In my last blog, I talked about the training technique of using “what’s more___than____” to resolve problem behaviors.  In this blog I’ll talk about using this technique to create a better quality behavior in the first place.

Let’s consider the “stop” portion of the drop on recall.  I want to teach my dog to stop promptly on cue when he is coming towards me.

First ask yourself the base question, “What is more stop than stop” when a dog is coming towards you?

How about “back up?” or “turn around and go away?”  While Brito will eventually learn both of these, this blog will look at “back up” in preparation for the drop cue.

This is how Brito is learning the “stop” portion of the drop on recall:

1) First I throw a cookie straight ahead to get Brito to run out and away from me.

2) As he returns, I give him a signal (verbal, hand signal or both) to back up as he is returning.  It’s ok if it takes a second or two to process – he won’t  get a cookie until he reverses, and time will improve his processing.

3) The second he reverses, I reward immediately on the first or second step backwards.

4) On occasion, I also throw in the drop cue after he backs a short distance so that “back up” and “drop” become linked.

5) When Brito can reverse immediately upon receiving the back up cue, I’ll request a drop without asking for a reverse.   We’re definitely not there yet and there is no hurry.  Backing up on cue and being rewarded at a distance are both foundation skills, so it’s worth getting it right.I also throw in plenty of straight recall signals  to keep him paying attention to what I’m asking for.

To succeed with this method, you’ll need a recall, a back up cue, and a solid drop cue.  Teach each of these separately before trying to form a chain.  Make sure you can get each behavior quickly and with one distinct cue before combining them (I use a continuous cue for back up so that is an exception for me).

Eventually, I’ll use backing up as a maintenance behavior for a speedy drop.