Board & Train

  1. Stay & feeding from different positions (he defaults to front big time)
  2. Keeping feet still for rewarding
  3. Lure to heel
  4. Bed/cot
  5. Paws on a disc

I did not intend on pulling Wrigley aside for recall - however, since I had him out with the social and young dogs, I wanted to throw him in the mix as two other dogs on scene are also working recall. 

He was not as hyped up (although the same treats as the cot drill) - so you can see how environment affects your rewards and their values. Obviously there are more distractions, etc so it may lessen the value of a person or the motivator being used. 

Generally I do not suggest reaching for the dog to feed - however since I had a lot of dogs, I was trying to maneuver over them to get to him. 

He is making big strides with the bed! Next step is getting him to stay put, sending him from distance, and adding in other distractions. He is confident with new surfaces, so I am happing to see his progression with the cot. We will do some brain storming on getting him to find it valuable to hold position when you or I move - as he wants to always see your face or be in front where the treats come from.  

Daycare: Monday 3/5

Sending to a bed continued....

Where is he at for you? Is he driving onto bed and offering a sit or a down? Is he not getting on? Sometimes the dog will be at different places because he is in different locations with different people. 

Some people will even take a mat with them in public so their dog sends and stays down once the skill is strong enough. It is an easy placeholder for stay as well since they have the physical limitations of the mat - just a step forward from the four walls of the crate!

Daycare: 2/26

New Skill! Sending to a Bed or Mat

Daycare: Tuesday 2/13

Right now, do not attempt the full circle. Just a half circle. If he shifts, so not reward, just tell him good try and reset. 

When you reset, do not reward. For things he is REALLY good at (sit and down) it is not necessary to reward in easy environments because it is easy for him - so we can reduce the reinforcer. 

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. We are "proofing" the behaviors. This is how we get strong foundations despite anything else that may be going on. #selfcontrol


Start with a container of food on the floor. Makes sure what you are rewarding with is HIGHER VALUE than what is on the floor. If he is not staying back - keep the container covered to prevent self reinforcement if he goes after it. 

Start sitting, and move into kneeling and eventually standing straight up. You want your dog to perform various behaviors DESPITE the open container of food. This is working through distractions! Yay! 

As he gets better and better you can up your distraction (favorite food, toy, etc).

For now, work your sits, downs, hand touches, and stays with an open container of food on the floor. If he won't leave it alone, think about the placement of the container. 

Ideally, we do not even want him sniffing the container, we want him to leave it and focus. 


Daycare: Monday 1/29

Hand Touch & Lure to Heel

If he constantly defaults to a down you can try to reset, wait him out (to see if he gets up and is motivated to guess something else), or just stop the session. When he makes it through skills WITHOUT defaulting to the down, have a big celebration. I would say you can majorly reduce reinforcement on asking him to down since he enjoys it so much. 

I had a fairly low value reward, so just keep in mind the hierarchy of your rewards depending on what you are working on. 

Daycare: Thursday 1/25/2018

It is great you are taking him out and about and working his skills. That is the way a dog learns. As long as he is listening and is not being over-faced I think the environment sounds like a successful working environment. 

You can also take him to new places - with no distractions to just work on focus. I would keep him on a long line or leash, but allowing him to sniff and explore, and when he chooses to engage, rewarding him. 

As he gets better and better I would reduce your reinforcement and use other things as a motivator. Example: kids wants to say hi you may be using food. Eventually praise from the new person should be the reward. If he does not act calm and controlled, or give a sit, then he does not get pet. As long as you are consistent, he will catch on. A sit is a requirement for my dog to get pet as long as we are in an environment I know he can handle. 

