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Ask the Expert: Q&A

Reinforcing Cues from a Distance

Q: I'm training my dog, an English springer spaniel, to do signals for Utility obedience competition. My dog understands what the sit signal is. When I am close he sits up like a rocket, as I get further he sometimes hesitates, and if too far, doesn't do it at all. If I go back, again he sits up like a rocket. However, when I go just a bit further, he sits on the signal but moves forward a bit. I have used things to prevent him from moving forward but they only temporarily fix the problem. I'm looking for some guidance on building a sit signal so my dog eventually understands that I can give the signal when I'm 20 feet away from him. I'm not in a hurry and am willing to build; just not sure I'm going about it right.

Beyond the Target Stick

Q: I have started target stick training with my 4-year-old lab, Carter. He is very quick to learn and really enjoys it. I've gotten him to touch the stick in many situations, and have shortened the stick, but he still wants to touch the end of the stick when I say "target." Where do I go from here? How do I teach him to touch objects and not the stick each time? I would like to teach him to maybe turn lights on and off or something challenging and interesting. He learns so quickly he needs a constant challenge. Any suggestions?

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