Once your dog understands what you expect/command, extra help such as verbal reminders, leg pats and leash cues should no longer be use.  In addition, at this stage, and food should no longer be used as a lure.

In the final stages of training, treat incentives become a reward for correct responses.  As your dog becomes more proficient, the reward should be given to your dog on a random basis to reward only the best responses and best efforts.  If your dog chooses not to respond correctly, the reward should be withheld/consequence.

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

  • Make sure your primary reward is your praise and that the toy and/or food are the secondary rewards. Praise can be used in the ring, but NOT toys nor food.
  • The reward your dog receives should match the amount of effort he puts forth!
  • 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!  Remember that there are no “do overs” in the ring.
  • Once your dog understands how to perform a skill or exercise, only reward his best efforts!
  • Avoid always advertising the fact you have food in your mouth or toys in your pocket!
  • As your dog becomes more proficient and you are preparing to show, the use of food and toys should become random.


  • Deliver food to your dog in a variety of ways.  Sometimes spit or throw treats, and at other times feed him from one hand or the other.  Do not give your dog a treat after you correct him.  Instead, give him the opportunity to repeat an exercise correctly in order to receive his reward.
  • Placement of food/rewards can accentuate your training.  Example: reward your dog up and forward to increase your dog’s drive forward or reward from behind you to discourage forging.