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Training Levels

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Want to train your dog but not sure what behaviors to teach? A new Web site offers a brilliant solution.

Five years ago I attended a seminar given by wonderful Canadian trainer, Sue Ailsby. During the seminar she handed out a list of behaviors she used to judge the progress of her students through her classes, seven levels from beginner through competition-ready. You no longer have to attend a Sue Ailsby seminar to get this amazing list. Instead, just check out her Training Levels Web site.

In addition to the list of behaviors by level, there's also a free online book, written by Sue, explaining how to teach each behavior and a terrific mailing list where you can ask questions and find thousands of other people who are also following the Training Levels program. My favorite Training Levels resource, however, is the Training Levels Tracker, a terrific Web site developed by Justin Streufert that lets you record data about training sessions, test your dog's mastery of the Levels, monitor your overall progress, and blog about your experiences.

The first few times I looked at the Training Levels, I became overwhelmed. How on earth could I teach all that? But about a month ago, I decided, just on a lark, to see how much my dog Pax, who I haven't worked with since he was a pup, could do. Imagine my surprise when he not only nailed Level One, but also finished over half of Level Two. Within another day or two, he had finished Level Two, and Level Three wasn't looking quite so hard. As of today, I'm just a handful of behaviors away from finishing Level Three and having an absolute blast.

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Training Levels

I have used Sue's training level plans to help train my mobility service dog.  It's an easy plan to follow.


Aidan Bindoff's picture

"Splitting" for Trainers

It is overwhelming reading through the list of behaviours required for Level 7, but what I love most about Sue's Training Levels is, as you have found Melissa, that Sue breaks it all down into easily achievable chunks for us.