Making a plan

I pulled out the list of foundation behaviors I want to teach…

  • Targeting with nose
  • Targeting with paw
  • Recall
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Conformation stack
  • Walk at my side
  • Name recognition/Attention
  • Retrieve
  • Grooming / Nail clipping / Husbandry
  • Crate training
  • Stay on a mat
  • Scent work

I compared those to Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels. Her first level behaviors, except for Zen, and a great number of her second level behaviors are on my list. Since I want to train the Levels, I added Zen to my list.

I also decided that I needed a low-level goal for each behavior to get me focused and give me something concrete to focus on. Again, Training levels to the rescue! With a few adjustments, I used her initial goals for each behavior as my initial goals for each behavior. “Sit” I modified a bit, because I want a competition-quality sit. She doesn’t have paw targeting at this level, so I modified her nose target goal. Finally, I combined the conformation stacking with husbandry behaviors for this first level, because I’m going to start with a hand stack, not a free stack.

My list with initial goals:

Targeting with nose — The dog must deliberately touch the handler’s hand with his nose on only one voice cue. The hand in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue.

Targeting with paw — The dog must deliberately touch the target with his paw on only one voice cue. The target in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue.

Recall — The dog must play the Come Game between the handler and a friend or stranger standing 20’ apart.

Sit — The dog will do a tucked, on-the-haunches Sit from standing position on one cue only (may be a voice OR a hand cue, but not both, and no extra body language from the handler). The handler may use the dog’s name to get his attention before starting.

Down — The dog must Down from a Sit or Stand with no more than two cues – hand and voice, voice and body language, two voice cues, etc. It is not necessary for the dog to stay in the Down position, simply to lie down.

Walk at my side — Handler stands in one spot while the dog keeps the leash loose for one minute with one distraction. Handler may use cues but may NOT cue the dog to Watch or to Heel, or to Sit, Down, or Stand or Stay. The intent of the exercise is that the dog’s default behaviour for one minute is to keep the leash loose. The dog is NOT required to watch the handler.

Name recognition/Attention — Dog’s head swivels immediately toward handler when handler says name.

Retrieve — The dog nose-targets four different objects including a dumbell, on one cue each.

Grooming / Nail clipping / Husbandry and Conformation Stack — The dog allows the handler to handle his ears, tail, and feet. This may be done on a table or on the floor. There must be minimal struggling.

Crate training — Dog enters crate with no more than two cues (vocal, body language, or hand signals), remains in crate while handler closes/opens door, no vocalizing or pawing.

Stay on a mat — Dog goes to, gets on a mat, dog bed, hammock, or pause table from 5’ away, 2 cues only – two voice cues, or a voice cue and body language, etc.

Scent work — The dog finds a treat hidden under a cup or piece of cloth. There should be a cue to Find It.

Zen — The dog must stay away from a treat in the handler’s hand for 5 seconds. There can be only one voice cue which will be given before the hand is presented.

I won’t work on every behavior every day. Just don’t have that kind of time! But hopefully I can work on a few behaviors each day.

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