an end result for touching objects. Not only can it be used to physically touch something that a dog is scared or unsure of...but also for a purpose. In this video Setter was taught to turn on a touch lamp using the "touch" command. You can teach a dog to touch with its nose, or paws. If I am working on retrieve behaviors I like a nose touch since the progression is with the mouth (not the paw). I also like a nose touch for checking out new objects since it is more benefit for a dog to sniff something new which would require the nose. 

Walking in a Martingale Collar

  • Did NOT seem to understand walking in a collar and was not comfortable or confident
  • Did not sniff or pull due to lack of confidence and understanding of walking in a collar, was looking at me but I could tell he was nervous
  • Initial reaction when leash was tight was to hold position and pull back more (therefore keep loose leash and walk at his pace...when leash is loose, we walk)
  • Needs to build more value (or value period) being at your side (he was lagging behind)
  • To build value for being at your side I WOULD USE FOOD for short sessions and feed right at your side for being next to you (opposed to lagging)
  • When using food for loose leash walking you are using it to build value for position, not for learning how to walk
  • I would only use food for short sessions, walking a short distance back and forth to encourage his position
  • Remember to continue moving, there is no need to ever stop and sniff unless you see he needs to engage with an object which in the case your "touch it" command would be useful
  • I only gave him 1-2 feet of leash --there would be no reason why I would want to give my dog more than that

Walking in a Harness

  • Was comfortable in the harness
  • Walked no problem, with minimal sniffing but definitely wanted to put his nose to the pavement and veer off to try to get to the side to sniff...we just kept moving...but it won't be enough in the long run to build the engagement you want
  • Still has the same reaction when the leash is tighter to pull away and hold position causing him to lag and NOT walk in or near a heel
  • Not one time "checked in" by looking up to make eye contact with me, even when name was called 

Value Building

  • Constantly reward by your walking leg (I walk with the dog on the left because that is standard heel). Short sessions, just walking back and forth and when he comes into your left knee, reward by your knee.
  • Go back to "Name Game" so he has more value for his name knowing that it means to look at you. Then you will have the ability to use it on walks - you want him to make eye contact with you, not stare at the treats. Each day I would sit or stand and count out 10 treats (perhaps do this a few times per day). I would call his name and when he looks I would feed. If he remains offering focus, I would still reward. 

Sample lure to heel. This will teach your dog value for being at your side, not just in front. Generally a dog defaults to the front because this is ALWAYS where the food comes from. Video was initially made for a dog named Amy - disregard. 


Daycare: Thursday 10/12

Engagement Exercises

A couple of things that you will want to start doing is thinking more about the behaviors you are allowing vs. what behavior you actually want.

For example: on a walk and in new places (parks, etc) YOU want to be of value (not things in the environment). If you are allowing Spencer to greet other dogs and humans (and jump and be reinforced) he is always going to want to do that because it is fun. Instead, you could change his mindset: when he sees another dog or human, feed for his attention or play with a toy so he starts to associate the sight of another dog with engagement and focus with you. 

Hand Touches/Touching Objects

  • Great for attention/focus
  • Great for sending away to touch things he is scared of
  • Great to redirect the dog back to your hand
  • Great to move your dog into position (heeling)

Daycare: Friday 10/6

Feel free to use the button above to link to general information on jumping.

  1. Think about the scenarios and environment in which your dog is jumping (when you first get home, when company arrives, when you have something he wants such as a food or toy etc.)
  2. Once you have an understanding of WHEN and WHY Spencer is jumping, you can figure out a plan to correct the issue

Does he jump when you first get home and he is let out of the crate?
     Although you did not "train" him to do this, you have allowed him to do this without redirection or consequence, therefore to him he thinks it is OK. 
Please understand that dog-training is problem-solving. The suggestions are based upon things that have worked with other dogs in the past - but at the end of the day it is up to you to decide what method you want to use. All with take consistency and time depending on what you choose. 

