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"Check-In"

Dogs can have a tendency to tune us out when out on a walk. So many other interesting things around! Teach them to check in with you to make sure you stay connected.

How it's Done

Start at Level 1 and work through the steps.

Keep working through the steps until you meet the Success Criteria.

Then, go to the Next Level.

If your dog fails a level 3 times, go back one for a session.

In the next session, start where you left off.

Handler Skills

Focus

Be fully focused on your dog. That is really what dog training is all about - paying attention to each other.

Timing

The INSTANT your dog does what you wanted, tell them you like that! 

Feedback

Verbal feedback comes first. Tell them "good dog", "thank you", "you rock", "nice!" - something to let them know you are proud of them.

Reward

The treat comes last. Use them frequently at first, less as your dog gets better at the skill.

Step-By-Step

WEEK 2

By the end of week 2 your dog will be looking at you when asked anywhere in your home and offering voluntary attention more often.

Prompted Attention

LEVEL 1

Prompted Attention - focus on you when you ask

  1. Start inside your home with treats nearby but not in your hand. (Your dog will look at the treat and not at you if it's in your hand).

  2. Hold a treat in front of their nose or lips.

  3. Say the verbal cue "Look" or "Watch me".

  4. Slowly bring your index finger with the treat to touch your chin.

  5. When your dog looks at you, tell them "Nice"

  6. Feed the treat.

  7. After 5 reps, leave the treat in your pouch and hold your empty fingers in front of their nose or lips. Repeat steps 4 and 5. 

  8. Get a treat from your bag and give it to your dog.

Success Criteria

Your dog follows the cue and hand signal with an empty hand 4 times in a row.

LEVEL 2

The same thing happens no matter where we are

  1. Repeat Level 1 in different rooms inside your home.

Success Criteria

Your dog follows the cue and hand signal with an empty hand 4 times in a row in each room of your home.

Voluntary Check-In (unprompted)

LEVEL 1

When you look in my direction, you get praise and a treat

  1. Start inside your home with treats nearby but not in your hand. (Your dog will look at the treat and not at you if it's in your hand).

  2. Don't say or do anything - just wait.

  3. When your dog looks even in your general direction, say "YES!"

  4. Grab a treat and give it to your dog.

Success Criteria

Your dog is deliberately looking at you to get a treat.

LEVEL 2

The same thing happens no matter where we are

  1. Repeat Level 1 in different rooms inside your home.

Success Criteria

Your dog is deliberately looking at you to get a treat in every room of the home.

WEEK 3

By the end of week 3 your dog will more attentive to you even outside your home (IF you are also attentive to them).

LEVEL 3

Add Distractions slowly

  1. With your dog on-leash, step outside the door.

  2. Don't say or do anything - just stand still and wait.

  3. When your dog looks in your direction, say "YES!"

  4. Grab a treat from your bag and give it to your dog.

Success Criteria

Your dog may look around, sniff the ground, etc. but they frequently look in your direction for a treat.

LEVEL 4

Increase distractions

  1. Walk to the end of the driveway or outside hallway, etc.

  2. Stand still and wait. 

  3. When your dog looks in your direction, say "YES!".

  4. Grab a treat from your bag and give it to your dog.

Success Criteria

Your dog may look around, sniff the ground, etc. but they frequently look in your direction for a treat.

LEVEL 5

Use it in Real Life

  1. Take it on the road. Whenever you are out with your dog, watch for them to check in with you. 

  2. When they do, say "YES!"

  3. Grab a treat from your bag and give it to your dog.

  4. Smile at your dog and praise them when they give you their attention around distractions.

Success Criteria

Your dog stays "connected" with you when out and about and does NOT tune you out. They can still interact with the environment but not forget that you exist.