Training Stages - When To Move On
A good way to establish reliability is working on a % scale. To do this, count out five treats and then cue the behaviour. For example, if we were training the stay command for up to 20 seconds at 5 metres away or walking around your dog it would look like this: Each time your dog stays for 20 seconds release with “FREE” command and reward. If your dog doesn’t stay then don’t treat and set aside the treat as a ‘counter’. Repeat the exercise until you have no more treats. Count the number of treats set aside.
If you have one or no counters set aside, your dog is at least 80% reliable at the current criteria level. Push—raise your criteria. Step over him, speed up your walk around him, get another person to walk with you. If working from 5 metres increase the distance to 6, turn your back on him, wave your arms around, jump on the spot etc. and repeat.
If you have three or more counters set aside, your dog is at 40% reliability or lower which means you are pushing your dog too far. Go back a step and lower your criteria, only walk half way around him, go slower with your steps around him, just one person walking or reduce the distance to 4 metres and no movement and repeat.
If you have two counters set aside, your dog is 60% reliable at the current criteria level. Keep working from here—do not raise your criteria yet. Do another repetition and reassess your dog’s progress.