  • When you first arrive home, wait at least 5-10 minutes before releasing Spencer from his crate. This also means not speaking to him, not looking at him, etc - as your behavior and emotion will also dictate his. Allow him to CALM DOWN while still crated. If you are releasing him and he is already in an excited state, you can almost guarantee he will exert this energy through jumping.
  • Decide what you want to happen next. Do you want him to release out of if crate and sit so you can interact? Do you want him to release out and walk to the door to potty? Whichever you decide you need to expect it every time and be consistent. I personally do not interact with my dogs when I arrive home because this "emotional interaction" is also something that feeds separation anxiety. Although my dogs are older and established, I have never interacted this way, so it is second nature not to "baby talk" my dogs or try to excite them when I get home. I just want them to exist and be polite. I will say hi once they are out. I have been consistent so they understand I will say hi and we will move on from there. It does not have to be a big extravagant greeting. 

Does he jump when guests come to your home?
     Again, although you have not "trained" him to jump and greet he has understood through reinforcement (perhaps not even purposely) that people are valuable and jumping leads to interaction (does not matter if it is good or bad, attention is attention)

  • Decide what is triggering the excitement (YOUR habits BEFORE a guest arrives, a knock on the door, car pulling into driveway, opening the door, etc. 
  • Think about exactly what behavior you would like and how it needs to be managed. When you think about management you need to think about what YOU are willing to go through when guests come to the house. Are you willing to leash your dog every time to teach him? Are you willing to leash and feed your dog every time to reinforce him sticking with you or holding a sit? Are you comfortable crating him? How much time do you want to put into a behavior and do you have an understanding that "excited" guests are a larger distraction than someone walking in with a neutral existence?
  • I would suggest leashing him if JUST FOOD ALONE does not keep him from guests (guests are still more valuable than food so you need to manage him with a leash)
  • Guests should not be allowed to pet OR interact with him unless he is in a sit. Remaining calm and neutral is the easiest way...perhaps petting for 2-5 seconds is enough as long as he holds position. Eventually holding a sit would lead to be released to "say hi." 
  • I personally like my dog to remain in position, but because I do not want to be responsible for him I chose to build value for a mat or bed which he stays on until released. The video can be seeing through the link above (button)

Daycare: Thursday 9/28

In the video "Spencer just ignoring" I am allowing him to simply be a dog. He is a bit skittish and in an area of the yard we do not often go to. It also looks different due to different debris, the garbage can being moved, and he can also hear all three neighbor dogs barking in the distance in their home. He is mostly just standing and doing some sniffing, but really is not doing anything at all. He is not overly confident so does not want to go too far away from me. He has also not figured out that I am rewarding or fun, and right now I am remaining very neutral letting him do what he wants. The last thing I want to do is have him overly nervous or distracted trying to engage with him and he is not even responding. 

You can now see there is a huge difference in attitude and confidence once I am actively pursuing his attention and engagement. I am rewarding each time he comes to me with praise and food, or both. You can tell when he gets hyped up he wants to start zooming, but I simply move the opposite direction and ask him to come to me (opposed to chasing and reinforcing the "keep away" game). My energy is pretty low and he seems to be engaged as I ask for it. This is the beginning stage for great recall (and relationship building) as he is learning how fun it is to engage. Soon, a repeat of the first video offering no engagement he should start offering engaging and continue coming to me out of choice because it is rewarding.  

I do want Spencer to do his own thing because soon enough he will realize when I call his name I mean business and I am fun when he responds. If you overuse it (or use "meatloaf") without following through...eventually is it going to affect his trust and he will not believe that you are actually going to "pay" for him coming to you. I would much rather see you take him out on a long line or take him out with food and REWARD when he chooses to pay attention and then be exciting and call him when you are ready to go in, grab his collar and walk in with him. He is does not want to go inside with you, you are setting too many triggers off before going inside that he has figured out. I would try to make going inside more valuable than being outside and perhaps offer a jackpot at the door consistently. I have never been put in the position where he does not come in because I only give him one opportunity to take it or leave it and it has never been to his benefit to stay out there alone.

