All great workouts, including mental ones, begin with warmups! Let's put our dog's thinking caps on!
Spend a good 2 minutes working on your foundation, including:
The exercise with the funny noise 😉
The exercise where you make a T with your body.
Sit, Down, Up-Sit
Goal: This is another exercise that will help us to keep coming when called exciting for our dogs!
This also teaches our dogs that coming to you instead of the temptation will result in more rewards than just being impulsive and snatching the treat first.
1) Set up a triangle where you are one point, your dog is one point, and a potholder is the third point.
2) Hold your dog back and place a treat on the pot holder.
3) Recall your dog past the treat on the pot holder and reward them for coming when called. Then release them to go get the treat on the potholder.
Pop-Up Stand & Folding Down
Let's do some conditioning with our dogs!
To Lure a Pop-Up Stand:
1) Start with your dog in a seated position.
2) Then take the lure from their nose and tuck it into their chest to get them to pop their butt up into a standing position.
To Lure a Folding Down:
1) Start with your dog in a standing position.
2) Then take a treat in your left hand and bend your wrist all the way back.
3) Now take the lure from your dog's nose and push into them at a diagonal angle to get them to fold down into a laying down position.
Goal: To teach our dogs to be comfortable with us touching their collars and to concede to the pressure we are applying to them, not fight it.
1) Grab your dog's collar. Then say "yes" or click, release their collar from your hand, and give them a treat!
Try grabbing their collar in several different places!
2) Repeat, but this time apply a little pressure by lifting their collar slightly upwards. Then say "yes" or click, release your hand from their collar, and give them a treat!
3) Repeat, but this time apply a little pressure forward to get them to take a step. As soon as they take a step, say "yes" or click, release your hand from their collar, and give them a treat!
If they are doing well, try to get them to take a few steps!
Goal: To keep coming when called exciting and rewarding for our dogs!
1) Grab a partner and have them hold your dog's leash (preferably their longline) while you walk about 20 feet away from your dog.
Make sure your dog is clipped to the back clip of their harness for this exercise.
2) Call your dog excitedly!
3) Have your partner let your dog run to you excitedly while still holding their leash, but not applying any pressure. This is called a restrained recall.
4) Repeat, but this time have your partner hold back your dog a bit and apply a bit of back pressure to them as your dog runs to you. Then when your dog is close to you, have your partner stop applying pressure and let your dog shoot into you. This is called a drag-in recall.
If you are practicing this one solo, click HERE to see how!
I recommend practicing recalls on leash so that your dog does not have the option of blowing you off (not coming when called) since you can reel them in! You can see Togo and I do this at the end of the video!
Snout to Tail Assessment
Goal: To teach your dog to be comfortable being handled and examined.
Be sure to feed your dog treats throughout this exercise to keep it a positive experience!
Examine your dog's face and take a look at:
- Their eyes
- Their ears - and smell them!
- Their mouth - check out their gums and teeth
- Their nose
Feel down your dog's spine all the way down to their tail. And check out their tail. Make sure everything feels and looks right.
Touch their belly (as long as they haven't been spayed or neutered recently) and feel for any out of place lumps and bumps.
Feel down one of their legs and touch one of their paws. Touch the toes on that paw too.
Goal: To work on weaning our dogs off of treats while heeling.
1) Have a partner call out heeling commands to you and your dog to keep the exercise engaging.
2) Work on fading your treat lure by heeling a 1-2 steps with the treat lure, letting your dog have the treat, then heeling a 1-2 steps with vocal engagement (talking to your dog).
You may need to start with just one step without a treat lure - that is okay! Slow progress is permanent progress! SLOWLY increase the number of steps you are vocally engaging with your dog between treat lures.
3) Repeat step 2 throughout your heeling practice.
Stays with Distractions
Goal: To teach our dogs to stay despite any environmental distractions.
1) Get your dog into a nice stable down-stay position on a lifted park-it of sorts.
2) Have a partner drag a leach clip-side down passed you and your dog.
Repeat "stay" and feed the mat to keep your dog's stay stable!
3) If that went well, clip a stuffed toy to the leash and repeat step two with your new distraction.
Tips for Building Solid Stays
In this video, I talk about a few tips for building solid stays like:
- Paying the mat, not the dog.
- If you notice that your dog is about to break their stay, give their release command before they do it, so that it was your idea they got up, not theirs.
- Do NOT practice stays and recalls back to back
- If your dog is often getting up before you release them, you are moving too fast. Take a step back and use more treats to rewards them.
- When increasing the duration of stays (how long your dog is staying), you must decrease distance (how far you are standing away from your dog while they are staying)
Accepting a Friendly Stranger
Goal: Our dog remains mannerly by our side while we interact with someone.
Exercise: Grab a partner for this one!
1) Get your dog into a nice stable sit-stay position.
2) Have your partner approach you and have a little chat with them. Keep the chat short while your dog is first learning this exercise!
You may find it helpful to repeat "stay" to your dog to remind them of what you'd like them to be doing.
Goal: To work on another way to get our dog's into the position that we'd like them in.
Touch is particularly useful at bath time! Instead of dogs bearing down and resisting turning around in the tub, you can use touch to easily get them in the position you'd like in the tub.
1) Hold two fingers about 2 inches from your dog's nose. Click and reward them when they touch your fingers. Repeat 5-10 times.
2) Move your fingers to different positions around your dog's face, but NOT above their head. Also, don't place your fingers more than 12 inches from your dog's nose. Click and reward when they touch your fingers.
3) Place your fingers on various things around the room (your shoe, the wall, your knee, etc.) and continue to click and reward when they touch your fingers.
4) Use touch to do a leg weave! First, lure them through a leg weave so they learn the game, then try it with touch.
To do a leg weave: Take a big step forward, lure your dog through your legs, and repeat! Once they have the hang of it, replace your lure hand with your touch fingers.
Let's teach our dogs a fun trick - Crawl!
Start with your dog in a laying down position, take a lure from their nose and slowly move it forward dragging your hand along the ground to get your dog to scooch forward without getting up.
If your dog is getting up often, try moving your lure hand slower.
Continue Working On
Sit to Say Please to Exit
Try this at several different exits around your home!
Click HERE to see the Sit to Say Please to Exit video.