– Or shift responsibility to your dog!

Once your dog understands what you expect (your criteria), extra help (verbal reminders, luring, leg pats, leash cues, etc.) should no longer be used and food is taken away as a lure.

In the final stages of training, treat incentives should become a reward for correct responses.  As your dog becomes more proficient, the reward is given to your dog on a random basis to reward only the best responses and efforts.  If your dog chooses not to respond correctly, the reward should be withheld.  When he puts forth effort to respond in the correct manner, praise and reward him with treats, a game of tug, or both!

To ensure your dog will perform the exercises when the toy or food is NOT present and without any help, follow these simple guidelines:

As your dog becomes more successful with a skill 80% of the time (the 80% rule), start randomly saying your cue word or giving your signal with no treat/toy visible.

Give verbal praise or input during this phase of training.

DO NOT return to luring once you have successfully weaned off of visible rewards.  This will create a “helpless” dog.  That is, a dog that can no longer perform without visible lures.

Keep the rewards a surprise and use the games you have learned in this course to keep your dog’s focus and desire.

Make sure that your primary reward is your praise and that the toy and food are the secondary rewards.

Shift the responsibility of the skill to your dog.  This means no help from you, i.e. cues or extra commands. The first command is what counts!

Once your dog understands how to perform a skill or exercise, only reward his best efforts!

Avoid advertising the fact that you have food in your mouth or toys in your pocket!

Every dog is motivated by something!  Take the time to figure out what best motivates your dog and reward him for giving you his utmost!

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