Have the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other. Put your hand with the treat over the top of the dogs nose and about two inches from his head. Move the treat over his head. As he tilts his head up to follow the treat his back end will tend to go down. As soon he puts his bum is on the ground click and give the treat. Repeat 10-15 times. When he reaches 80% success rate attach the word “sit” along to the hand signal. Assume the start position, say “sit” and do the hand signal. When he sits, click, praise and treat. Repeat 10-15 times. Now, assume start position and try just “sit” – give him time – remember to give 30 seconds for him to think about it. If he gets it correct click & treat. Otherwise go back a step. Remember to only give the treat when he is in the sit position – if he gets up start again.
Treat in one hand clicker in the other ask him to sit, don’t click or treat say “good dog”. Put the treat in front of his nose and move it slowly to the floor, straight down. He should follow it to the floor and end up lying down – as soon as his elbows touch the floor, click & treat. Start with him in a sit position each time and mix up the rewards for sitting between praise and click/treat at random. As before, when he can do this 80% of the time you give a verbal cue “down” prior to the hand movement. After several repetitions assume the start position and say “down” and allow 30 seconds if needed. If he’s not getting it start again – say “down” and follow with the hand signal. Then once 80% successful try start position and “down” signal. Remember to always click and treat when he performs the behaviour.
Once he can do sit and down get him working out by getting him to sit, click & treat. Then into a down, click and treat. Then back to a sit, click and treat. Use the hand signals if required to start with. When he gets really good, move on to just verbal cues. Again now start to give the click/treats on a random interval – he doesn’t know when he’ll get the treat so it’s still worth putting the effort in just in case it might be this time.
Get him to sit. Take a couple of steps backwards. If he gets up to follow you click and treat. If he stays make a kissy noise to invite him and click and treat when he does. When you know he will follow you say “stand” step back click and treat. Once 80% consistent give just the verbal cue.
Now try giving “sit”, “down” and “stand” verbal cue in random order so he doesn’t get in a habit of giving them only in a certain sequence.
With your dog in a sit position in front of you, put your hand out in a universal stop signal while saying “stay.” Bring your hand back to your side while taking a step backward, followed immediately by a step forward so you are back to your starting position. Click and treat before he stands up. With some dogs this may have to be done very quickly to start with. Once he gets it, increase the distance by one step until 80% consistent at that level and continue to increase a step at a time, always going backward and then forward again to the start position and then click and treat. Once great distance has been achieved start by moving to the left and right – again starting at just one step and increasing.
With your dog a couple of feet away from you say “come” and turn and run away. When he runs after you click and treat. If you are not followed make kissy noises and run a few more steps. Don’t be afraid to get excited so he’ll be excited too. You want it to be fun for him to go to you. When this is reliable gradually decrease your movement until he is coming to you while you stand still. You need to be able to make yourself more appealing than everything else going on around the dog. Use toys as a reward for coming by throwing the ball for him as a reward for responding to “come.” Once consistent, ask him to come and then sit, click & treat or throw the ball whichever is most rewarding.
Dogs pull on leashes because we are slow and boring and pulling seems to get them where they want to go. Try and start in the garden without the lead on. Walk around and any time the dog is walking near you click and treat. He’ll learn it’s good to be near you so now introduce “heel” before giving the click/treat. Now attach the lead and go for a walk. Stand at the door, get him to sit and say “heel” and step out. If he runs straight to the end of the lead stop and wait for him to stop and look back at you then click and treat – hold the treat to the side so he has to come back to your side to get it. Now with the lead loose say “heel” and try again and repeat as before if required. Try to click and treat as often as possible as you walk before the lead tightens. You can also do a lot of directional changes to keep the dog from getting bored with you. This also prevents the lead from tightening and gives you more opportunities to click and treat. If he starts to get ahead of you turn and go the other direction. Now he’s behind you and has to try and catch up – lots of loose leash to give lots of clicks and treats. He will soon learn that rewards come from having a relaxed lead.
Get him to sit and praise him for a job well done. Place a treat in your hand and hold it at his chest height. He may try to open your hand with his nose etc. Eventually he will paw at your hand to get the treat. At this moment click and open your hand to give the treat. Repeat this and the pawing will happen faster. Now introduce “paw” when you know he will do it. Having set him up for success click and treat.
Similar to giving the paw. Get him to sit and place your treat hand out in front of his head. He’ll have to raise his leg up to hit the target and when he does click and treat. Introduce “high five” when he does it consistently.
Authored by Mark McCorry RVN