Three 5 Minute Sessions for All Your Set Up Moves

All the tools you need for the immaculate set up moves you’ve already seen in the Set Up Move video and the full lesson.It’s simple, elegant and effective. Here’s how to put it into effect.

Here is a more recent version of the drill…

Good Things Happen in Threes

We’re going to get three of each set up move and then move on.

Three reps of Around (clockwise)

– Set the hook on the lure and begin to pull the dog around, mark when the dog is following at the match – or the passing of the cookie – mark again and reinforce the dog in Heel position (standing).

Three Reps of Around (counter clockwise)

Repeat the above in the opposite direction.

End of Session – Go Do Dog Stuff – Max time 2 minutes. Ideal time < 30 seconds.

Three Reps of Backwards Through

Set the Hook on the lure and begin to pull the dog around (clockwise). Mark when the dog follows the match – the passing of the cookie between your legs – and reinforce the dog in Change position. Pay the dog continuously as you lean over top of them. Squeeze the last cookie in a fist and push the dog back for them to back up (Scoot), mark and reinforcing the dog behind you.
Repeat with the Counter Clockwise backwards through.

End of Session – Go Do Dog Stuff – Max time 2 minutes. Ideal time < 30 seconds.

Three Reps of Through

Complete the Around skill (clockwise) marking at the finish position of that skill, then step back with the leg that is furthest away from the dog and pass the cookie from your left hand to right between your legs (an opposite backwards through). Mark the moment of the match as your dog is following, and reinforce in heel or side position.
Repeat with Around (counter clockwise).

End of Session – Go Do Dog Stuff – Max time 2 minutes. Ideal time < 30 seconds.

Big Picture

This skill is about motion. Take care to Hook your dog with that lure and be careful that you’re not holding the lure too low or making the lure too accessible. Know that you are leading your dog and offer that lure with the intent to move them.

If anything goes awry with a repetiton of any of these set up moves, stop and reset. Resist the desire to muscle this skill. Skillful handlers will find it easy to muscle these set up moves even if they have or they are falling apart, but the wise handler knows that practice doesn’t make perfect… Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. The strength of this drill lies in it’s elegance, clarity and simplicity. Surefire performance and understanding at the same time. It can be perfect Practice.

Muscling foundational elements is not perfect practice, it’s struggling, behaviors will get muddy and we will create weak links in our complex behavior chains Frisbee Game.

This skill will transfer readily to discs, to boot. As we are really working on getting the dog to understand that each hand has value and that value is transferred from one hand to another when the hands meet. Put a disc in each hand (or one and pass it) and use them just like the cookies.

Repeat this drill, once or two times a day. That’s 1.5 minutes per day once you’re competent as a team. Our experience is that after 3 reps of this game (Perfect Practice) it’s fairly easy to transfer this skill to discs.

As always… questions and comments? Post a Reply.

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  1. Hi Ron,

    A couple of questions regarding luring with treats. My dogs are pretty highly food motivated which sometimes overpowers their head and they can get pushy. When I am luring they are getting the cookie really quick to when the move is competed. I am finding that more often then not that we are on the borderline of them almost taking the treat rather then me offering it as the reward. As I said this is border line. How can I step this back a bit ? I also don’t want them pushing the move and me because they then screw me up *laugh*. Should I be holding the lure(cookie) a certain way and at a certain height/distance so I am in more control of the game?

    You mentioned that next week we will move this set of lessons rewards value on to a medium value toy. Being that I am not dog trainer savoy I will need a we help clarifying this one. I gather that this means a toy that does not make them as nutty as a disc but still drives them to want to get it as a reward? Assuming that is correct then my next comment and question is this. I allow my dogs access to every toy in the house that belong to them besides discs 24/7 so their drive for a toy may not be anywhere near what their food drive is. Will this effect where we are in our training if they are not as highly motivated for that toy reward as they are for food?

    I know that somewhere here I have a toy that I only brought out at special times for Petals to play with that she went crazy over. However it is a toy that is more a puzzle and is not something that you just instantly throw or tug. It’s a soft cube that has 4 squeaky balls in that she pulls out that I will throw once she gets each out. But I can use that for driving her if you think it can work.

    I do not have anything like that for Rayne yet.

    Considering all the above what would you suggest for us when we move on to med toy motivators?


    1. In the case of dogs that are not over threshold with discs, we can move right to discs instead of a medium value toy.
      You might want to give that a try.
      As a matter of fact, you guys with the Sneak Peek headstart should be moving on about now. I’ll see about getting a blog entry up about that. This evening.

