This excerpt is taken from our first class of Puppy Pre-School! Our Pre-School classes are a great way to get both a new puppy and a new puppy owner on the same page with training expectations and techniques. The below technique is a positive behavioural training technique, and can be used for just about any trick!
When training for almost any "trick" or obedience task such as sitting, staying, etc, the three steps to follow are:
The cue is used to signal the dog to perform an action. For example, when training a dog to sit, the cue will be "Sit" accompanied with a hand motion.
Be careful not to use too many cues. People often try to use their full body motion, or constantly repeat "sit sit sit" until the dog sits. Make sure you get your dogs full attention before cueing them to perform an action.
The mark is used once your dog has successfully performed the action. If you intend to use clicker training, this is where you would click. If you do not use clicker training, a reasonably loud and excited "yes!" works as well.
Your mark should be used after every time your puppy performs the cue correctly, but not used at all if the performance is not complete or correct.
The reward is used to positively condition the dog into associating that behaviour (cue) with a good time (reward), When the puppy is young, use treat based rewards every time.
When training, train in repetitions of 5 times. Get your dog to sit for five times in a row. If they only complete the task successfully 1-3 times, they will need more repetitions with breaks in-between. If your dog can complete the action 4-5 times each repetition, it is time to move on with the training and increasing its difficulty, or minimising the mark & reward aspect.
Once the dog has mastered the behaviour with a mark and a reward, remove the mark and later, switch the reward to being always treat based, to only sometimes treat based- but still reward with "good dog" and excitement.