This Month's Highlight on Health
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
The term Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) refers to several conditions that can affect the cat's urinary bladder and/or urethra. Cats with FLUTD are typically middle-aged, neutered, and/or overweight. Because these disorders present with very similar clinical signs, additional diagnostic tests are generally needed in order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. Read more...
Place is handy for any situation where you would want to send your dog to a location where he or she will sit or lie down and stay. For the case where you are training your dog to lie down calmly in the face of high distractions such as visitors coming to the door this exercise is helpful.
By now, Fido knows to go to his rug if you walk over with him and he has targeted many times. He's used to running to the rug. He should even go spontaneously to the rug on his own when he sees you bring out the Treat&Train and rug. Now we'll teach him to run to his rug on cue with the Treat&Train near the rug.
If Fido is not already happily going over to the rug you may have used food that is not high enough in value or he's been reprimanded and associated the rug with bad things. If this is the case, spend a few days letting him earn all of his food by lying down on his rug with the Treat&Train (or start over with a new rug). Once he gets to the point that he immediately follows you to his rug when you bring out the Treat&Train start working on "place."
Step One: Targeting and then Lying Down
Target Fido several times and then follow him to his rug. Then while he's standing on his rug getting his treat for targeting, give him the verbal or visual cue to lie down. Once he's down, dispense a few more treats at varying intervals so he continues to remain staying in a down-stay rather than developing a pattern of getting up right after he gets his treats. You can even give him a "jackpot" by pressing the DISPENSE button for several seconds while he's lying down. When you're sure he's in a stable down-stay, go ahead and target him off again and repeat the exercise.
Make sure you target from many directions relative to the rug so that Fido learns to lie down in the correct orientation, regardless of the direction from which he approached the rug. When Fido reliably runs to the rug after targeting and lies down quickly on the first "down" cue or without a cue 9 out of 10 times in a row, continue on to the next step.
Step Two: Reward After Lying Down
In this step, when Fido targets, don't TONE & TREAT until after Fido Lies down on his rug in front of the Treat&Train. That is, after he targets he should automatically run to the Treat&Train because it's a habit now. If he's really ready for this step, he should stay at the machine and look at it expectantly. Then, you can either wait a second to see if he'll lie down on his own, or cue him down verbally. You need to be sure he lies down in the right orientation. Remember to reward him several treats at irregular intervals once he's lying down, so that he doesn't anticipate that you will call him off to target. Once he's in a stable down-stay and doesn't look poised to get up, then you can target him off the rug. When he is reliably running to the machine after targeting and lies down to get his treat 9 out of 10 times in a row, go to the next step.
Step Three: Using Food as a Lure
Now Fido should clearly show that he likes lying down on his rug in front of the Treat&Train machine- he knows that lying down in front of the Treat&Train is what makes the treats come out. Now call him to you (or target him) and then gently grasp his collar before he can go back to his rug. When you call him to come, you can give him a treat for coming if you want so that he maintains a positive association with coming to you and having his collar held. When you're holding onto his collar, Fido should want to immediately go back to the machine so that he can lie down and get a treat.
Still holding his collar, from about 5-10 feet away, release a treat from the machine in order to lure Fido's attention to the Treat&Train. He should be looking at the machine. Then say "Place." Within a split second, release his collar. "Place" will come to predict that he gets the opportunity to run to the rug and lie down. Once he gets to the Treat&Train and is eating his eating his treat, tell him to lie down, then give him a few more treats at variable intervals. Make sure you continue giving treat until he's stable in his down-stay and gives no indication that he wants to run back to you.
Step 4: Place Without Luring
Repeat Step 3 but this tie don't TONE & TREAT until after Fido has run to his rug and laid down. You can still verbally cue him to lie down if that's what you want for his final behavior. Otherwise, just wait until he automatically lies down before you TONE & TREAT. Once Fido completes 9 out of 10 repetitions in a row on cue, you have finished this game!