Attention | Training
the Bridge | The Lure |
The Target | Ring
Attention - The first
Attention is what makes training your dog possible.
Your dog is paying attention and learning things
all the time. Teach him how to pay attention and
learn from you.
Observe your dog. Whenever you notice him giving
you quiet attention reinforce him calmly with your
attention: a touch, praise, part of a meal - something
you think he would like.
Immediately ignore any pushy or rude attention.
1. Begin in an area where your dog finds you interesting,
speak your dog's name one time only, clearly
and softly. When your dog looks at you, instantly
praise him while he continues to look. Reward him
with tiny pieces of treats, part of his meal, favorite
toys or something else that your dog finds rewarding.
Repeat this 5-6 times a day.
If your dog jumps up on you, immediately lose interest
in him. Look at the ceiling and withhold the reward.
The instant his feet are on the ground continue
your verbal praise and the reward you are using.
(This is also the basis for teaching your dog not
to jump up on you.)
In the beginning you can use a lure to help your
dog look at you. Hold the treat up near your eyes
to help him look up.
2. As soon as your dog begins to get the idea,
don't have food or rewards visible when you speak
to him. Produce the reward as soon as he comes and
looks at you. Remember to vary your rewards (food,
toys, games, rubs, hugs).
3. If he doesn't look at you when he hears his
name, try hiding on him or try whipping out his
favorite toy and playing with it by yourself. Ignore
him if he tries to join in. Produce something yummy
and eat it by yourself (or if you don't share your
dog's taste in treats pretend to eat it!) Use your
imagination & make it worth his while to look
4. Begin training in an area your dog finds you
fascinating - maybe the kitchen.
Gradually move to other locations and introduce
distractions. Practice outside, at the park, in
the pet store. In more distracting situations you
will want to use higher value rewards.
5. You should begin to see a marked increase in
your dog's attentive behavior, especially when he
hears his name. If you are not seeing improvement,
make sure you are not using his name to scold him.
Check to be sure you are not nagging him & saying
his name over and over.
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Training the Bridge
Use a Bridge - a word or sound that means "You
are right!" at the exact second your dog does
what you want. A bridge word or sound marks the
split second between your command ("sit")
and the dog's action (sitting) before you can give
the treat. (See Be Quick above)
Some examples of good Bridges are the words 'Yes',
'Good' or a clicker.
The bridge will help you communicate to your dog
that they are right. It connects (bridges) the time
between your command, your dog's response, and your
reinforcement (reward). It allows you to pinpoint
the exact moment that your dog is right. They
will soon learn that when they hear the bridge,
the behavior they are doing is going to get them
their reward! This encourages that good behavior
and allows them to associate that behavior with
the commands that you give.
Choose the word or sound you will use to tell your
dog he is right - the reward is coming.
Choose a quiet time when your dog is doing nothing
right or wrong and say the word or sound. Immediately
smile and give your dog a treat. Repeat this 10
or 20 times until he is looking at you expectantly
every time he hears the Bridge. An excellent time
to teach this is by hand feeding a meal.
Now you can practice using the Bridge at the second
that your dog is doing something right. Remember
- good trainers are quick. Practice using the bridge
when you see your dog doing something right.
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The lure will help you teach teach your dog to
pay attention to your hands and allow you to teach
your dog a hand signal for each behavior. You will
eventually phase out the lure and continue using
the hand signals.
1. Put a treat in your hand so your dog can see
it. Use your hand to lure the dog into the position
you want. When he is in position, immediately use
your Bridge and give him the treat. Remember to
smile & project positive energy.
2. When he is reliably performing the behavior
you want, continue to use the lure, but no longer
give it to him. Use your Bridge, but have the reward
come from somewhere else - a treat from your other
hand, from your pocket, from another family member,
from the counter. Now is also a good time to vary
the types and the amount of the reward you are using.
(food, a toy or a game, access to outside or a ride
in the car - some are big rewards and some are little
rewards - you will be unpredictable, variable and
Now, use your hand with no food in it to lure your
dog into position. This will now become your signal
to get the behavior. If your dog performs the behavior,
use your Bridge and give him a great reward. If
he does not respond, drop your hand to your side
and quietly give him a few seconds. If he still
doesn't respond, ignore him for a little bit and
You can use a lure to help teach many behaviors
like sit, down and target.
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1. Start in a quiet place when your dog is anxious
to do something with you. Put a handful of treats
in your right hand and stand or sit in front of
2. Put your left hand, palm open, close to your
dogs nose, he will probably reach out and sniff
it. When he touches it - give your Bridge and then
treat & smile.
3. Repeat step 2.
4. After a few repetitions most dogs will ignore
your left hand and stare at the hand with the treats!
When this happens you can speed things up by using
a lure. Holding a treat in your right hand, put
it behind your left hand. Keep your left hand close
to your dog's nose. He will accidentally touch your
left hand while trying to get the treat. Immediately
give your Bridge and then treat & smile.
5. When he is consistently touching your left hand,
gradually withdraw your right hand. Keep your left
hand close to his nose.
6. When he is consistently touching your left hand
without the lure, gradually move your left hand
further away so that eventually he is moving forward
to touch your left hand.
7. When he is reliably moving to touch your left
hand, you can begin to move your hand and Bridge
him for following it.
8. Remember to keep the sessions short & stop
while your dog (and you) are still interested. Targeting
can often be taught in a few short sessions. Try
it while you are hand feeding a meal.
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Teach your dog to ring a
This lesson uses the Target command to teach your
dog a new behavior - ringing a bell.
1. Hang your bell on (or near) the door that you
use to bring your dog outside to go potty. Be sure
your dog can reach the bells easily. Choose a command
that will mean "go outside." We use "outside".
(If you are training an adult dog, you probably
already have a word that you use with your dog for
"outside".) We use
Poochie-Bells that slip right over the
doorknob and can be customized.
2. Hold a treat in your right hand, place your
left hand (your target hand) in front of your treat
hand and touching the bells. When your dog's nose
touches your target hand, let your hand quietly
ring the bell. Use your bridge word and give the
This will get your dog used to touching and hearing
the bells. It will give a positive association with
the sound of the bells. Gradually move your target
hand from in front of the bells to behind the bells.
When the dog sniffs the treat hand his nose will
contact the bells. When the bells ring, use your
bridge word and give the treat.
When your dog is reliably touching the bells with
his nose to get the treat, move on to the next step.
3. Repeat the above exercise (#2) and add your
"outside" command. When your dog's nose
rings the bell, say your bridge word, open the door
and take the dog outside and give the treat. You
can practice each time you want to take your dog
out to potty. Ask him to ring the bell before you
open the door to outside. Very soon you will hear
the jingle of the bells when your dog wants to go
Bergamot and Emrys demonstrate.
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