Daycare: Tuesday, September 26th

The article below was written by one of my favorite dog trainers, Denise Fenzi. PLEASE take the time to read it. I looked it up because as I am working with Spencer I am recalling the methods in which I used to get my dog to recall and especially a recall when he is distracted. It is well worth the read in getting a recall and her method is the method I choose to use. I have made notes next to her article in bold regarding Spencer. I would try to go out a few times per day (AM or PM when it is cooler) to set up an actual training scenario based upon relationship building. When you are going out just to go out as normal, I would not neglect methods of training, but rather figure out what it is that makes him WANT to come back to you and come inside.

How to Get a Recall

Posted on January 15, 2014 by dfenzi

The standard answer is, “Make it worth the dog’s while”.

Odds of this approach to recall training working go up quite a lot under a few circumstances:

1.  Your dog isn’t hugely self confident.  Dogs that are a little nervous on their own have a natural inclination to stay relative close.  That makes recall training a lot easier.

2.  Your dog is under  about four months of age. Puppies usually know that they cannot survive on their own; unfortunately at around four or five months of age they often get stupid and think they can rule the world.  That is when recalls (and training in general) can be challenging for many dog/handler teams.   Don’t give up; your nice dog usually comes back. Spencer is getting to the age where he is wanting more distance and is OK exploring. If you constantly "need him" he does not really have an opportunity need you. If you walk away, I would let him follow and reward for doing so opposed to trying to call and convince him over and over. 

3.  Your dog is fully mature.  After your dog has  worked through the stupid age and has seen a few thousand dogs, trees, and leaves, they aren’t quite so over the top when they encounter another.  Excited?  Maybe.  But not riveted.  Some environmental realities (usually critters but other possibilities exist) will always be very powerful for some dogs.

4.  Your dog wants what you have more than the alternatives.  Some dogs live for food – a 10 out of 10.  Those dogs are easier to recall off of distractions  because food overwhelms environmental realities.  All you have to do is convince your dog that you have food every time you call, and you’ll generally get a good recall. I would go outside and have Spencer on a leash or long line to start. That is, if taking him off leash is out of the question. I would let him sniff and explore, but when he chooses to engage with you, made it worth his while. You do not need to overcall his name. When we were outside it is A) super hot B) other dogs out there. I know he is already tired from the heat, but I also know that if only a couple of times I engage with him, he will be more excited to engage with me when the opportunity comes. You can also do this indoors and just work on engagement...the stronger you have it without distractions, the stronger it will be with. 

5.  Your dog isn’t all that interested in the environment. Even if food is only a 6 out of 10, if the environment is a 5 out of 10 you’ll still win.

6. Habit.  If your dog hears “come” a few thousand times, and it ends up being a neutral or positive event when they do, then habit takes over to a large extent.  They just do it. When I hear my name called, I respond.  I spend very little time making a decision about it or weighing out the options – it’s a habit.  I respond to my name.  As do my dogs. Be careful not to overuse his name and come if you are not getting a result. We want to change his mindset about when he hears his name that something great is to follow and it is worth it to pay attention.

7.  All of the above, working together.

There you have it in a nutshell – what most trainers will tell you about recall training if they take a moment to think it through.

Let me add one more that I personally believe in.

8.  Relationship.  This is where I get to irritate some people.  Fortunately this is my blog and therefore my soapbox so I’m going to go through this topic again.

My dogs care what I think and they like it when I’m engaged and happy with them.  Yes, even my Terrier cares.  They care because I make it a priority to create a strong relationship.  I talk, celebrate and play with them as part of our daily habit.  I make an effort to be their ally as much as possible.  Some dogs make it easy to develop a relationship because of their temperament. With others, you’ll have to work hard.  Sometimes….very hard.

I have relatively few rules.  I do not nag.  I’m nice and playful and fun.  I have food and toys.  I have personality.  I use all of those in concert – not prioritizing them in any particular way.  I’m not the least bit concerned about what I have “on” me when I call my dogs; I know how to interact in a manner that will make them want to be with me.  The younger the dog, the more I will use classic rewards with a recall, but that’s not the reason they come back when I call – not over the long run.

