Attention | Training
the Bridge | The Lure | The
Target | Ring a Bell
Attention - The first step
Attention is what makes training your dog possible.
Your dog is paying attention and learning things all
the time. Teach him how to pay attention and learn from
Observe your dog. Whenever you notice him giving you
quiet attention reinforce him calmly with your attention:
a touch, praise, part of a meal - something you think
he would like.
Immediately ignore any pushy or rude attention.
1. Begin in an area where your dog finds you interesting,
speak your dog's name one time only, clearly
and softly. When your dog looks at you, instantly praise
him while he continues to look. Reward him with tiny
pieces of treats, part of his meal, favorite toys or
something else that your dog finds rewarding. Repeat
this 5-6 times a day.
If your dog jumps up on you, immediately lose interest
in him. Look at the ceiling and withhold the reward.
The instant his feet are on the ground continue your
verbal praise and the reward you are using. (This is
also the basis for teaching your dog not to jump up
In the beginning you can use a lure to help your dog
look at you. Hold the treat up near your eyes to help
him look up.
2. As soon as your dog begins to get the idea, don't
have food or rewards visible when you speak to him.
Produce the reward as soon as he comes and looks at
you. Remember to vary your rewards (food, toys, games,
3. If he doesn't look at you when he hears his name,
try hiding on him or try whipping out his favorite toy
and playing with it by yourself. Ignore him if he tries
to join in. Produce something yummy and eat it by yourself
(or if you don't share your dog's taste in treats pretend
to eat it!) Use your imagination & make it worth
his while to look at you.
4. Begin training in an area your dog finds you fascinating
- maybe the kitchen.
Gradually move to other locations and introduce distractions.
Practice outside, at the park, in the pet store. In
more distracting situations you will want to use higher
5. You should begin to see a marked increase in your
dog's attentive behavior, especially when he hears his
name. If you are not seeing improvement, make sure you
are not using his name to scold him. Check to be sure
you are not nagging him & saying his name over and
return to lessons
Training the Bridge
Use a Bridge - a word or sound that means "You
are right!" at the exact second your dog does what
you want. A bridge word or sound marks the split second
between your command ("sit") and the dog's
action (sitting) before you can give the treat. (See
Be Quick above)
Some examples of good Bridges are the words 'Yes', 'Good'
or a clicker.
The bridge will help you communicate to your dog that
they are right. It connects (bridges) the time between
your command, your dog's response, and your reinforcement
(reward). It allows you to pinpoint the exact moment
that your dog is right. They will soon learn that
when they hear the bridge, the behavior they are doing
is going to get them their reward! This encourages that
good behavior and allows them to associate that behavior
with the commands that you give.
Choose the word or sound you will use to tell your dog
he is right - the reward is coming.
Choose a quiet time when your dog is doing nothing
right or wrong and say the word or sound. Immediately
smile and give your dog a treat. Repeat this 10 or 20
times until he is looking at you expectantly every time
he hears the Bridge. An excellent time to teach this
is by hand feeding a meal.
Now you can practice using the Bridge at the second
that your dog is doing something right. Remember - good
trainers are quick. Practice using the bridge when you
see your dog doing something right.
return to lessons
The lure will help you teach teach your dog to pay
attention to your hands and allow you to teach your
dog a hand signal for each behavior. You will eventually
phase out the lure and continue using the hand signals.
1. Put a treat in your hand so your dog can see it.
Use your hand to lure the dog into the position you
want. When he is in position, immediately use your Bridge
and give him the treat. Remember to smile & project
2. When he is reliably performing the behavior you
want, continue to use the lure, but no longer give it
to him. Use your Bridge, but have the reward come from
somewhere else - a treat from your other hand, from
your pocket, from another family member, from the counter.
Now is also a good time to vary the types and the amount
of the reward you are using. (food, a toy or a game,
access to outside or a ride in the car - some are big
rewards and some are little rewards - you will be unpredictable,
variable and generous!)
Now, use your hand with no food in it to lure your dog
into position. This will now become your signal to get
the behavior. If your dog performs the behavior, use
your Bridge and give him a great reward. If he does
not respond, drop your hand to your side and quietly
give him a few seconds. If he still doesn't respond,
ignore him for a little bit and try again.
You can use a lure to help teach many behaviors like
sit, down and target.
return to lessons
1. Start in a quiet place when your dog is anxious
to do something with you. Put a handful of treats in
your right hand and stand or sit in front of your dog.
2. Put your left hand, palm open, close to your dogs
nose, he will probably reach out and sniff it. When
he touches it - give your Bridge and then treat &
3. Repeat step 2.
4. After a few repetitions most dogs will ignore your
left hand and stare at the hand with the treats!
When this happens you can speed things up by using a
lure. Holding a treat in your right hand, put it behind
your left hand. Keep your left hand close to your dog's
nose. He will accidentally touch your left hand while
trying to get the treat. Immediately give your Bridge
and then treat & smile.
5. When he is consistently touching your left hand,
gradually withdraw your right hand. Keep your left hand
close to his nose.
6. When he is consistently touching your left hand
without the lure, gradually move your left hand further
away so that eventually he is moving forward to touch
your left hand.
7. When he is reliably moving to touch your left hand,
you can begin to move your hand and Bridge him for following
8. Remember to keep the sessions short & stop while
your dog (and you) are still interested. Targeting can
often be taught in a few short sessions. Try it while
you are hand feeding a meal.
return to lessons
Using the Target to teach your
dog to ring a bell
1. Hang your bell on (or near) the door that you use
to bring your dog outside to go potty. Be sure your
dog can reach the bells easily. Choose a command that
will mean "go outside." We use "outside".
(If you are training an adult dog, you probably already
have a word that you use with your dog for "outside".)
2. Hold a treat in your right hand, place your left
hand (your target hand) in front of your treat hand
and touching the bells. When your dog's nose touches
your target hand, let your hand quietly ring the bell.
Use your bridge word and give the treat.
This will get your dog used to touching and hearing
the bells. It will give a positive association with
the sound of the bells. Gradually move your target hand
from in front of the bells to behind the bells. When
the dog sniffs the treat hand his nose will contact
the bells. When the bells ring, use your bridge word
and give the treat.
When your dog is reliably touching the bells with his
nose to get the treat, move on to the next step.
3. Repeat the above exercise (#2) and add your "outside"
command. When your dog's nose rings the bell, say your
bridge word, open the door and take the dog outside
and give the treat. You can practice each time you want
to take your dog out to potty. Ask him to ring the bell
before you open the door to outside. Very soon you will
hear the jingle of the bells when your dog wants to