The Catch Your Dog Being Good Game

At times we dog owners tend to focus on what our dogs are doing “wrong” (by our definition) rather than what they’re doing right. This game with a purpose is great practice in paying attention to your dog and reinforcing behaviors you like.

Day 1: Count out 5 nonperishable treats and place them in a bowl. Put the bowl somewhere convenient, but not where your dog can get it! If Fido gets excited watching you do this, just put the bowl somewhere and leave it alone until the dog forgets about it or isn’t hanging around it anymore.

While Fido is just hanging out being a dog, notice something good he is doing. Without drawing attention to what you’re doing, get a treat from the bowl, walk calmly over to Fido, say “Goooood boy” in a calm voice and deliver the treat, as long as Fido is still doing something you like. In other words, you are rewarding something that Fido has chosen to do; not something you have asked him to do.

Goal: Give out all 5 treats in the course of the day.

Day 2: Count out 8 treats and proceed as in Day 1.

Day 3: 10-12 treats

Day 4: 12-15 treats

Day 5: 15-20 treats

Day 6 and beyond: Randomly choose a number of treats to count out. Your goal is to reward your dog that many times in the day, using the instructions in Day 1. Always say, “Gooood boy,” but start skipping the treats now and then. Eventually there can be more instances of “Gooood boy” than treats, but continue to give out treats every so often to keep your dog guessing.

Benefits of the game: You learn to closely observe your dog, recognize and reward good behavior, and the dog has a great time getting treats! Yum! Make some notes of the great things your dog CHOOSES to do all by himself!

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“Our instructor helps both human and animal understand and accommodate to one another. We were also impressed that Kay carries out her training sessions with a kind, gentle approach—even with the pet owner!” —Pamela and Roger H. and "Fred" and "Molly"
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"I am slowly getting back into the world as I recover from my neurological disorder, and this journey toward recovery has been greatly accelerated by training and living with my Service Dog. I spoke with people who had been devastated by their illnesses and had become virtual shut-ins, and I observed how training and living with a Service Dog changed them. Their lives were transformed by getting back into the world; these folks now have the confidence to “fight the good fight.” Then one day I saw that same confidence in myself. I now go just about everywhere with my Service Dog. I want to thank Phyllis Allan and Savvy Canines for being so amazingly kind and patient with me and my dog. I would definitely recommend Savvy Canines of Arizona to anyone who is considering training a Service Dog."—Bruce and “Elwood”
“The Savvy Canines trainers are knowledgeable, consistent, and competent and love dogs. Phyllis provides a flexible schedule, comes to my home, and the cost is reasonable and well worth it. The classes twice a month are great for Molly to meet other people and dogs and to show off what she has learned. Molly and I are very pleased with the training from Savvy Canines.”—Diane and “Molly”
“The clicker training technique Savvy Canines teaches is very simple, yet powerful. Dogs actually enjoy learning tasks their partners want them to do when the clicker is used properly.”—George and “Rover”
“Kay (our instructor) is terrific in helping people understand their canine friends. She has a real understanding of dog behavior and is able to quickly tune in to what is going on in a human-dog relationship.” —Pamela H. and "Molly"
Our trainer has helped us establish a fantastic rapport with our dog! The clicker training has been great. Our dog is attuned to our needs and anticipates my commands for helping close doors on the cabinets and the refrigerator, and thoroughly enjoys adjusting the pedals on my wheelchair! We have been especially pleased with our trainer's willingness to work around our schedule because of my medical problems.—Mr. and Mrs. Larson
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