I hear that this won’t work with my young dog because he is a terrier.   That is not correct; it will work. I know this because it’s already working,   I used to spend 50 – 90% of my training time either actively using toys and food to prevent him from leaving me, or getting him back  when I failed and he’d already run off (even though I had food and toys on me and he knew it).  Now I spend 10% of my time getting him back, so we’re progressing.  That’s because we are developing a relationship.  While the food and toys have decreased in usage over the past month, his commitment to me has increased.  That is because he is learning to value me – not simply the food and toys that I may or may not have in my pocket.

Brito can wear a long line if I’m in a place where I know he is either not safe or where “getting him back” will make him want to avoid me.  That way he can’t develop a habit of ignoring me because I can step on the leash.  There is no nagging.

I don’t call if I think he’s not going to come; instead I time my recalls for when I am pretty sure he is likely to respond anyway.  If I see a deer go by, I’ll just pick up the leash. If he’s totally engrossed in a smell, I can wait for him to finish before calling.   Why call when I’m going to lose?

I pay attention to my environment – I can’t pick up the leash to prevent chasing the deer if I don’t even see the deer.

I set up my environment to make him “sorry” for not coming when that is practical.  If I am in a safe spot and have multiple dogs, I’ll call all of the dogs one time knowing that he won’t come.   Then I turn my attention to the other dogs (who did come) and make a huge fuss over them, including food and toys, if possible.  But…for that to work the alternative interest has to be mild – he won’t care about the other dogs and their party if he has something that he considers even better.  Pick those moments with care. Denise uses the "invisible dog method quite often and it has worked quite well because dogs want to be accepted and interacted with. They do not like missing out.

I express my disapproval when he does not come and we are in a safe and relatively dull space.  If I let him out into the yard and after a reasonable while I call him in, then I’m going to tell him I’m not happy if he does not come back.  I will pressure him by moving into his space, so he can’t simply sit in the sun and snooze.  I’ll be verbally irritating. I won’t touch him or try to grab him – that sets up a game of keep away.  And when he does decide to come rather than put up with my irritating ways, then I make sure to tell him he’s amazing. If I want to use food and toys then I will, but it’s not a requirement.

The fact is, your best bet for a reliable recall is a dog who finds you fun to be with – YOU.  Not your food and toys.  A package deal.

Lots of people believe this can’t work for their dog – but I’ve noticed that many of these same people do a lot of cookies with very little personal interaction to back it up.  If you don’t make a relationship a priority, it’s not likely that your confident and independent dog will think it up either.  How much energy have you put into making sure that your dog values your company as a person rather than as a pez dispenser?  Seriously.  Think about it.    How many minutes did you spend today being fun and interesting, just one on one with your dog, without food or toys? One minute? Five minutes?  Ten minutes?  None?  And the rest of your dog’s day….how much time did he find entertainment without you?

If you called your dog and he came, did you reach straight for a cookie?  How much time did you spend backing up that cookie with personal approval?  Five seconds?  Ten seconds?  Ten seconds of serious praise is a long time.  It’s especially long when you’re house training a dog that has to go out every hour.  Do you really spend the time?

I’m quite sure that this relationship based method won’t work for all dogs.  NO METHOD WORKS FOR ALL DOGS.  But I can guarantee that a relationship based method will fail if you don’t make the development of a relationship a very serious priority.  It’s not going to happen by accident!

I just finished teaching a very intense online, six week class on play.  The number one comment on the survey results was….”my dog is paying a lot more attention to me now; both in life and in training!”.  That’s what happens when you spend six weeks playing with your dog.  You develop value.  You develop a relationship.

Maybe Brito will always require a leash in certain parts of the world – that’s fine.   But for the things I need – solid attention at the dog show.  A solid recall on my property.  A solid recall within a training situation – those things I will work hard to get and have, to the point that I will feel safe with him off of leash and others will also feel safe when he is around.  It might take a long time but it is a priority, so I will find a way to make it happen.