      1. Follow-up question to what Marion shared above here about the dog being somewhat pushy when taking the food reward. I am running into that problem a little bit, Cricket is really food motivated and she works and moves quickly to my lures, but she is a little (sometimes more than a little) mouthy when it comes to actually transferring treat from my hand to her mouth. Other than it being annoying and pushy, is this something I need to clean up?

  2. Hi Ron,

    I am going to try and get a video out tomorrow on where we are with the moves we are working on. Sorry for the delay I had to figure out the front and rear cross which took longer then i had hoped. Now I just have to see if I can record indoors without help or wait for someone to video me in the yard. Which may have to wait until Sat.


  3. Arounds… when you do your sets of 3 reps do you ever bring the dog in a full circle around you? So if I am working starting with the dog on the left side and I go around counter clockwise to the right can I then move from there bring the dog around in front to the left side and behind again? Or break it off and set back to left (side) postion?

    1. I think you should probably make them discreet skills.

      Although flow is a good thing too.

      You just want to be careful that you do not link your set up moves into chains foundational-ly.


    1. Go Around

      You might want to start out in Front Position.

      Good job rewarding for position and for the approach @:45.

      Great job with the short session on the go around, that really helps to cement each concept.

      Backwards Through

      You might want a bit more reinforcement in Change position so the dog is comfortable. I’d also like to see you pull Yuri out a bit further in front of you so you can get a better representation of that heavy pressure position.


      I really like the cuing of the scoot by removal of the cookie. That’s nice! When you go to prompt switch it, remember to add the new cue (Verbal) then the old cue (spreading of the legs, presentation and removal of the cookie) and then just start to fade the old cue.


      Positioning work is great as well, Chardy. A little more smooth movement on the finish of your hand cues would help get that sit to go a bit better. You can scoot from heel and side, I call this Get Back, it’s a nifty move for flow and set up moves.


      I’d like to see a more slow and deliberate passing of the target on your rear cross, but it’s fine, I’m sure you’ve worked on it with your agility foundation.

      Really good stuff, Chardy. Again, I’d like the crossing to be less drive and more thoughtful, but really good stuff. I especially like how short each lesson was.

      Great show!

  4. Hey Ron, about the go do dog stuff. Is this sonething you teach him how to do? For example I do each session and then when I finish Lupo keeps looking at me wanting more and somethimes he barks asking for more.

    1. That’s pretty much it, Georgios, but it’s not quite.

      Defining Dismissal

      First off, you won’t end the session with it. Dismissal does not mean the end of the session, it means “I’m (the handler) off limits now.” It is entirely different from “We’re finished working.” It’s also completely different than “OK. You may go,” or,”OK. You may stop doing that now.”

      For me, “Go Do Dog Stuff” is my Dismissal Cue. My finished working cue is,”All Pau” and my release cue is the dog’s name (soon to be the name said twice, once for eye contact, the second for release).

      Lupo very well may stay and look at you, and possibly bark. What you are looking for is a disengagement of some kind, the dog doesn’t have to leave, just leave you alone. Once the dog disengages then we are ready to capture something to bring them back in the game. Eye contact from a distance perhaps… or maybe a Down or a “Go to Spot”, perhaps he decides not to chase a bunny that hops by… whatever the choice is yours. All he has to do is disengage. Then you can shape him back into the game.

      Here’s a piece I did a while back, The Economics of Distraction, that may shed some more light on it, just in case you have not read it yet.

      What Do I Do if He Barks at Me?

      If your dog barks at you during dismissal there are several things that we can do about it.

      1. Ignore it
      2. Disengage
        Dog barks >> Turn Away/Leave the working space
      3. Quit
        Session is Over.

      I am sure there are more, but these are the 3 most common approaches.


      Ignoring actually works. Ignore the barking and wait for the dog to disengage. Dog Disengages, give them a moment or two, find an excuse to reinforce them – something you like,”Yes!”, then bring them back in and work. Repeat.


      Disengaging can be tricky with some dogs, herding dogs in particular. The turning away from the dog can be exciting for them if they believe that they are making you hop with their barking. If you always turn around when the dog barks, then facing up on you and barking to make you turn around so we can do it again is a fairly fun game – it’s at least got rules that are simple to understand.

