Better Walks Using a Series of Cues

What it is: Combining the training cues you have learned into a series while out in the world with your dog. Dogs don’t generalize well, so it’s important to take what you teach at home or in class out in the world with you. You can do a series of cues at home for fun, during play, or while out for a walk. This can be a game changer for getting more attention and good behavior, especially while out for a walk. You are asking the dog for more while keeping it guessing – excellent mental and physical stimulation!

Why it’s important: By using cues in your dog has learned in a series, you can communicate with your dog while out in the world and reinforce good behavior in a fun way. This gives you the opportunity to teach the dog what is appropriate and also serves as an excellent way to redirect unwanted behaviors. Everyone has different expectations, so figure out what yours are and stick to them.

How to do it: Start with saying the dog’s name to get its attention.  You may do a series that consists of 2 cues (“Saxon – come, sit”) but the sky is limit. A series is simply putting more than one cue together; this can be simple or complex. Be mindful of what the dog is comfortable and reliable with, what distractions you are up against, and the dog’s attention span.

A few examples:

Dog’s name – come – sit – watch me

Dog’s name – touch – sit – down

Dog’s name – sit – with me

Dog’s name – come – with me – hustle – easy – hustle – easy - sit

Dog’s name – watch me, with me (essentially a “walking watch-me”)

Dog’s name – sit – wait (while you take steps backward) – come – sit - shake

Dog’s name – come, touch, back (the dog backs up), spin

Dog’s name – come, sit, stay

Dog’s name – come, spin, sit, wait, come, touch, touch, sit, down, settle, stay

*A series will be contingent upon behaviors the dog has already learned.

**Be sure to free your dog with your release word BEFORE the dog frees itself. This applies with or without a treat reward.

Rewarding a series: In a series, you will not reward the first cue, you will only reward the final cue. You will only mark the final cue as well – this means you will only click/ “yes!” the final behavior/trick. Oftentimes, a good reward is giving the dog the freedom to be a dog, so long as this does not result in undesirable behavior. I use “okay” to mark the end of a trick/behavior and this is crucial, you will treat/reward before giving the release word. But, I use “free dog” after doing multiple series while out for a walk to let the dog know it is off-duty so to speak.

Examples of rewards: actual food reward, praise, letting the dog decide where to walk, giving time to sniff, a good rub down, throwing a toy, giving the dog the “free dog” cue to let them know they are off-duty, etc. The dog determines what is rewarding – always remember this!


©Kate Godfrey, 2019                          (904) 236-3780