I neither need nor expect a 100% recall – it is not a realistic goal for all dogs nor is it truly necessary, unless you feel the need to walk your dog on the side of the freeway.  Indeed, believing that your dog has a 100% recall is a great way to end up with a dead or injured dog.  Ask me, I know about that from days gone by.

Here’s a very long video.  Ten minutes, unedited, of a “play- training” session with Brito.  Note how much time is spent in skill training – so little it’s not worth mentioning.  Most of our time is spent playing and interacting in an informal manner – food, toys and play work together, but none is truly prioritized.  Sometimes he wanders off or does not come when called – it’s not that big of a deal. I do not nag.  I do not insist on much of anything.  We simply spend time together.  And it’s fun for both of us!

RECALL (and toy play, we can use a toy as the reward)

Things to consider BEFORE beginning a recall session:

The environment and its many distractions (START INDOORS FIRST, ON LEASH)
The distance at which you are calling your dog from (START CLOSE, AT A DISTANCE THE DOG WILL ABSOLUTELY COME TO YOU)
The fact that you may be calling your dog without having his attention at all (HAVE YOUR DOG'S ATTENTION)
If you are more valuable than the distractions (MAKE SURE YOU ARE OFFERING SOMETHING VALUABLE)

Where to start to build a strong recall:

  • Make sure your dog knows his name and that it means to look at you (START WITH THIS AS A WARM UP, INSIDE, ON LEASH)
  • Build value for your dog being at your side and engaging with you (REWARD NEXT TO YOU AND OFTEN PRAISE WHEN THE DOG COMES TO YOU
  • Let your dog NEED YOU (do not always be so obsessed that you are following your dog everywhere, let him come to you)

Sample Session (all within 5 minutes or less)

  1. leash your dog and have a high value of food in your hand
  2. call your dog's name, if he looks, reward at your side
  3. if he is offering focus, you can still reward (just create a pattern, not that you need to reward everytime) 
  4. you can also do this with the toy, and play with the toy if he stays engaged
  5. if you have good focus you can remove the leash, increase distance, etc. remain indoors
  6. do not do this for too long...if the dog has it...he has it. take a break or move on

Sample Session (moving outdoors)

  1. move your session outdoors, on a short leash where there are minimal distractions
  2. call your dog's name, if he looks, reward at your side
  3. if your dog is not looking...it is too much for the dog and you need to find a place of less value/distractions
  4. we are simply rewarding for our dog's engagement, choosing to stay connected with us...becoming valuable 

These indoor and outdoor sessions should be repeated throughout the day, multiple times. Once better value is built, then we can move to a longer leash, more distractions, etc. 

Board & Train: Daycare 7/26/2017

The same skills done during yesterday's daycare were done again today. We want to build on the crating until it is successful in your home. I would like him driving from distance to his crate and holding position because he understands the value. 

We will work focus and engagement and eventually ask for longer eye contact, sits and downs. 

  1. Crate Training/Crating Incrementally (still no issues)

  2. Release Cue (for exiting out of crate, value building for crate)

  3. Marker Word (Yes, or use of a clicker)

  4. Focus & Engagement (learning name and responding to it)

  5. Luring with a Treat (enticing to follow)

  6. Impulse Control 

  7. Toy Play


"Yes" Marker or a clicker (utilizing focus & engagement)

A very easy warm-up game utilizing your marker word or a clicker. Do not spend more than 1-2 minutes on this warm-up drill. This is a great way to begin your session after releasing from the crate. 

Say "Spencer" once and allow him time to think about his answer. Set him up for success. Try not to call if eating or distracted. Start this indoors, then increase distractions by taking it elsewhere

Exercise: Impulse Control (leading to ‘Leave It’)

Here is one of the first few sessions with this. He is play biting and pawing a lot - that is fine - however, sessions should be kept short so he does not get bored. We are just waiting for a split second of impulse to reward. 

