By Solid Gold and Warrior Canine Connection
Does your dog jump up when she’s excited you’re home? Is your dog constantly in the kitchen while you cook dinner? If any of these apply to you, the “go to bed” command may help! We’ve teamed up with Warrior Canine Connection for tips on how to teach your dog to choose lying down on her bed instead of engaging in behaviors that are not so appropriate.
Grab some Solid Gold kibble for treats, find a cushy spot for your pup and let’s get started!
Here's How You Can Get Started at Home
Start With a Food Lure
A food lure is a small, tasty piece of food held between your fingers. Place it right next to your dog’s nose and encourage her to follow it onto her bed and into a down position. When she lies down, say “yes!” in a high-pitched, happy tone to let her know she is correct. Follow it by releasing the treat.
Continue With a Target
You’ll want to repeat this step until your dog easily follows the food and anticipates lying down. Then, it’s time to fade your food lure while still keeping the “yes!” marker and treat as a reward. Instead of the lure, you can use a target to help transition to a verbal-only command. Tell your dog to “go to bed” followed quickly by using your hand in the same way you did while using the lure, but without food in hand.
Be generous with encouragement and praise throughout fading the lure. You will likely need to do several repetitions with the command and the target, until your dog is easily going to her bed and lying down. It’s a good sign if she starts the behavior after you give the verbal command, and you can start making your target hand motion less and less obvious. Don’t forget to continue to mark and reward!
Tip: If your dog struggles with following your hand without food in it, you can hold the lure a few more times, but don’t feed it to her. Instead, reward with a different treat from your other hand.
Progress to a Verbal Command Only
Finally, you’ll use only the verbal command “go to bed” and wait for your dog to perform the behavior. After you’ve given the command, you can help by looking at the bed and waiting a few seconds. Only give a small target if needed. When your dog performs the behavior by just giving a verbal cue, give extra bonus treats (2-3) and lots of praise.
Once your dog can easily “go to bed,” you can add challenges by increasing the distance from the bed by a few feet at a time and by increasing the length of time she stays in a down position. Only introduce one challenge at a time and avoid adding time and distance concurrently.
Tip: Choose short training sessions (3-5 minutes) and always end on a high note after a success. You want your dog wanting a little more, so she’ll be excited for the next session!
Your final step is adding distractions, like toys on the floor or while you’re making dinner.
Always make it easy for your dog to succeed, and have fun celebrating their successes!
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that enlists Service Members and Veterans with combat stress in the critical mission of training service dogs for fellow wounded Warriors. Solid Gold is proud to be the exclusive food provider for WCC since 2014.
More About Warrior Canine Connection
Warrior Canine Connection enlists recovering Warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans.
Unlike most service dog programs, WCC’s unique Mission Based Trauma Recovery model allows not just one wounded Veteran to benefit from the placement of a service dog, but many, many more who receive therapeutic benefit from participating in the dog training program.
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