Life is busy, and with everything on our to-do lists, it feels like training sometimes falls at the bottom. I have created a way for you to easily incorporate training sessions without altering your schedule. This session will help promote impulse control, focus, self-control, and help establish a solid “stay” behavior.
Using your Food Bowl for Training
What you will need: You, your dog, and food bowl (use exercise during feeding times)
Stand facing your dog whole holding his food bowl
Once your dog sits, in a calm tone say, “good”
Start to lean down as if you are placing the food on the floor
If your dog pops up, stand straight up again and wait for a sit before beginning to repeat the process of placing bowl on the floor
Continue this process until you are able to place food bowl on the floor with the dog remaining in a sit
Once food bowl is on the floor without him moving, say your release word (like “okay”)
If Your Dog is New to the Stay Behavior
If your dog doesn’t have a any background with training “stay” then be sure to work within his skill level. We always want to set a dog up for success, avoiding frustration by not working above his level. If your dog is new to the stay cue and it is especially hard for him to hold the stay until you’ve placed the bowl entirely on the ground, you may want to release him prior to that point but after having leaned forward. You can eventually begin gradually increasing the difficulty as his skill level increases by leaning farther down before cuing the release until, eventually, you’re placing the bowl on the ground with no problems. So for example, I would cue a sit, say “good”, and start to move towards the floor with the bowl. If he popped up, I would stand up, cue a sit, and start again, this time releasing him just before the point where he previously broke the stay. Each session I would gradually increase the difficulty for the canine.
When he’s doing well with the stay, here are things that you can do to make things more challenging:
Increase the time before you say the release
Move as if you are walking away, turn back and then say the release
Give your dog your back before you say the release
Walk away and then walk back before you say the release
Dance and sing around the food bowl (He will think you’re nuts, but it will help impulse control)
Say a different word instead of the release: like bananas, kangaroo, or ball
Say a different word that rhymes with your release word. (Example if your release word is okay you could say, “by the way”, “Mary Kay”, or “Say”)
What if my dog stands up?
It’s okay because I haven’t actually used the word “stay”. What I am helping you establish is the behavior first, so if he breaks, there is no need for a correction. You will simply stand up straight while holding the food bowl. You can either wait for a sit and say, “good”, or you can cue a sit and say “good.” This will start the game all over again. The key for this game is in the handler’s knowledge of the skill level of his or her particular dog so that you can push him just far enough without allowing him to get discouraged or frustrated.
What if my dog goes into a down?
Personally, I don’t mind if my dogs go into a down from a sit. My dogs do not compete in competitive obedience and to me, if they are staying in the same place, I think that’s great. If you are doing competitive obedience you could make your correctional sound, (for me that’s an “eh eh”), and walk into the dog so he sits up again. Once he is in a sit, say, “good.”
Author: Michelle Huntting
Kenyon Canine Institute, Where the Trainers Go