Core Manners Sign Up

While we are in social isolation now, it will not last forever. We hope to be back together again in the beginning of April. With that said, even in the unlikely event it is extended, online learning will continue, as well as new options. We are looking into using Zoom meetings so there can be more interaction and real time feedback!

Core Manners exclusive signup for current STAR participants is extended due to COVID. On Friday March 27th registration will open to the public. Use the code "STAR-move-up" to get $5 off!


NOTE: Upon initial signup, it will look like the 3:15p class is at 2pm. Our program is showing you the time of the first class ONLY. After orientation, all other classes are 3:15p.


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:

Foundation recalls
The exercise with the funny noise 😉.

Puppy Pushups
Sit, Down, Sit.
Say it, lure it if necessary, say "yes!" when they do it, & reward! Keep in mind the "lures vs. bribes" handout from last week.

Nose Touch
Your puppy touches your fingers or hand with their nose, click & reward.

Chase Recalls
Heel forward, foundation recall backwards. This merges heeling with recalls and creates a more focused dog with less pulling.

Doggie Burpees with clicker

Goal: Muscle memory, fast response, great also for future warmups.

Exercise: Sit, Down, Sit, Stand, repeat. Be sure to HIDE your treat so it isn't a bribe. However, you must have it in your hand so you have a lure if needed. If your dog blows you off and you don't have a lure, you're only left with reaching into your treat bag for one and your dog is sure to know it! Then it turns into a bribe.

Sit to Say Please

Goal: Teach impulse control & general good house manners. Also teach dogs to stop running out the door, which can save their life!

1) Place 1-2 low value treats in a dog food dish & just place it immediately to the floor for your dog to eat freely. Repeat 3 times.

2) Place 1-2 treats into the food dish & slowly start to put it to the floor. If your dog jumps, stand up so the bowl is out of reach, be still like a tree, & completely ignore your dog. Once they calm down, try again. If they remain calm the whole way to the floor, you can release them to eat it.

Refrain from giving your dog commands during this process. That only teaches them that you can tell them what to do, it doesn't teach them to know what to do on their own. 

Your dog should sit to say please whenever: getting pet, getting the leash on, going through outside doorways, before getting on furniture, & before meals.


Foot Targets

This is a FOUNDATION EXERCISE, which means we will use it to teach many other exercises in practical life!

We spend a lot of time telling our dogs what NOT to do with their feet (don't jump on people, counters, furniture, etc). However, it's far more effective to teach your dog what TO DO with their feet instead! This is often met with skepticism, until tried! A well-taught foot target can help with:

  • Jumping on house guests (below)!
  • They can be used as a tool to help work on Heeling (next week).
  • Teaching the potty button (below).
  • Advanced obedience such as distance commands and a "flashy" performance (upper level classes!).


Exercise: Lure your dog onto a 4 or 5 quart feed pan found at Farm & Fleet or Amazon as shown in the video. Do NOT pick your dog's paw up and set it on the bucket, regardless of how tempting that is! Teach your dog that they can do it themselves, not that you can do it for them. Repeat this exercise by encouraging your dog off the bucket (NO treats!) and then rewarding with treats when they are on the bucket to build value for the bucket.

Teach the Potty Button
1) Lure your puppy onto the potty button (use any noise button- get creative!) just like you did the bucket.

2) Every time you take your puppy outside, reward them for stepping on the potty button.

3) Soon your puppy will be stepping on the button to go outside without you prompting. When he/she does, you must take them outside, even if they were just out 2 minutes ago. Yes your puppy will start to take advantage of the button just to spend time outside. Keep them on leash. You don't have to keep them outside. It can be a quick 30 seconds, literally! The only rule is that they have to go out, not for how long.

Teach no jumping on house guests
Once your dog loves the bucket, it can be used to help teach your dog not to jump on house guests! To do this, start with putting treats outside for your guest to bring with. Then place the bucket 15'-20' from your front door, where it can be seen easily. Your dog should be on leash at first, so you have control and can offer guidance.

1) When your guest enters, they should toss the treats behind the dog (who is likely running to the person) and toward the bucket.

2) Once the dog eats the treats the owner should encourage the dog onto the bucket & reward profusely.

We are teaching what TO DO with their feet, not just what NOT to do (jump on guests).

Nail Trimming


Goal: Trim 1-2 nails PER DAY, as to not overwhelm your puppy. The more positive the experience, the easier it will become, and you will be able to easily cut more at a time.

Ideally, this is a 2 person job; One person should brace the dog (bear hug, like at the vet) while the other person trims the nails & reloads the lick mat as needed. Your dog should be held securely so they can't struggle out of your arms, for safety.