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Daycare: Monday 1/22/2018


  • Don't forget to continue with your basic skills! We are going to go into sending Wrigley to a mat/bed and eventually to walking on a loose leash. All of the basic skills will help with this a lot as it build value. 
  • Sits and Downs (let's get these in heel position as well)
  • Name Game
  • Start of the Stay
  • Luring to Heel (eventually you should be able to tap your side and have him shift into position)

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: Monday 1/15


Let me just start by saying I am thoroughly impressed with Wrigley. He has really shown a lot of growth just in our training relationship. I understand some of the more difficult and impulsive behaviors (jumping) may take a while, but he is certainly becoming a wonderful training partner to interact with. Great job working with him and being consistent.

Assignment 5:

  1. Start working the skills SIT and DOWN in HEEL position. On your side, facing the same direction as you. 
  2. Continue your down and continue to reduce the LURE of the down. 
  3. Continue your focus work and SITS, however, reduce reinforcers by not rewarding on each one, and/or moving the food off your body (put on a counter and run and get the reward together)
  4. Begin your STAY

I am still helping with my body movement on the down and THEN tossing the lure in between the paws.

I am also starting to move so he understands my movement does not dictate his release (going into the stay).

He is starting to have and "on/off" switch so I feel that I can get excited and excite him, but still have his focus and attention to complete the task at hand (THIS IS AWESOME!)

I have also put him in an environment with others dogs around. Even though crated, he did quite well considering I increased distractions.

Starting the stay! I am seeing where he is at in this video (have not named the behavior)

:12-:15 asking for a sit, backing up and returning quickly. Again, my movement does not dictate his movement. I am returning and rewarding to build value for him staying in position

:32 he ends up breaking (went back too far or timing too slow), so I simply reset and try again. It is OK, just say "uh oh" and try again!

:39-:43 moving laterally as well

:48 seconds I work on turning him "on" to get excited and have fun with what he has done. It is another form of a reward - just praise! The dog in the crate barks and startles him. 

After that he becomes stressed and uncomfortable. I do work to get his attention, but am giving free food - not asking a lot because now we have a challenge that popped up that we need to face. 

Daycare: Wednesday 1/10/2018

Assignment 4:

  1. Begin your sessions with focus and asking for sits. Work your downs from and upright position and name the behavior as his elbows touch the ground
  2. Start implementing value for a hand touch. Hand touches are also a great leeway into touching objects, especially those a dog may be fearful of. Today I introduced the Manners Minder which allows treating from a distance and food not coming from my body.


As Wrigley's elbows touch the floor you say "down." We are pairing the word with the action. Work on these as much as possible. Make sure to lure right now and as he understands it better we will go into reducing the reinforcer opposed to luring the entire way down with the treat. 

Manners Minder

Hand Touch

I have started this drill sitting next to him. You can sit, stand, move around. sit on a chair, etc. You do not have to be right next to him. Generally I start there since I want the success rate to be very high and since he is lower to the ground that is where I start as well. 



Just like Assignment 2, with the 10 free treats (trying to distribute as fast as possible) I will also give free food from the Manners Minder because it is new (maybe a little scary). Food comes out automatically and the beep represents the marker. 

While you won't be able to this particular drill since you do not have the Manners Minder you can start putting treats on the counter (off your body) and asking for sits and focus WITHOUT food physically on your body, but rather on the counter. 

This is the beginning to reducing reinforcers with behaviors he knows or is starting to understand.


Daycare: Monday 1/8/2018

Assignment 3:

  1. Before each session at home, warm up with your focus (from Assignment 2) and transition into working SITS and DOWNS. You want your dog to perform these behaviors in the long term understanding the verbal cues - not being dependent off your body language. Be patient and try to just say your commands once! If he is not getting it, reevaluate your training scenario. 
  2. Continue to incrementally crate at home, and make sure you are not having to chase him to get him to go into the crate. Always reward generously and reduce reinforcers after he is consistently WANTING to go to the crate. If he is not WANTING to go to the crate you are A) not crating enough B) your rewards are not high value enough. You can also feed in the crate, etc to build value. 
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Daycare: Thursday 1/4/2018

Assignment 2:

