Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers
Your dog knows their name, responds to "touch", knows how to follow a lure and understands that a marker/clicker means a job well done that is followed by a good reward. Your dog has also learned how to ask for things by sitting down and making eye contact with you. You can start using these skills to teach more advanced concepts to your dog.
Loose Leash Walking
- Start practicing loose leash walking in a quiet place without distractions. Inside your home is ideal. Start with your dog on one side of your body, on a leash. Teach them how to stay in step with you by reinforcing them when they're parallel with you, facing in the same direction, with their nose at the same level as the seam of your pants.
- Stand with your dog at your side and a treat in your hand. You can use a word like "walk", "this way", or "with me" and move one step forward. When your dog catches up with you, praise and reward them, and repeat.
- Once your dog follows you, increase the number of steps before rewarding them. Change direction, walk in zigzag, and have your dog get back at your side. Reward them each time they catch up with you.
- Once your dog is doing well, try loose leash walking outside in front of the house and then further into the neighborhood.
- Recall, or coming when called, can be a life-saving cue for your dog. Make the task easy at first. Start in your house. Get excited, this should be fun! Call your dog to you from short distances (1-5 feet away). Praise and reward your dog when they come.
- Increase the distance as your dog progresses. Put them on a long line (20ft.) and practice outside.
- Your dog might need to learn how to settle when you are talking to someone, watching television, or reading a book. Have your dog on leash, with only about 2 feet of slack for roaming. Ignore your dog if they're fidgety. When they lay down on their own, praise and reward them. More information about "settle"
- Note: If your dog guards things, get help from a qualified behaviorist or trainer.
- It's critical for your dog to learn how to drop things that they shouldn't have grabbed. Practice "drop it" with toys, stuffed Kong® toys, or bully sticks. Present one toy to your dog and let them enjoy it for a few seconds. Ask them to "drop it" and then present them with another toy that's at least equally enticing. If your dog drops the toy from their mouth, reward them with the new toy. Repeat the exercise a few times. Once your dog knows how to release a lower-value toy, practice with higher-value objects.
- Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose. Move your hand straight down towards the ground (encouraging the dog to follow it). When they lie down, praise them and give them a treat. More information about "down"
- If your dog knows how to "sit" or "lay down," but doesn't stay in position for long, you should teach them how to "stay."
- Help your dog understand "stay" using the 3 D's (Duration, Distance, and Distractions). Start with one of these at a time. First, increase the duration of their "sit" in 1-10 second increments by delaying the time to give them praise and a reward. Once your dog understands this, start stepping away from your dog. One step, go back, reward. Two steps, go back, reward. When you can reliably put your dog in a "sit" or "down" and "stay" from a fair distance, it's time to add distractions.
- Teach your dog to refocus on you around distractions. When your dog is sniffing an object that you don't want them to pick up or is watching a squirrel and is ready to chase, the cue "leave it" should help them ignore the distraction. When your dog leaves the object, praise and reward them.