Let's Talk about Fear Periods

Our dogs will go through several "fear periods" in their lives. They will typically hit one around 6 months old (our dogs that moved up from puppy classes may be seeing this now!) and one around 18 months old. The 6 month one lasts right around a month or so and the 18 month one lasts right around 3 weeks or so (but it's worse!).

During these times in their lives, they will often be both fearful and forgetful. So one week they are totally rock solid in "sit" and the next week they have no idea what that word means. Getting them to come when called?! Good luck! They may also be fearful of something - anything really. It could be as simple as a tree in the neighborhood. Do NOT make them confront this fear - it will NOT help!

Have sympathy for yourself and your dog during this time and go back to basics with their training. As long as you stay the course, your dog WILL pick their brain back up and put it back in their head. Being a teenager is hard!

It's Your Choice

This exercise helps us to curb our dog's barking. But it can be easily overdone! If it is overdone, our dogs will lose drive into our hands which we do NOT want. If we lose our dog's drive into our hand, we will lose the ability to lure them to do what we would like them to do.

Exercise: 

1) Get a few treats in one hand and shut them in your fist.

2) Get down with your dog and anchor your elbow to your knee.

3) Your dog will likely go after your hand because they know treats are in it.

4) Once they stop going after your fist, open your fist up so you have an open palm of treats. Your dog will likely go after your open palm of treats, so you have to be quick to shut your fist and make sure they do not get the treats.

5) Repeat step four until they are leaving your open palm of treats alone for 3-5 seconds. Once they do that, take a treat out of your open palm with your other hand and give it to your dog. Do not let you dog take the treat from your open hand.

Clicker Training

Clicker training is very beneficial! Clickers provide clarity to your dog, help you to wean off of treats faster, help you to mark the moment your dog has done what you asked - plus, clicker training is the only way to teach distance commands!

Exercise:

Let's start by charging our clickers! We need to teach our dogs that the click of the clicker equals a treat.

So, to charge your clicker, simply click your clicker and give a treat to your dog. Do not ask your dog to do anything, just click and reward.

Clickers & Focus Trees

Goal: Teach your dog that looking at you (and not the treat in your hand) is rewarding! 

Exercise:

1) Place a treat in your left hand and your clicker in your right hand

2) Hold your arms out straight from your sides like you are making a T with your body.

3) Ask your dog one time & ONE TIME ONLY to "focus" (or "watch-me" or "eyes" or whatever word you'd like to use here to mean that you want your dog to look at you).

4) As soon as they look you in the eye, click, and give them the treat in your left hand.

5) Once they get the hang of it, add in some movement with your reward! (After you click, quickly take a few steps back, and give them the reward.)

Clickers & Sit

Goal: Mark the exact moment that your dog has sat after you asked them to sit.

Exercise:

1) Place a treat in your left hand and put it behind your back. This is your locked and loaded lure.

2) Say "sit" one time and one time ONLY.

3) If your dog does not sit immediately, pull your locked and loaded lure out from behind your back and lure your dog into position.

For a sit take the lure from their nose and move your hand backwards towards their back to get them to plop their butt down.

4) As soon as they sit, click, and give them the treat in your left hand that you used as a lure.

Clickers & Down

Goal: Mark the exact moment that your dog has laid down after you asked them to down.

Exercise:

1) Place a treat in your left hand and put it behind your back. This is your locked and loaded lure.

2) Say "down" one time and one time ONLY.

3) If your dog does not lay down immediately, pull your locked and loaded lure out from behind your back and lure your dog into position.

For a down from a seated position, take the lure from their nose and move your hand down towards the ground between their feet to get them to lay all the way down.

4) As soon as they lay down, click, and give them the treat in your left hand that you used as a lure.

Foot Targets

Goal: To teach our dogs that keeping their feet busy on foot targets is rewarding!

Exercise:

1) Take a treat in your left hand and lure your dog from their nose upward (nice and high!) over the foot target. 

2) As soon as they put a foot on the foot target, click, and reward them.

The first time they put a foot on the foot target it will be on accident, that's okay! They will put it together that you want them to put their feet on the foot target.