Once Spencer understands keeping back (staying back from hand with food or floor with food) you can start adding movement of food and also requiring eye contact BEFORE rewarding. 

Sit & Down

  • Keep in mind that focus exercises and simple skills such as sit and down will tire out your pup!
  • Start your session with the MARKER WORD drill (name game) to get your dog's attention

Skill: Sits/Downs

Exercise: Sits/Downs

Criteria: Drills are done In front
Progression: Variation of front and heel position (on your side). You also will want to transition from being on the floor with your dog, to up on your knees, to partially bent over, to standing up right. You can also then start doing these particular drills in more challenging environments. Adding in distance, distraction, and duration.
            Do you need a treat? Do you need a hand signal? Brainstorm with your training sessions so if something is not working, you can stop and figure it out...but not at your dog's expense

Toy Play

If Spencer is telling us he likes to play with toys, we should take advantage of that. He will work for toys, so we just need to build off the value and fun they can bring. This is also something we can use outdoors to get him to engage with us. 

Board & Train: Daycare 7/25/2017


  1. Be sure you are crating incrementally WHILE YOU ARE HOME and utilize your release cue to let him out of the crate. Also, do not force him into the crate - rather hold him and wait for him to CHOOSE to go in. 
  2. When his meal goes down give him 5 minutes to eat it. If he walks away or is disinterested, pick it up and put it down next meal. Try not to "feel bad" or think he is hungry or looking for food. We are teaching him to eat what is given, when it is given. This will also prevent him from being a grazer but rather taking advantage when the opportunity arises. It is a "nothing in life is free" method. 
  3. Try to come up with his hierarchy of rewards: favorite food, favorite toys, etc - and have a known order. I strongly feel if the food bowl is picked up he will be more responsive to food rewards
  4. Work his exposure and touch sensitivity. Introduce him to new objects and encourage to explore and touch them. Touch his ears, tail, paws, nails, etc all the time and reward for his allowance of you doing that. (This should help with nail trimming, ear cleaning, etc).
  5. Reward behaviors you like and ignore what you don't like: jumping & play biting. If he jumps, walk away or do not address. If he is sitting nicely, tell him what a super dog he is. If he play bites, stop the game. If he continues, pick him up and send him to his crate to relax and regroup. Trading out with a toy or chew is great - if it has value. 


  • The foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship.
  • Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
  • Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess (in your expectations).
  • 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.  

Four Types of Rewards

  1. Food
  2. Toy play (toy play is great so you do not always have to use food)
  3. Verbal praise
  4. Physical Praise (petting)

Hierarchy of Rewards: Find out the minimal amount your dogs will work for (I would say KIBBLE!). You do not want to cook steak every time you want your dog to do something. If they will work for their kibble, let kibble be the reward (you can feed meals through training)

My dog Settler's favorite thing in the world is a  tennis ball . It is at the top of list in terms of a reward. However, I need to think about what I am training as well as my motivator. I do not want to be working on "calm" behaviors and rewarding with a tennis ball which stimulates him where he cannot be calm. I also need to think about the position I need to be in and if my reward allows me to feed my dog in the position (example teaching a sit and then throwing the ball for sitting is not necessarily marking the correct behavior).

My dog Settler's favorite thing in the world is a tennis ball. It is at the top of list in terms of a reward. However, I need to think about what I am training as well as my motivator. I do not want to be working on "calm" behaviors and rewarding with a tennis ball which stimulates him where he cannot be calm. I also need to think about the position I need to be in and if my reward allows me to feed my dog in the position (example teaching a sit and then throwing the ball for sitting is not necessarily marking the correct behavior).

Training treats (or kibble) should be small and easy to eat. You do not want your dog crunching on a milk bone while you are trying to perform repetitions of a drill.   Once your dog is performing something easily and consistently it is not necessary to reward every time. Perhaps physical or verbal praise is enough. However, if your dog performs something extremely fast or well, a food reward may be nice. You want to get the food off your body as fast as possible so the dog learns you have access to food - not that they will only do something WHEN you have food. 

