Part Two: Adding Duration to the Station
Your dog loves the station and will happily race across the room and hop on. What’s next?
It’s time to add some duration! After all, the behavior is pretty useless if the dog won’t stay on the station!
If you missed part one of this series, go read it here!
Let’s talk about how to do that! First, I feed on the station. I like to feed in a way to encourage a down behavior, but personally do not require the dog to lay down. My criteria is that the dog keep all four feet on.
I start simple – dog hops on the station, rapid treats get tossed on the station, treats stop if dog gets off. If I feed several rapid treats and the dog is still one, I will pause and say my release word, then either toss a treat off or encourage the dog to get off.
Releases are Important!
I am particular how I release the dog. Three things happen in this order: I pause, becoming still. I make eye contact with the dog. I say my release word while staying still.
When the dog is doing well and staying on through several rapid treats, I start to slow down the rate a bit. If the dog moves toward me to get the slow treat and comes off the station, I pull the treat back until the dog gets back on. If I need to, I’ll encourage the dog to get back on the station and start up with rapid treats again, moving to slow treats when the dog is doing well.
It’s helpful if your dog understands slow treats before you move to this step. The dog should understand the concept of not moving toward the treat, and should be likely to offer stillness.
In this video, I am working on introducing Kyra to the station. You can see how I start using multiple treats to keep her on the station. Kyra made more mistakes than I would have liked to see. I pushed her just a bit too hard here, so be careful not to do that with your dog.
Start to add duration slowly, and don’t add distance until your dog has a decent amount of duration. Then you can slowly start adding in other challenges, like distance and distractions.
Here’s a video of me working with Kyra on duration.
Here’s Excel working in a down.
This video shows me working on distance with Kyra.
Look – you have a station behavior! Now think of all the creative things you can use stations for! Let me know in the comments your favorite way to utilize stations!