What “cue” do you use?

by Bobbie Lyons, CCFT. KPA CTP

To obtain the pushup position above, the dog had to know front foot targeting, rear foot targeting, and nose touch hold.

What cue do you use??

People are always asking me what my behavior cues are so I thought I would just make you a list. While making this list, I found that some behaviors have several different cues that mean the same thing and are used in different situations. It is totally fine to have several cues that mean the same thing as long as your dog understands what they mean. That said, you should NEVER have a cue that means more than one expected behavior because it will break down the communication between you and your dog and cause your dog to have to guess. I once had a student that used the word “touch” for nose to hand, front feet to touch an object and also for rear feet to touch an object. Yikes. This dog often gave the right behavior due to the context in which the handler asked for it. For instance,

  • When the handlers hand was out, dog touched it with his nose.
  • When the handler said touch and the dog was on an agility Dog Walk, the dog stopped with rear feet in the contact zone.
  • When the handler put a K9FITbone on the floor and said “touch”, the dog put front feet on it.

Below is a list of behaviors and cues NOT IN ANY SPECIFIC ORDER. There are a couple blanks _________. These blanks are intentional because my dogs have been generalized to my hand or any object presented to them.

NOTE – the cues below are sometimes “with” a hand signal due to the nature of movement needed for fitness. Also I have 5 dogs and some of my dogs are trained to one cue while others are trained to a different cue for the same behavior. This is just due to my preferences changing over time.

Most Common Behaviors and Cues

  • Stay – “Stay”
  • You are Free to Move – “Break”
  • Eyes on Me – “Watch”
  • Get in the Car – “Get in”
  • Left Side Heel – “Au Pied” (French), hand signal
  • Right Side Heel – Hand signal
  • Lay Down Any Way You Want – “Down”
  • Sphinx Down – “Flat”, “Couche” (French), hand signal, smoochy sound, bell
  • Tuck Sit – “Sit” with hind signal indicating to load weight to the shoulders
  • Rock Back Sit – “Sit” with hand signal moving away from my body, sometimes just a hand signal
  • Sit Any Way You Want – “Sit”
  • Lateral Stepping or Side Stepping – “Side” and my movement – Dog moves the direction I am going
  • Back up – Hand signal only (Drama), “Away” (Bravo)
  • Pivot – “Pivot” – moving the direction I am moving
  • Sit Pretty/Beg – “Pretty”
  • Roll over – “Roll”
  • Lay On Your Side – “Rest”, hand signal
  • Recall – “Come”, “Here”
  • Stand – “Stand”
  • Turn in a Right Circle – “Right”
  • Turn in a Left Circle – “Left”
  • Play Bow – “Bow”
  • Crawl – “Crawl” or “Under”
  • Jump – “Over”
  • Take Food From a Bowl (or eat) – “Smile”
  • All Done – “All Done”
  • Get in Your Crate – “Crate”
  • Go Around a Cone – “Wrap” (or Right/Left)
  • Shift Your Weight Back – “Shift” or “Crouch” (sometimes with a little body pressure)


  • Front Foot Target (both front feet) –“Toes”
  • Rear Foot Target (both rear feet) –“Feet”
  • Shake a Paw / Left Front Foot –“Paw”
  • Left Rear Foot –“Rise”
  • Shake a Paw / Right Front Foot –“Foot”
  • Right Rear Foot –“Lift”
  • Nose to _______ –“Touch”
  • Chin to _________ –“Chin”
  • Put your mouth over it –“Teeth”
  • Hold your nose to _______-“Hold”
  • All Feet Up –“Hop it Up”
  • Mat –“Mat”


I think listing all my trick cues is another blog post.

These cues are MY cues. They do not have to be your cues but it if helps some of you figure out what to “name” things, then that is fantastic.

What are your cues??

Happy Training.

Source: For More Bobbie Lyons Blog post go toBobbie Lyon Canine Campus Blog

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