Archive for January 27, 2011

Learn Along with Wally & Lu – Week 1

Well, we finally got to start classes this week!  Wally started basic obedience and LuLu started off-leash advanced obedience.  We’d like to share with you what we’ve learned!  Maybe you can give it a try, too!  :)

What Wally Learned:

Basic Obedience

“The Name Game”

One of the most important things you can teach your puppy is to respond to his name.  It could save his life someday.  What if your dog were chasing a ball into the street?  Or running after a squirrel?  You want to be sure your dog will stop whatever he’s doing and focus on you the minute he hears his name.

How do we teach it?

Phase I:  Put your puppy on a leash so he can’t wander off.  Say your puppy’s name.  Only say his name ONCE and wait.  The second he turns to look at you, click (or use a marker word, like “YES!”) and give him a treat.

Phase II:  When he’s consistently turning his head when he hears his name, you can start holding the treat near your face so that he has to make eye contact when you say his name.  The second he makes eye contact, click/mark and treat.

Phase III:  Add distractions.  Practice with other people in the room.  Practice in different rooms of your house.  Practice outside.  Practice everywhere!

Tip:  Never use your dog’s name to reprimand them.  Do not use your dog’s name immediately before a punishment or in a frustrated tone.  You want your dog to know that his name always means GOOD things are going to happen!


One of the easiest things to teach a puppy is to “Sit” on command.  An effortless way to do this is to “capture” the behavior.  Every time your dog sits, click/mark and reward.  Then add the cue “sit” to the behavior.  Before you know it, your dog will be sitting on command.

Another way to teach sit is with a food lure.  Hold the treat over the dog’s nose and slowly move it up and back over the dogs head.  This will cause his bottom to go down to the floor.  As soon as his bottom hits the floor, click/mark and reward.  After a couple of repetitions, add your verbal cue as the dog’s bottom is going down to the floor.


Ask your dog for a sit.  Lure your dog into the down position by holding a treat and drawing your hand from his nose to between his front paws.  He may paw at the treat and try to get it out of your hand.  Be patient.  It may take him some time to figure out what he’s supposed to do.  Once he lies down, click/mark and reward.  After a few repetitions, add your verbal cue.

An alternate method of teaching down is the “tunnel” method.  This method works for small dogs and puppies.  Sit on the floor with your dog at your side. Bend one knee up to create a tunnel big enough for your dog to crawl through.   With a treat in your hand, put your hand under your bent leg and pull it through.  Your dog will have to lie down to crawl through the tunnel you’ve created.   As soon as his belly hits the floor, click/mark and treat.  Once your dog is quickly lying down when you lure her with the treat, introduce the verbal cue as you pull the treat through your bent leg.

What LuLu Learned:

Advanced Obedience – Intro to Distance Commands

Here is an excellent article explaining how to start teaching distance commands:

And a video:


Toss a treat about 10 feet away from your dog and ask him to go get it.  After he eats the treat, call him to you and while he is in motion, raise your hand high as your physical “STOP” cue.   (We’re not adding a verbal cue yet.) If your dog stops, click/mark and toss him a treat.  If your dog doesn’t stop, start the exercise over, this time throw a second treat directly at him after calling him to come to you.  He should stop to eat the treat.  Give your physical “STOP” cue and click/mark.  Practice until your dog is stopping as if he’s running into a brick wall!  The goal of this exercise is to build a fast response.

“Distance Down”

This is simply teaching the dog a new physical cue for your verbal “down” command.

How to start: Ask your dog for a “wait” and walk several paces away from your dog.  Raise your hand high in the air as if signaling “STOP” and give your verbal “down” command.  Once the dog is understanding the new cue as “down” you can move on to “drop on recall”.

“Drop on Recall”

This command is combining “stop” and “distance down” to ask your dog to immediately drop to the ground while they are in motion.

How to start: Ask your dog to “wait” and walk several paces away from your dog.  Call him to you and while he is in motion, raise your hand and give your physical “stop” cue.  When he stops, praise him (“good boy!”), but don’t click/mark or treat.  Keep your hand held high and give your verbal “down” cue.  If he doesn’t, just keep your arm raised and repeat your verbal cue.  Click/mark and go to him to deliver the treat when he drops to the ground.

Training Tips:
  • Keep sessions short and fun!
  • Give lots of praise when your dog does what you ask him to do.
  • Try to train before meal times so that your dog is motivated by your food rewards.
  • Always set yourself up for success!  If you or your dog are not in the mood for training – play together instead.  Remember: A tired or frustrated dog can’t learn and a tired or frustrated human can’t teach!
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