canine freestyle moves database

food circuit

This exercise builds drive and focus.

It requires the dog to put his feet up on you. If you have a large enthusiastic dog that is rough and pushes you when he makes contact, first teach him to put his feet on your forearm bent across the front of your body. Teach it like a “touch” so that he does not throw his weight on you.

Teach him to make the contact on cue and to get off on cue.

If you have trained putting his paws both on and off you under stimulus control he will not “jump on you” or other people, uninvited, looking for treats or attention.

The Teach

Face a direction.

Have the dog put his front paws on you and feed a treat from the hand while his paws are on you. This is to build pack drive.

Have one treat in your left hand.

When the dog jumps off, cue "round***" and move in a clockwise circle on the spot luring your dog around by holding the treat in your left hand at the dog's nose height.

When you have done a full 360 circle (ie you are facing the direction you were originally facing) cue "go" or “get it” and throw the treat forwards so the dog chases it and gets it. Make sure the dog sees the treat thrown.

Be silent as the dog goes out. When the dog gets the treat excitedly yell out "wow" and other words of praise and encouragement until the dog gets back.

Repeat the "round" and the "go" another 2 times, each time throwing the treat further and further forwards away from you.

After the 3rd return have the dog put his paws on you again and feed one or multiple consecutive treats from the hand.

This is trained like any other exercise.
Initially the dog will be slow. As he learns the game and gains confidence he will speed up.
Keep this game fast. Don’t let the dog wait between the three throws. Keep him moving.

Eventually he will not need to be lured around. You will be able to stand still and just say "round" and the dog will go around and run out to get the treat.

Make sure you have only one treat in your hand when you throw, as you do not want to throw multiple treats. The treats should not be crumbly or sticky. The throw should be clean with the dog going out with deliberation to pick up one treat and return immediately and not spend time looking for treats.

Practise this in different directions in different locations.

If the dog anticipates running out to get the treat before you have thrown it, throw it in the opposite direction. The dog needs to learn to stay focused on you.

This exercise builds up the dog's prey drive and he gets to eat what he "catches".

To incorporate this in training, ask for a behaviour and follow it with the food circuit.

If the dog is to work in a new location and seems a little slow at getting started, play the food circuit a few times to give the dog confidence and get his focus. He knows the game and will take less time to adjust to the new location.

This game is wonderful for dogs that are shy and timid and reluctant to offer behaviours. For these types of dogs it can take 2-3 months for them to get the confidence to run out with speed!

Here are some video clips to illustrate how it is done and what it looks like.

Initial Training

Sending the dog around

Learned (Apologies for the machine noise)