      Also Disengaging can and should be gradated and nuanced. A really annoying behavior or serious behavioral faux pas can get a big screaming disengagement. Robot-like about face – turn away and cross the arms. This is unmistakeable communication, closing everything about the handler off from the dog. But if you do this for the most minor behavioral infractions, then you lose the ability to communicate more subtly. A mild bark, for instance, a little woof, while you are trying to stop the barking, may get just a tiny look off from the dog – a small head turn, removing focus from the dog. Where as a major woof out and pounding on your body for good measure might make you leave the room or go sit down. Of course you could have a zero tolerance policy on barking, meaning any bark halts the game… I’ve done that before for tough nuts to crack, but it usually isn’t necessary if you are using all of the tools at your disposal and good at creating and managing the dog’s good behavior

      Of course Disengaging is Punishment (-P) and not Reinforcement. It doesn’t tell the dog what to do and it can increase the frustration level. Ideally, I like to go with Reinforcement rather than Punishment to teach.


      Quitting is a valid approach to halting a behavior such as barking. I’ve already mentioned a zero tolerance policy on barking, forcing this terminal disengagement. It works.

      The problem with it is that the lesson is over. You were trying to work “Go Do Dog Stuff!” and you wound up only working frustration and you punished barking. Big whoop! 🙂 Not that it isn’t effective or important, it’s just that your training session is now over and you didn’t get much out of it. I call quitting as punishment “Packing It In” and use it frequently – any time a tooth touches my skin for instance – instant Quit – “Whoa! All Pau!” and we’re done.

  5. Thanks a lot Ron, you actually covered more that I asked for which is great, because in the last 2 training session ater a while he was nipping in my trousers (not a lot, but enough to be annoying) and also jumped on me (More like humping actually) ans I was wandering what I was gonna do with it. I might have to try the quit solution when he is too pushy, which might delay our progress but at least eventually we ll be able to work better.

    PS: Is there any chance he is doing it because he is tired and is losing focus or is it overexcitement? Because in the beginning he is 100% there. For example we start with sit positions. Great! Around -great! Spin – great! And then he do the backwards through and he is barking and flying towards the treat.
    Maybe a video will be better where I catch it in action.
    Thanks for your reply anyway!

    1. Right on Georgios! Sounds like a plan. Be sure to use all the tools as you work through issues like that. It provides and complete picture and solid contrast.

      As far as your PS, yes on all counts. Put up a video.

      And if you’ve got good work at 30 seconds, stop and Dismiss him. Wrangle him back in by shaping something you like and get another 30. Many times stopping problem behaviors is best done by avoiding them.

      I do 3 reps of a skill then dismiss. Three Arounds, perhaps clock and counter-clock if they’re solid or if the dog is really biddable. Go Do Dog Stuff… then capture attention or something and bring them back in for the next skill.

      Another thing you can do is to mark and reinforce Attention (unsolicited eye contact) and reward to the dog’s mouth or the floor with a cookie. A couple of those should help settle the dog.


  6. Ron you may have answered my earlier question in your last comments to Georgio at the end when explaining when you would use a full out “Quit”… i.e. anytime dogs teeth touches skin. Is this something I should be doing when Cricket gets pushy, and then mouthy with my delivery of treats?I have some video if it’s helpful to see?

    1. I would work some low intensity cookie work as a separate session, perhaps just Attention (unsolicited eye contact). Present the cookie so the dog can almost eat it, they’ll paw, bite and then lick. Give the cookie when you feel the dog’s tongue on your fingers and the bite on your flesh doesn’t happen.

      You can also squawk and consequently remove the cookie if the dog bites flesh on the taking of the cookie.

      I might “Pack It In” here, quitting the session, but that winds up being the end of the lesson – there is no more learning. I’d like to see this behavior so I can perhaps give you more specific advice…

  7. Hey Ron,
    Here is a link of us doing some of the foundational moves yesterday. I think you can see what I am referring to in terms of the mouthy stuff (1:45) and (4:25). I allso taped this session prior to reading more about the necessity to be super clear and distinct with the hand to hand transfer. In this video you’ll see my mechanics are pretty sloppy relative to what we are looking for here. I even do a few fake outs, where I have food in both hands anne “pretend” transfer (2:50). I begin to see the ill effects of this “short cut” later in the session when working on backward through (5:12). After reading through the additional lessons and your comments to other folks about this piece, I will be sure to clean that up so I get real, true, conceptual understanding. I also begin to see the value of the eye contact to start the game, she gets a little frenetic and over aroused (subtle, but noticeable to me) when I didn’t use it and had all movement and action. (3:15)

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