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Teaching Tricks to Improve Advanced Exercises
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Do you want to receive free training tips? If so, access the free digital obedience guide, Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises.

The purpose of the guide is for you to think about each of the "tricks" as a prerequisite to a more advanced obedience exercise.

Tricks that Transition introduces the principles of luring, rewarding, moving away from a reward to earn a reward, and conditioned reinforcers. Understanding these principles will help you teach your dog the tricks in this guide and countless other skills.


Teaching the tricks in this guide involve two steps. You begin by luring the dog to perform. Luring is simply getting your dog to chase the treat to cause him to offer the desired behavior. Quickly, your goal should change from luring to using the treat as a reward instead of a bribe. Spin, Touch, Shake, Back-up, Stand on a Platform, and Find Heel position are examples of tricks that start with luring. Don't lure for too long! Move the treat further away or into your other hand to reward the behavior.

Finally, use a conditioned reinforcer to mark the behavior, and the trick will become self-rewarding. The tab “Finding Heel Position” offers more detailed information about conditioned reinforcers.

Move Away from a Reward to Earn a Reward

Equally important is moving away from a reward to earn a reward. This means that instead of luring your dog, you encourage him to move away from what he wants to earn the reward. The drop signal, circling a cone, and moving away from you to stand on a platform are examples of “tricks” that will convince you how easily your dog can learn this concept.

All the “tricks” in this guide can be rewarded with a conditioned reinforcer. A conditioned reinforcer is a word (Yes!) or sound (clicker) that specifically tells the dog when he has accomplished the task. This is a powerful form of positive reinforcement.

Review the instructions and videos provided in Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises, and have some fun teaching your dog some “tricks” that will make it easier for him to learn more advanced exercises.

Take the time this week to teach, or practice the following “tricks.”

Spin: Teaching a puppy or dog to spin involves luring and then rewarding.

Circle the Cone: This trick involves teaching your dog that he can move away from the reward to earn the reward. Be sure to watch the video for information about the timing of your conditioned reinforcer.

Stand on a Platform: Your priority should be to get your dog to stand still on the platform. Check out the second video in that section for a demonstration of this skill.

Back Up: Start by having your dog stand with his front feet in one room, and his rear end in another. Push him back, out of the room. You will begin by luring, but end up by rewarding your dog.

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