Why train two cues, when you can train ONE.

by Bobbie Lyons, CCFT. KPA CTP

It is no secret that I LOVE teaching FOOT targeting skills with many different objects and in many different situations for canine fitness. Targeting skills are very useful for fitness but I am learning that they may not be everyone’s favorite thing to teach or that time is limited. “Training minutes” can be precious to busy handlers with limited time and often are needed to train behaviors for performance sports. So, I have a NEW shortcut plan….

Let’s train all four feet on two object instead of front foot targeting and rear foot targeting. To be clear, I am not in any way discounting the NEED for proper rear foot targeting but instead giving you a new tool to be able to easily obtain the “starting position” for many canine fitness exercises.

“All Four” or just “Four” will mean that front feet are placed on one object and rear feet are placed on another object. This means that your new “All Four” cue can only be used for this type of situation. For example, “All Four” cannot be used for all four feet on a FitPAWS Peanut because that is only one object, NOT two objects with a space between them. Are you with me so far?

My goal:

  • Stop touching the dogs feet (IME – the dog often just keeps waiting to be touched and doesn’t learn where to place their feet)
  • Stop shoving treats at your dog to move them back and then forward again
  • Increase efficiency in obtaining the correct position
  • Improve time management
  • Improve communication between dog and handler

So with little Extra, I taught “FOUR” which means front feet on one object and rear feet are on DIFFERENT object.

You will see in the video that:

  • I obtained the skill
  • Added a cue – “Four”
  • Immediately generalized to different objects
  • Even generalized to paw pods at the end – I know, technically 4 objects but it Is not such a stretch when there is a definite space between the objects and the behavior is built this way.

I used a clicker for part of this and a verbal marker toward the end. You will see that I initially decrease criteria when changing objects (this is something that is often forgotten). The training is NOT perfect, some of my clicks are late, I talked too much etc. but we obtained the desired position in just 5 short sessions.

And just like that, one cue instead of two!!Go to Bobbie Lyons Canine Campus Blog