Oxford Puppy HeadStart Information – Week 2

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Puppy HeadStart Homework – week 2

Teaching Your Dog to Ring the Bells to Go Outside

Puppy HeadStart Homework – Week 2

The Eye Contact Game

Experiment with playing this game both on and off leash in a variety of environments. These may not be the most exciting or impressive exercises we do in class, but they are crucial to everything we teach afterwards. If you don’t have – or can’t get – your dog’s attention, you won’t get a reliable response to the more impressive commands either.

Week 2 Eye Contact Exercises:

Game: Look at Me If You Can’t Reach It! With your dog on leash, toss a treat or toy out of the leash range. Don’t let him pull you towards it – stand still. Wait until he turns and looks at you, then say “Yes!’ and “Let’s get it!” and run towards the treat/toy! (Run with him so that the leash stays loose, so he doesn’t practice pulling on leash to get to things he wants.)


He learns that he cannot pull you towards what he wants – he has to ask “please”!

There are multiple opportunities on walks to practice this – anytime he wants something out of leash range! For example, if he wants to pee on that bush but can’t reach it, wait until he looks at you, then praise and say “let’s get it!” and run with him to the bush!

If you can’t give him the thing he wants, reward him with a treat for looking back at you. Continue rewarding eye contact until he’s forgotten all about the thing! Sometimes in practice do just this, so he learns that he doesn’t always get what he wants, but often gets some pretty cool consolation prizes.

  • Bonus Game: Find My Face!

    Stand with your dog; when he looks at you, C/T. As soon as you treat, turn away from your dog, so he has to move to “find your face” and make eye contact. Start with just turning away 90 degrees, but gradually turn all the way around. This can be a very fun game for your dog!

    The Name Game

    This game is quite similar to the name game, but it is important that you practice them both. If your dog won’t look when you call his name, he probably won’t come, sit, or stay either! If you practice this exercise enough – with gradually increasing distractions – you can create a “whiplash head turn” when you call his name that is so conditioned that Fido doesn’t weigh his options – he just automatically responds. This is insanely helpful in so many situations – from calling him away from the goose poop he’s about to roll in, to getting his attention off of the squirrel, to calling him out of a dog-dog greeting situation that’s looking a little tense.

    Week 2 Name Game Exercise:

    Game: Respond to Your Name to Get What You Want! You’ll recognize this game as it’s similar to one of the Eye Contact Games described above. With your dog on leash, toss a treat or toy out of the leash range. Don’t let him pull you towards it – stand still. Call his name. Wait until he turns and looks at you, then say “Yes!’ and “Let’s get it!” and run towards the treat/toy! (Run with him so that the leash stays loose, so he doesn’t practice pulling on leash to get to things he wants.)

He learns that he cannot pull you towards what he wants and that blowing you off when you call his name does not help his situation. He has to respond to you to get what he wants!

There are multiple opportunities on walks to practice this – anytime he wants something out of leash range! For example, if he wants to sniff that pile of leaves but can’t reach it, wait until he responds to his name, then praise and say “let’s get it!” and run with him to the leaves!

If you can’t give him the thing he wants, reward him with a treat for responding to his name. Continue rewarding name recognition until he’s forgotten all about the thing! Sometimes in practice do just this, so he learns that he doesn’t always get what he wants, but often gets some pretty cool consolation prizes.

If it’s just too hard for him, try either backing away from the item (if he’s farther from it, it’ll be easier for him) or just go back to playing the Eye Contact Game for a little while.

  • Bonus Name Game Exercise:

    Game: To Get What That Guy Has, You Must Listen To Mom/Dad! Dogs often think that the way to get what they want is to blow you off. Here, we’re going to teach him that listening to you is the best way to get what they want!

    Hold the dog on leash. Have a helper, standing near you, show your dog a treat (but not give it to him). Call his name. If he looks, great – click, and then the helper will deliver the treat he showed the dog. The dog will learn that in order to get the treat the helper has, he has to look at you when you call his name.

    If you call your dog’s name and he ignores you, continuing to stare at the helper, then the helper should turn his back to the dog and become boring. Try calling your dog again with more animation. As soon as he hears you click, the helper should turn around and give the dog the treat. Repeat with different people in different locations until your dog is really good at this!

    You can start with having the helper show a boring treat, like a piece of kibble, too; gradually increase the value of the treat as your dog is successful!

    Greeting Manners (aka “Not Jumping Up!”)

    Be sure and read the handout on Jumping Up for for lots of tips! Remember, whenever your dog is doing something you don’t like, you need to follow these steps:

Determine what the dog is getting out of it – what is his reward for this behavior? (For jumping up it’s usually attention – eye contact, talking to/yelling at the dog, touching, etc.)

