Here are the weekly handouts for the My Dog
Has C.L.A.S.S. class. You and your dog will
get out of it what you put into it. Practice
what you've learned every day but keep it
fun. Turn training into a game. Ask your
dog for something (such as a sit or down)
before giving something that he or she wants,
such as a game of tug, dinner, a ride in
the car, a chance to go outside, some time
on the sofa with you, etc. Think of more
things your dog likes and values and use
them as rewards.
Probably the single most important concept
for you to know and remember is that training
is all about building a relationship between
you and your dog and providing or controlling
consequences for the dog. It's important to
remember that all
animals repeat behaviors they find rewarding.
Behaviors that are not reinforced in any way
will fade and eventually extinguish.
Dog-friendly training works by reinforcing
desirable behaviors with praise, treats and
play. Undesirable behavior is either not rewarded,
prevented from being self-rewarding through
appropriate management of the environment,
or redirected into an incompatible activity
that can be reinforced/rewarded. Corrections
(such as the use of time-outs), when indicated,
are used to instruct rather than to punish
the dog and are never physically painful or
Please keep your instructor informed if you have any questions or can't attend class.
Training and Name Recognition
Leash Walking: Part 1
Leash Walking: Part 2
Your Dog to Come
No Door Dashing!
Working on Duration
Finished! Release Cues
Being Polite at the Food Bowl:
Your dog should learn to wait for the food bowl
until released to eat out of it. At mealtimes
play the Airplane Game with the food bowl. Lower
it slowly. As long as your dog stays in position
(usually the sit) you will keep lowering it to
the floor. Bring it back up and out of reach
anytime she gets out of position. The bowl gets
lowered all the way to the floor only if her
butt remains in place. Release her to eat when
she is sitting and waiting politely. (Do not
have her learn to have patience and impulse control
on her own without you telling her what to do
every step of the way. She needs to internalize
this not wait for you to constantly direct her.)
By week 3 (or sooner) you should not be
using a treat to lure into a position. You
should only be showing and giving the treat
after your dog successfully does the behavior.
If you still are, please phase it out quickly.
Work on moving into different positions (sit
from down; down from sit) without your lure.
It's time to make the leap, trust your dog,
and stop! You don't want a dog that will only
listen to you when you have a treat in your
hand. Also, place your treat pouch behind
you. Don't make the treats so obvious.
Keep track of your pet's progress so you will know if you are
going too fast or if you can add in more challenges. If your
dog does an exercise correctly 5 out of 5 times you can make
it slightly more difficult. If he or she is right 3 or 4 out
of 5 times, keep doing what you're doing until it's close to
perfect. If your dog is only correct one or two out of five
times, you need to make the exercise easier.Always strive to
keep your dog successful so training stays fun and motivating.
Clicker: You should be fading out the clicker for the skills
your dog has mastered such as sit. The clicker is used to teach
new behaviors; it's not needed for skills your dog knows well.
Rewards: It's also time to start using a variable
rate of reinforcement. What this means is
that instead of treating every time your dog
does something that you ask for (and that he
has mastered) you will treat in a more unpredictable
fashion. Definitely reward when your dog delivers
outstanding behavior such as a super fast
down or something done in a very distracting
environment. Don't move to variable rewards
too soon, but once your dog is ready for
this reinforcement schedule, he will actually
Adding the cue: If your dog is completely understanding your
commands and doing it the first time asked when you use the
hand signal, and without a treat in your hand, start adding
in the name of the cue (such as "down").
Passive Attention: Don't forget to keep rewarding when your
dog chooses to look at you. The more you reinforce it the more
often your dog will think it's valuable to check in with you.
Going for Distance.
When you ask your dog for
a stay, be sure to use the release word you have
chosen; it's not ok if your dog makes the decision
when to get up. Maintain your criteria!
You may now be adding distance to the stay exercise.
Be sure not to go too fast too soon. Keep your
dog successful. That might mean making it easier
by not going so far away, or coming back and
rewarding sooner. If your dog keeps getting
up when you move away, start by just moving
your feet in place. Then take a half step back
and return immediately and reward. If you train
in a logical, step-by-step fashion your dog
will learn without begin confused.
How about teaching a trick to your dog? It's
another fun way to engage with your dog and
let your dog use her brain (and burn some energy).
Here are a couple of links to get you started.
How To Begin Training Tricks
Cool Dog Tricks
after your dog successfully completes two or multiple cues in
a row such as sit, down, sit..
Here are exercises to work on:
Teaching the Drop Cue
Use Tug-of-War to Teach Drop and Take
Video: Ideas on Changing Problem Behaviors
By now your dog should be doing some great
stays and not moving until you release. As
you know, the stay exercise has three components:
duration, distance, and distraction. Let's
put them all together! When you are moving
away from your dog, be sure to go back and
reward his great stay often; don't always move
away and then call. Your dog will begin to
anticipate this and will start self-releasing.
Goals: If you have been working hard you may
be able to move 10-20 feet away from your dog
while he stays. The goal is to have him staying
for 30 to 60 seconds between treats for a total
of 3-5 minutes. You are right on target if he
will stay with you clpaain gyour hands, stomping
your feet, tapping the ground, talking on a
cell phone, etc.
You want your dog to be walking on a loose leash and be able to pass treats on the floor with "leave it" (no yanking the leash!). For recalls, your goal is to have your dog respond with one cue even around mild distractions.
Putting It All Together
Job well done. In your final class you will
get to do a mock evaluation to see what you
need to work on. When you are ready, register
for a real evaluation to get your first C.L.A.S.S.
Dog BA level certification.
My Dog Has C.L.A.S.S. is
a three-level evaluation for
students to demonstrate the
real-life skills of their
dogs, as well as a knowledge
assessment of the students’
understanding of basic dog
handling and care.
this video to see what the test is all
The C.L.A.S.S. Student Handbook is another resource for those participating in the program. It will give you greater understanding about dog training and behavior, as well as how to prepare for a successful evaluation. You can find a copy here.
Keep having fun with
your dog and don't stop teaching and learning.
Continue to challenge you and your dog with
new skills. Take another class. How about
Fido Fun & Games, or Intro
to Agility, to name a few possibilities?
Additional Dog Training