You can buy a foot target at Farm and Fleet or on Amazon (Click HERE for small/medium dogs and HERE for large dogs over 65 lbs.)

 

Using Foot Targets to Curb Jumping on Visitors

Do you have a dog that gets REALLY excited when people come over? You can use foot targets to help curb that enthusiasm!

Here's how:

1) Place the bucket 15 feet away from the door, where the dog can see the door and have the dog on leash to teach them the exercise until they are 100% at it.

2) Have a household member leave out the front door, close it, and knock.

3) You have your dog go up on the bucket and feed OFTEN!

4) The household member comes in after the dog is solid on the bucket. If the dog comes off of the target, the person the came inside freezes while you get the dog back on the bucket and feed, feed, FEED.

THE FOOT TARGET HAS TO BE MORE FUN THAN THE PERSON! FEED IT! 

Heeling with Foot Targets

Goal: To heel with your dog in short and structured pieces.

Exercise:

1) Set up several foot targets or foot-target-like objects around an area that you'll practice heeling in.

2) Get your dog into heel position (leash in your right hand, treat in your left hand, and dog on your left side). 

3) Heel with your dog from one foot target to the next with a treat lure down in front of them.

Sit to Say Please

Goal: To teach your dog to sit for the things they want as if they are saying please.

Exercise:

No commands for this one! We want to let our dogs to think, not always instruct them.

1) Grab a food bowl and charge it (just like we did with the clicker) by placing a few treat in it, setting it down, and letting your dog to eat the treats. Do that at least three times so they know good things come from the bowl.

2) Now put a few treats in the bowl and wait for your dog to sit down WITHOUT commanding them to do so.

3) Once your dog sits, begin to move your body like an elevator down toward the ground. If your dog stands up, you stand up. As long as your dog remains seated, you continue to move towards the ground.

4) Once you get to the ground with your dog seated, set the bowl down on the ground and let them eat the treats in it.

Once your dog gets the hang of it, start moving towards the ground at a slower speed.

Stays

Before we start working on stays, let's work on getting our dogs on lifted park-it mats. Practicing stays on something lifted a few inches off the ground helps to provide them clarity on where exactly stay is. Check out my favorite lifted park-it mats HERE.

Exercise: 

1) Grab something you can use as a lifted park-it mat and practice luring your dog up on it.

2) Once they get the hang of that, practice getting them up on it, then getting a sit and a down from them while they are on the lifted park-it mat.

Building Duration with Treats

Goal: To teach our dogs that staying is more rewarding than getting up.

Exercise: 

1) Lure your dog up onto their lifted park-it mat.

2) Get them into a sit and then a down on the lifted park-it mat.

3) Say "stay" and drop a treat on the lifted park-it mat to "pay the mat," and then release your dog (give them a command that means they can get up). That is a 1-cookie-stay.

4) Once you have the hang of that, bring to a 2-cookie-stay. Lure them up, get a sit, get a down, say "stay," drop a cookie on the mat, say "stay" again, drop a cookie on the mat again, and release your dog from their stay.

5) Once you have the hang of that, take it to a 3-cookie-stay. Lure them up, get a sit, get a down, "stay," drop a cookie, "stay," drop a cookie, "stay," drop a cookie, & release them!

Be sure to pay the mat, NOT the dog (drop cookies on the mat after saying stay, do not put them in your dog's mouth) or they will learn to meet you halfway for their treat and break their stay.

Sit Pretty

Let's teach our dogs a fun trick - Sit Pretty!

Start with your dog in a seated position and take a lure from their nose back and upwards to get your dog to bring their front feet up, but leave their bottom on the ground.

This exercise is a core workout for your dog, so don't expect them to do too many in a row!

Sit to Say Please to Exit

One of my favorite times to practice Sit to Say Please is when exiting doors. This will help teach your dogs not to run out the door which can save their lives!

Exercise:

1) Sit your dog and stay your dog.

2) Open up the door. If they try to shoot through the door, shut it quickly, but carefully (do NOT shut the door on them).

3) Once you have the door open and they have remained seated, "release" them to go through the doorway (give their release command and let them go through the doorway).

Continue Working On

Foundation Recalls
The exercise with the funny noise 😉
Click
HERE for the Foundation Recall video