STOP that reward from happening. (For jumping up, remove all attention the instant his front feet leave the ground, or the instant you can see him thinking about it. Usually turning around is more effective than just looking away.)

Determine what you WANT the dog to do in that situation instead. (For jumping up, we start with Four-On-The-Floor, and then progress to sitting.)

Reward the dog INSTANTLY when he does the behavior you want. (For jumping up, this would be putting all four feet back on the floor. As soon as his front feet are back on the ground, praise; if they stay on the ground for one second, then pet. Gradually wait for his feet to be back on the ground for longer periods of time before you pet, although you can praise liberally while you wait.)

BE CONSISTENT. Everyone has to follow these rules, every time!

  • If you want him to jump up only upon request, wait until he’s very good at not jumping the majority of the time. Then, you can teach him to jump up only on command (and you can use it as a reward too!) I use the command “Paws Up”.

    Week 2 Greeting Exercise: Have people meet you on walks, etc. to continue practicing this in new places. Also, when it’s just you and your dog, wait for him to offer a sit before you pet him throughout the day. Turn sit into a “say please” for petting.

    Handling Exercises

    Your dog needs to learn to be handled for all sorts of husbandry behavior – ear cleaning, nail trimming, etc. For more tips, see the Handling for Grooming handout in your Raising Rover. Each week, we will focus on one area of the body and related husbandry activities.

    Our goal is for him to like these exercises, so always work at a level where he can succeed. Start with very small steps (for example, with nail trimming, start by just holding, or even touching, a paw), and pair that with a treat. Say “yes” or click AS you are touching or holding the body part, NOT after.

    Wait to progress to more difficult steps until he is calm, cool, and collected about the current step. This means no mouthing, getting crazy, nose poking, or pulling away – just kind of a “whatever, dude, go ahead” response. A tail wag is a bonus!

    Week 2 Handling Exercise: Collar Grabs! Now that your dog loves collar grabs, teach him to go with you while you hold him by the collar. Grab the collar, and apply some pressure by pulling in one direction; as soon as he comes with you for one step, click, release the collar, and treat. Gradually progress to two steps, then three, then more, in various directions until you can lead him anywhere by his collar. You may have to make him go somewhere by the collar someday – this will make it a lot easier! Helpful if you need to move him from one room to another when he doesn’t want to, or if his leash breaks on a walk and you have to get him home by the collar … and many other situations.

    You can also start adding collar grabs into more exciting situations (dog on other side of fence, etc.)

    Week 2 Handling Exercise: Feet! Teach your pup to accept nail trimming and filing. (Note: dogs tend to accept a portable Dremel with the sandpaper wheel better than nail trimmers.) These exercises are important even if you will take your dog to the vet to have this done – it will make his trips more pleasant for both him and the vet. Also, what if he cuts his paw someday? You may need to change the bandage 2-3x/day; imagine how much fun this won’t be with a dog who can’t handle having his paws touched!

    Nail clipping videos:



    Nail trimming articles:



    A video on dogs who trim *their own* nails (and yes you can teach your dog to do this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uveQtMsJas

    Leash Manners

    We will do most of our leash work in Basic Obedience 101, but we do the introductory work in Puppy HeadStart. Your dog pulls on leash because he’s excited – remember that moving forward is a reward, so if you let him pull you, he’s getting rewarded for pulling! Reward him for walking at your side (deliver the treat to the side of your leg, always, using the hand that’s on the side of the dog), turn around if he gets ahead of you or pulls, and if you’re going to let him pull, either use a different piece of equipment (like a harness) than you use to practice loose-leash walking, or give him a cue that he’s on “break” (like “free time!”) We will discuss all these details and more in class.

    Leash Manners Homework Week 2: Silky Leash! This is a great technique, and it’s easier to learn by watching than by reading. Basically we will start by teaching the dog that moving to release pressure on the collar pays well! We did not practice this in class, but we did practice a standing version – rewarding the dog for releasing the leash pressure.

    Here are the videos – please watch them and do just what Grisha says :



    Your dog should be the only one pulling :). Don’t let him move forward on a tight leash! Here is a good video: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=542463642539663&id=205372299547882&stream_ref=1

    Reward for Release of Pressure: Stand with your dog. If he hits the end of the leash, lock your arm in place and wait. The instant he moves to loosen the leash, click, and treat by your side (we want to build value for being near you). Eventually, we want your puppy to do this quickly and automatically every time he hits the end of the leash.

    Reward for Walking Without Pulling: We don’t want to only reward the dog for pulling and then stopping – so when you are with your dog on a walk, click and treat (by your side) for every couple of steps taken without pulling. Gradually increase the number of steps your pup has to take on a loose leash to earn a goodie.

    Remember, he doesn’t have to walk by your side – he just has to keep the leash loose, regardless of how much leash you give him.

