White terrier mix dog standing in a green field with a red collar on

Distance in Stand, bungee

The new exercise that I am going to demonstrate for you today will teach your dog to hold position even if you step away. To achieve reliable, consistent responses to this exercise we are going to focus on the initial movement. We will take a half step back. If your dog holds position we are going to mark “good” and then “bungee” back to reinforce in position. For this reason we are going to call it a “bungee step”. It’s also important to note that we will not be using the verbal cue “stay.” We want to teach your dog that whenever we prompt your dog to station on the training mat, there is an implied stay. In these exercises your dog is learning to offer this behavior as a default.

Prompt your dog to station on the training mat and and reinforce with 2-3 pieces of food for doing so. Giving them multiple reinforcers up front will help them get mentally and physically settled before you begin to raise criteria. Now go ahead and take a “bungee step.” Move your right foot back and shift your weight onto that back leg. If your dog holds position you are going to use a verbal marker, “good,” bungee back and deliver the reward. Now repeat the bungee step. Shift your weight back to your right leg, mark “good” and step forward to reinforce.  Keep a steady predictable rate of reinforcement, you should be establishing a rhythm to your reinforcement. Now let’s change the foot you’re leading off with. Lead off with your left foot, mark “good” and step back to your dog to deliver reinforcement. Repeat this one more time leading off with your left foot. Once you have decided to deliver your final reward you will give a release cue “all done” and reinforce for popping out of position. Follow this up with a one minute timed break.

Alternating between your left and right foot is important as it will help to generalize the training to different types of movement.

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