Adding the Cue
If you’d like to review the difference between a cue and a command and why we choose the former, please visit your trainer’s blog
Adding the cue is the same with most behaviors (your trainer will tell you about the exceptions) so this example uses the sit behavior.
It is best not to add the cue until your dog is performing the behavior well. Adding the cue too early can result in a couple of things:
- What we name is often what we train, meaning that you don’t want to name a behavior that doesn’t look like what you want. If you name sit when it consists of your dog putting his bottom on the floor for a split second and then popping back up again then sit will come to mean just that. You want to wait until your dog is sitting for several seconds before you name the behavior.
- You may find yourself repeating the cue until the dog completes the behavior. If you do this, your dog might learn that he/she needs to wait until he/she hears the cue several times before performing the behavior. Your dog isn’t being disobedient. Your dog is doing exactly what he/she was trained to do.
- Remember, if you would not bet $50 on the fact that your dog is going to sit in the next 5 seconds STOP. Go back and practice capturing sit without the cue.
- Stand in one place with your treats where your dog cannot see them.
- Do NOT ask your dog for anything.
- Wait for your dog to approach you and sit.
- Click and toss a treat on his mat.
- Repeat this three times.
- On the next repetition, as soon as your dog finishes his treat say “Sit!”
- When your dog sits (which he was going to do anyway) click and treat.
- As soon as he finishes chewing say “Sit!” When he does, click and treat.
- Repeat this process (“Sit”, he does, click treat. Etc.)
- PUPPIES: Practice five repetitions, three or four times a day.
- DOGS: Practice this at least ten repetitions, three times each day.
AT THE END OF THIS STEP:
You should be able to say “Sit” and have your dog sit the first time in a low distraction environment.
- My dog won’t sit. He just stands there. Move to a less distracting environment. Take him for a walk or play a game to get rid of any pent-up energy. Make sure you are giving him a reward he actually enjoys.
- I ask my dog to sit and he won’t do it. You may have named it before it was predictable. Keep practicing without the cue. Try again in a day or two. The environment may be distracting. Make it easier by selecting a less distracting environment.