    If Your Dog Pulls: Either stop and wait for him to loosen the leash (and reward for release of pressure) OR turn around and go in the other direction, rewarding him when he catches up to you (again, rewarding by your side). I like to say “uh-oh!” in a cheery voice when he hits the end of the leash, to let him know that is why we are stopping/turning around.


    Do this EVERY week – it’s one of the most important things you can do with your puppy. Dogs can learn stay and other obedience tasks at any time – but there is a finite socialization window that starts to close around 16 weeks of age. You can’t get this time back!! Read the handout in your Raising Rover, and use the Socialization Checklist handout, to get the most out of this developmental period.

    Here is another great article: http://sacramentodogbehavior.com/puppysocialization.htm

    Remember: avoid dog parks until your puppy is 5-6 months old. These mosh pits are for dogs that are ALREADY socialized, and who have a ton of great, happy experiences to help pad any unpleasant experiences they may have at the park. Some people bring unfriendly dogs to dog parks “because they need socialization” – these are not dogs you want your puppy to interact with!

    Find friends with other well-socialized dogs – adult dogs especially – and schedule “play dates”. If the adult dog generally interacts well with the pup, but corrects the puppy for inappropriate behavior, that’s GOOD! If the adult dog is not friendly, that’s not a good playmate . Also, if the adult dog lets the puppy get away with terrible behavior, you will need to step in and redirect your pup; we want the adult to teach the puppy manners!

    Remember to practice calling your dog’s name and doing collar grabs during your play dates!!

    Teaching Your Dog to Ring the Bells to Tell You He Has to Go Outside

    Step 1: Teach your dog to ring the bells for a treat.

    First, gather all the bells up in your hand so just the bells are dangling right below your hand. If your dog is worried about the noise, gather the bells up into your hand so they don’t ring as much.

    Start with your hand & bells behind your back. Present the bells to the dog – right in front of his fact – and he’ll probably touch it to see what it is. Click and treat (C/T) that touch. Once you’ve clicked, immediately put the bells back behind your back (do this after each repetition). Re-present the bells to the dog from behind your back. Repeat.

    If your dog starts ignoring the bells, hold them up to your face and act QUITE interested in them. “Oooooh, what’s this?” Then hold them back up to the dog. You can also try rubbing some hot dog or other meat on the bells themselves to add some olfactory interest.

    Once the dog is reliably touching the bells when you put them right in front of him, try making him work a little harder – first stretching his neck out a bit, then maybe even taking a step to get to them.

    Once he is doing this, gradually start letting the bells out of your hand a little at a time, until he will touch the bells when the entire thing is just hanging from your hand. Again, start asking for a little more effort on his part as he is successful.

    Once he loves the bell game, hang the bells from the door knob. You may have to hold the bells out to him a few times while he gets the idea in this new context. Play this game until he is good at ringing the bells from the doorknob for a treat. As he is successful, start backing away from the bells a bit at a time until he is going away from you to ring the bells.

    Now you can add a cue – “Bells!” or whatever you want to call it.

    Note: If you leave the bells hanging on the door between training sessions, if he rings the bell for any reason, even by accident, run over and give him a treat and open the door.

    Step 2: Transition the bells to mean “outside”.

    Now that he knows the game, when he rings the bells, open the door and toss the treat outside. If your outside area is not fenced, make sure you have a leash on him.

    As he gets better and better at this, you can start gradually removing the treat, so that he learns that bells = outside (no treat).

    Step 3: Ask him to ring the bells every time you open the door.

    When you are taking him outside, before you open the door, say “Bells!” and wait for him to ring them (help him by holding the bells up to him if he is not yet sure what you want) before you open the door.

    Step 4: Every time he rings the bells, you must go open the door and let him out.

    He needs to learn that bells = outside, so it must happen every time until he is reliably ringing them every time he wants to go out.

    Over time, you will start learning when he needs to go out to go to the bathroom and when he just wants to go out to chase a squirrel or whatever; at this point you can start telling him “no, not now” if you are 100% positive he doesn’t have to use the restroom.


    If he isn’t ringing the bells very loudly, you can start withholding clicks for the softer touches, and start rewarding him only for the louder ones, until he’s reliably ringing the loudly.

    If you have a big house or multiple floors, you can get more than one set of bells and hang them on different doorknobs in the house. If you have bells in another room, you may have to do a little practice – say “Bells!” and when he rings them say “let’s go outside!”, show him a treat, and run outside with him and give him the treat. You should be able to fade the treat pretty quickly the second time around.

    Each time you let him outside, as you are heading to the door, say “let’s go outside!” After a while, he should start to make the association. If he’s pacing or acting restless, you can say “do you want to go outside?” and in many cases he will run to the door on his own if that’s what he actually wants.