Important information regarding nail trimming:

  • Long nails have a very serious effect on the skeletal system, resulting in structural issues.
  • Spending time and $$ having your vet trim your dog's nails is a burden for the owners and stressful for the dogs!
  • Dogs that don't like their feet touched can be a danger if someone innocently touches their paw (often children).

Read more about the importance of trimming nails as well as the anatomy of the nail, here.

Nail Trimming Tools

NO guillotine style clippers, as they crush the nails.

Stick to scissors clippers and grinders (Oster is my strong preference!).

Use a lick mat with cheese or peanut butter to keep your dog's attention, avoid a lot of struggle, & teach them that nail trims are good!

View the video for details on why I choose to use all three of these, as well as additional options.

Advantages of the Grinder

Grinders go slow enough so we can see what we are doing!

Trim BLACK NAILS stress free with a grinder! All nails have rings, much like a tree, as shown in this photo (click for larger version). The inside ring is the quick. 

Nail Trimming Tips

STOP THE STRUGGLE! Don't let your puppy struggle. Hold them in a way that they can't get away & use the highest value treats (cheese is usually a hit). When they struggle, unless it's unsafe, stop trimming but do NOT let go of the foot until they stop struggling. Letting go during a struggle will result in more intense protest in the future because they learn that it works. Be safe, use good judgement, and hold your puppy in a way to prevent injury.

Introducing the grinder

Always introduce slowly! Your dog should NEVER show fear. Give treats and calm praise the entire acclimation process. Introduce the sound of the grinder AWAY from your puppy. Only touch the nail briefly at first. You likely won't trim an entire nail the first day.

Nail Trimming Demos


8 month old malinois puppy.

This video demonstrates the use of a lick mat.


11 year old small dog

6 year old large dog.

Mock Nail Trims


See your socialization chard from week 1.

Emery Board practice

Grab an emery board and practice nail trims with a partner. This relieves your stress about hitting the quick (blood), but still gives your puppy the full nail trimming experience.


Wooden dowel mock trims

Watch the video demonstration on using a wooden dowel to simulate nail trims for your dog, without the risk of hitting the quick (blood).


In previous years it was thought that the only way to help the quick (blood inside the nail) recede was to cut into the quick so it moved back. This is always painful for the dogs and usually results in them being apprehensive to getting their nails cut in the future—understandably so!

Now we know better ways! Using the alternative cut line we can help the quick recede every bit as fast, if not faster, but we can also do it without causing pain!

Click image to view it larger.


As has been previously discussed, there are many ways to teach a dog to heel. For the most success, use many methods and practice often. The more fun you have, the more focus your dog will have on you!

Stop the pulling!
Dogs pull because they are rewarded for it. Every step brings a new smell and perhaps a new snack (edible or... well, it goes down the hatch anyway!). We need to teach them that it's advantageous to be by us too!

Last week we dropped a cookie on the ground to teach our dogs that WE know where the good stuff is, they don't have to scavenge for it. Now we are going to take that a step further. Dogs love having their nose to the ground, which is why we dropped the cookie there. This time, however, we are going to start teaching our puppies to keep their noses OFF the ground.

With your puppy on a short leash, heel forward 2 steps, stop. Then immediately grab a treat, touch it to the side seam of your pants, then into your dog's mouth.

Why the side of the pants and not just into their mouth? This is because we tend to go to the dog, instead of insisting the dog comes to us. If your dog's mouth is more than 6" away from your pants line, they will have to come back to you to get it. This also teaches your dog where to be next time, so they can get the treat faster!

Canine Stretches

Goal: Canine stretches are a great handling activity, as well as a fantastic way to help prevent injury and expensive veterinary bills!

Exercise: All stretches should first begin with warming up the muscles with a short walk. Most dogs already have that by the time they get to class. Using the video as an example, perform some simple stretches that can save your dog from muscle and tendon tears!

"Over" exercises

Goal: Real world socialization! Get your puppy up onto as many (safe) weird surfaces as possible! This teaches confidence and eliminates fear responses. It's also super fun!

Exercise: For this exercise I used a tarp with bottles inside. This gives puppies both a weird surface to mender, but also weird sounds too!

Get creative with this! Have your puppy walk on a wooden plank that's supported 12-inches off the ground. Let your puppy climb on short logs! Anything that is safe & that your puppy will do willingly. NO FORCE! Force always equals fear! If your puppy is seriously frightened during the critical developmental window they are currently in, it can stick for life! Be safe. Use treats and love ❤️