Principles for the Working Dog

Set Position

When we set the working dog on their Spot or Pedestal, it would be a good idea to use a very high rate of reinforcement not unlike Step 2 from last week – Creating Desire for Duration.

At Pawsitive Vybe, any time we encounter a challenging situation or absolutely must have the dog hold position (pictures, filmwork) we go ahead and revisit the foundational aspects of this behavior, namely Desire for Duration. We trigger, or rekindle, the memory of the learning process, they get tons of cookies. Then we release the dog.

3 Successful Reps

Before working with the Distraction Dog, we need a few reps of the Spot Behavior for the Working Dog. We need to get our Working Dog successfully released 3 times before we add the Distraction Dog.

Reinforcement as Distraction

Last week we talked about giving our dog a cookie as we stepped over them to help generalize our position. CookieA Cookie is traditionally thought of as a food treat given as positive reinforcement. In that definition, a cookie is a discrete piece of food reinforcement. In many dog training discussions, the idea of the Cookie is a bit less discrete and encompasses more types of reinforcers than food. The term Cookie is often verbal or metaphorical shorthand for dog... More as a Distraction is a great concept and one that we need to keep in mind if we are going to work multiple dogs.

The Working Dog is going to be distracted quite frequently during the course of this class. Putting cookies on those distractions and rewarding for position on the dog’s Spot or Pedestal will ensure our success.

There is the proactive, giving of a cookie, where we purposefully give the cookie in order to distract our dog from the environment or to keep them busy as something exciting happens.

There is also the idea of the reinforcement given to the Distraction Dog being a distraction (remember that anything our dogs like or want can be used as reinforcement) that we need be mindful of. We may need to pay the Working dog while the Distraction Dog is getting reinforcement in order to keep the Working Dog on track.


A Tether is esentially a Tie Out – a leash attached to the leg of the table or stake in the ground, something that localizes the dog without the handler’s intervention.

Tethering the Working Dog to an area directly adjacent to the spotSpot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools.... More can dramatically increase the handler’s freedom to allow the Working Dog to come to their own decision as to whether or not to perform the behavior. Tethering allows the handler to wait for the Spot behavior to happen and to not have to worry about the Working Dog being reinforced by interaction with the Distraction Dog.


Be sure to Release the Working Dog frequently. Duration is defined by the Release.


Go Do Dog Stuff… It’s great for working multiple dogs.