Training treats (or kibble) should be small and easy to eat. You do not want your dog crunching on a milk bone while you are trying to perform repetitions of a drill. 

Once your dog is performing something easily and consistently it is not necessary to reward every time. Perhaps physical or verbal praise is enough. However, if your dog performs something extremely fast or well, a food reward may be nice. You want to get the food off your body as fast as possible so the dog learns you have access to food - not that they will only do something WHEN you have food. 

Today's work: 7/25/2017


  1. Outdoor Exploration (no expectations, just familiarization)

  2. Crate Training/Crating Incrementally

  3. Release Cue (for exiting out of crate, value building for crate)

  4. Marker Word (Yes, or use of a clicker)

  5. Focus & Engagement (learning name and responding to it)

  6. Touch Sensitivity

  7. Resource Guarding (being able to take objects away from your dog without the dog guarding, growling, lunging etc)

3 D’s: Distance, Distraction, Duration (added in to all exercises to increase criteria as your training progresses!) Before we can add in these three elements, make sure we can achieve consistent behaviors indoors or in a low-distraction environment.

Crate Training Basics / Incrementally Crating

  • After outdoor exploration, Spencer was given a crate to settle in (other dogs were around, some in crates, some out)
  • Barked minimally and then fell asleep
    • To me, there was no concern or challenge with crating. He seemed to be appropriately crate trained for his age and did not bark, whine, cause any fits, try to break out etc. I was impressed and happy with what I saw.
  • If you are struggling with crating in your home environment you need to be diligent about crating while you are physically present and not addressing the dog. He needs to know you are serious about him being on his own and not barking or whining to get what he wants

Release Cue = "OKAY"

  • How does your dog know they are free to move? Whether it is releasing from a stay, exiting out a door (including the crate door) you should have a cue that communicates to your dog it is OK to "break!"
  • Start using the word "OKAY" to allow releasing of your dog

Here is Settler at 11 weeks old. We can go through a training session without saying a lot as the RELEASE CUE and the reward marks what should be happening. At this stage he has value for the crate and has been lured into a sit before release (which comes with time and your decision on what you want the behavior to be). This is FUN for him which is why he is CHOOSING to drive back into the crate quickly. Eventually we will expect that of Spencer as well. 

This is something that can be done every day for a short period of time. He should NEVER be allowed to bolt out of the door from this point forward. He should be RELEASED. Once he builds value and understands this is a game and it is fun, he should start driving into the crate the same way the Dalmatian does on the left. 

Marker Word = "YES" (or using a clicker)

  • Should be implemented immediately
  • "YES" is followed by a reward so you should be able to start communicating to your dog when they are doing something correctly

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
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards

Spencer was not interested in any food and was very distracted, so to me we back step until his confidence is up. I will test out other methods of rewarding, however I want him to know that what I am offering is what should be accepted. This should substantially change if you are consistent about removing food when he chooses not to eat it. I would start this immediately as he will be much more willing to work and train. 

Focus & Engagement (Getting a Strong Recall)

  • Without focus, engagement, and value building you have nothing
  • Allow your dog to do something because they want to, not because they have to
  • You can eventually work a recall from a stay once your dog has a strong stay, in the beginning I just use a long line because generally the dog is distracted enough

Skill: Focus Work
Exercise: Name Game, Offered Focus

Criteria: Dog Looks, Dog Makes Eye Contact

  1. Call your dog's name
  2. When they look, mark YES and reward (once the dog OFFERS focus you can reward that as well....slowly move the food off your body)
  3. Increase distance, distractions, duration


Resource Guarding

  1. Give your dog a high value toy, treat or chew
  2. Once the dog is chewing, offer something of higher value. Once you have your dog's attention, take what they were previously chewing on. 
  3. Repeat

You want to be able to take things from your dog without them running away or guarding them - especially if they try to eat something dangerous or unsafe. 

This was not a drill I spent time with Spencer on because he was not engaged enough in anything I gave him - and I still am building his confidence in a new environment.