  1. Continue Assignment 1 on a daily basis right now. Remember, you are always training, even when you are not training. Whatever you allow is reinforced. What you ignore or change will make a difference. BE CONSISTENT. Utilizing the crate will give him confidence and independence and he should have a lesser need to be so concerned looking for something opening your upstairs doors. Yes, I know, crazy that it would be related at all.
  2. TRY as best you can to set 2-5 minutes aside 2-3X per day and complete Video 1. We are building value and beginning to teach FOCUS. Great for the kids. Kneel, sit, stand, sit on couch, etc. Also can move to higher distraction areas as gets better. If NOT taking food....environement too distracting, or your dog is stressed.
  3. TRY as best you can to set 2-5 minutes aside 2-3X per day between Video 1 and 2 (depending on where he is at) to reinforce him for addressing that you have called his name and/or offered focus.


Video 1

This is a great drill anyone in the family can do.

Keep in mind I am starting LOW to the ground at his level. Therefore he has no need to jump up. As you progress and are standing giving "free food" only the EXACT behaviors you LIKE should be rewarded. DON'T FEED FOR BEHAVIORS YOU DO NOT LIKE.

If he would start barking, jumping, mouthing, or getting too rambunctious the drill simply stops, the dog is ignored, or is redirected to his crate for a few minutes before resuming. 


Sample of the "marker" word and its importance: your dog NEEDS to know when they are doing something correctly so they can continue to perform the appropriate behaviors.

Instead of using a "yes" marker I am simply clicking with my mouth (same thing as use of a clicker). My dog understands that both yes and/or click means YES I like what you are doing.

I was teaching my dog to retrieve my sandals. When teaching a behavior, there is a behavior chain. We must reward the little behaviors that bring us to the end result. 

:05 (I am STARING at the sandal, not my dog because I want him to touch the sandal...again not asking/telling/showing him anything) As soon as he touches the sandal, I click and reward. TOUCHING then leads to putting TEETH on, which then leads to PICKING UP, which then leads to BRINGING to me.

Video 2

***Reward placement: we do not want him jumping therefore the spot of value is by our knee.

When I toss a treat at 1:18, I do not call him immediately as he is busy. I AM NOT GOING TO SET HIM UP TO FAILY. Once he is done chewing, THEN I call him. 

The YES marker is imperative. As we continue training new behaviors, telling our dog YES is going to indicate to our dog that YES, you are doing what I want in the behavior chain.


:08 touches again so I reward. YES, this dog has a STRONG foundation of behaviors that have been rewarded so he is easy to train because I have put time into distributing free food (Wrigley video above), rewarding for him responding to his name and offering focus. Therefore, training him to do this is something HE WANTS and ENJOYS doing. He is not being forced. No leash, no shock collar, no correcting, no punishing, no getting upset. He is CHOOSING to do it because it is fun, therefore it becomes more reliable.

:10 he puts teeth on and moves it. That tells me in my mind THE CRITERIA RAISED. NOW YOU UNDERSTAND I WANT TEETH! I move the sandal to stimulate prey drive (prey drives my dog's excitement, so I mock that). Once I realize he understands teeth and bringing to me, that is what I expect every time. When consistent I can name the behavior "bring it to me" etc.

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! 

  1. Start incrementally crating Wrigley WHILE YOU ARE HOME anywhere between 10 minutes to a few hours, at least 3-5 times per day. Ignore (includes talking to/making eye contact) the whining and never let out if whining or barking. 

  2. When releasing out of the crate, start utilizing your "OK" release cue. This will teach him impulse control...doing one thing to achieve another (or reach the reward...which would be getting out of the crate) VIDEO BELOW: "OK"

  3. Anytime Wrigley jumps up (on any family member) he needs to be completely IGNORED. Do not talk to, do not touch. Simply walk away. If he is persistent he should be kindly redirected to his crate (positively!) Grab his collar and walk him there to prevent the hiding underneath the bed.



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

  •  Jumping
  • Leave It (socks)
  • Recall or "come"
  • Stay
  • Hiding
  • Barking/nipping/mouthing


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. 


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. 

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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