– Or shift responsibility to your dog!
Once your dog understands what you expect, extra help such as verbal reminders, leg pats and leash cues should no longer be use. In addition, at this stage, and food should no longer be used as a lure.
In the final stages of training, treat incentives become a reward for correct responses. As your dog becomes more proficient, the reward should be given to your dog on a random basis to reward only the best responses and best efforts. If your dog chooses not to respond correctly, the reward should be withheld. When he puts forth effort to respond in the correct manner, praise and reward him with treats, a game of tug, or both!
To ensure your dog will perform the exercises when a toy or food are NOT present and without any help, follow these simple guidelines:
- Make sure your primary reward is your praise and that the toy and/or food are the secondary rewards. Praise can be used in the ring, but NOT toys nor food.
- The reward your dog receives should match the amount of effort he puts forth!
- Shift the responsibility of the skill to your dog. This means no help from you, i.e. cues or extra commands. The first command is what counts! Remember that there are no “do overs” in the ring.
- Once your dog understands how to perform a skill or exercise, only reward his best efforts!
- Avoid advertising the fact you have food in your mouth or toys in your pocket!
- As your dog becomes more proficient and you are preparing to show, the use of food and toys should become random.
Every dog is motivated by something! Take the time to figure out what best motivates your dog and reward him for giving you his utmost!
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