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Teaching the New Obedience Dog: Using Targets
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Deciding where to begin training with a new obedience dog can be overwhelming. There are many choices and so much they need to learn!

In my last message I suggested that you start with four skills:
  1. Tricks for Treats;
  2. Moving Away from a Treat to Get a Treat;
  3. Coming When Called; and
  4. Encouraging the Retrieve.
The next skill I teach inexperienced dogs is how to use a target for teaching a Sit, Down and Stand. Teaching a dog to Sit, Down and Stand on a platform creates a solid foundation for several obedience exercises.

1. Using a Target to Teach a Sit

Teaching your puppy or young dog to stay in a sitting position is harder to achieve on the floor than it is on a platform. Teaching a Sit Stay on a platform is a fun way to practice recalls and fronts.

2. Using a Target to Teach a Stand

Standing on a platform is the start of your Stand for Exam and Moving Stand. Once a dog knows how to stand on a platform, he can be taught the position changes required by the Command Discrimination exercise (stand to down; and down to sit). Additionally, standing on a platform is used to introduce the go-out segment of the Directed Jumping exercise.

As a bonus, standing on a platform can be used to practice fronts or teach pivots. It will also help a dog develop good rear-end awareness.

3. Using a Target to Teach a Down

Learning to Down on a platform is an easy way to start the Down Stay and can be used to reinforce the concept of “moving away from a treat to get a treat.” Eventually, a target can be used to begin teaching the drop on recall exercise.

Using Targets, Part 1 Watch Thaddeus and Sputnik learn to Sit, Stand and Down on a target.

It makes me smile when a young dog sees a platform and runs over to sit or stand on it. I seldom reward behavior that I do not initiate but sometimes make an exception. I want to encourage young dogs to initiate work without having to give them a command.

Take a moment to appreciate the concepts your new obedience partner has been introduced to in just two messages. These concepts include: luring, rewarding, moving away from a treat to get a treat, and conditioned reinforcers – all while performing a Sit, Down, Spin, Touch, Heel, Place, Come, Stand, Down and Stay.

Using Targets, Part 2 Watch Thaddeus and Sputnik learn how to use three targets!

Your youngster is building a solid foundation with each new concept he is introduced to and, each new skill that he learns.

Keep practicing -- I have more ideas to share with you in my next message.