Wait for Your Food Bowl

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With your dog sitting at your side, hold her food bowl at chest level, and tell her to “wait.” Move the bowl (with food it in, topped with tasty treats) toward the floor 4 to 6 inches. If your dog stays sitting, click your clicker and feed her a treat from the bowl. If your dog gets up, say “Oops!” and ask her to sit again. If she remains sitting, lower the bowl 4 to 6 inches again, click and treat.

Repeat this step several times until she consistently remains sitting as you lower the bowl. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor without your dog trying to get up or eat it. Finally, place the bowl on the floor and tell her to eat. After she has had a few bites, lift the bowl up and try again, lowering the bowl a little farther this time. Repeat these steps until you can place the bowl on the floor in one motion and she doesn’t move until you tell her she can.

Generalize the “Wait” to other training scenarios by controlling the delivery of the reinforcer. For example, for “wait at the door,” have your dog sit and wait while you move your hand toward the door a few inches, click and treat. If she gets up, say Oops!” and have her sit again while you move your hand toward the door one inch. Click and treat. Gradually move your hand closer toward the doorknob, then jiggle the doorknob, then open the door a crack, then wider and wider until you can open the door without her getting up. If she gets up while you are opening the door, say “Oops!”, close the door, and try again. When she will wait with the door wide open, you can sometimes release her to go out the door, and sometimes go out the door without her.

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WDJ's Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

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