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general advice – levels of criteria

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    been up all night nursing a sickly pup – bored and losing at scrabble so thought i would bore you lot with some general advice ;D.

    many of the recent posts have been about dogs losing/failing/not knowing cues when out and about so here goes on criteria and why it is important to introduce cues at the lowest possible criteria for the dog.

    and just to make you work harder we going to do it backwards ;D

    criteria 5:
    outside, lots of smells, lots of diversions, other dogs, switched off carers out for a nice walk (but it is the dogs time ;)) lots of resources, you, the kids, the goodies in the pocket, the ball, the frisbee.

    criteria 4:
    the training club:
    other dogs, excitement, stress, carers chatting to other humans, carers fussing other dogs, expected to do behaviours in a ring, up and down, lots of smells, resources like training toys, treats – own and other dogs and stuff going on around.

    criteria 3
    neighbours/friends/other family homes/gardens:
    known smells but new today, noise, chatting, kiddies, other dog’s resources, food, toys and ‘i thought we going for a walk mum – bored now’

    criteria 2
    the garden:
    ‘ok this is my space, i get let out here when you don’t want me in, i pee and poo here and there might have been a visitor in the night – got to go check it out’

    criteria 1
    indoors in the home:
    ‘pretty boring here – ok what we gonna do then?’

    so – what does this tell us?

    all training of cues, modifying behaviours etc should start at criteria 1 because this is where you have the dog’s attention the most and therefor the highest possibility of getting the cue fixed. then it should be taken to criteria 2, then 3 and  then 4 where if you get it reliable then you can test it at criteria 5.

    when it is fluent in any criteria then go up a criteria, if it fails there then go back down a criteria – when it is fluent and reliable without hesitation at the highest criteria – then and only then can you say the dog is fully cued, ie trained, in that behaviour.

    if you try to train a new cue at criteria 5 (and also many behaviours at criteria 4, 3, and 2) you are going to have extinction bursts from the word go – it is just too much for the dog to take in whilst all that other stuff is happening. If you have taught the cue at criteria 1, then tested it at criteria 2 and it works and so on and so forth and you then get a failure at the next highest criteria, by backing down a criteria you have not lost the cue, just not got through to the dog yet that it has to happen anywhere.

    and once it is fluent and reliable – it will still need periodic re-enforcement; see in cheddar’s post where lizzie does exactly the right thing in re-enforcing the stop – because if you don’t and you get an extinction then you will have to go right back to criteria levels 1 and 2 cos a complacent carer means the little darlings will take the chance to outwit us ;);D


    Thanks for that Bev, very informative  🙂


    Great info ;D

    I rushed to much to criteria 5, so will go back and start at criteria 1 again.


    ;D good idea ;D


    Thanks Bev.



    ooh 1000 posts 🙂

    how did it all go . . .


    hi claire – i have had some real encouraging positive feed back about this post – not just on here but private emails – so this is the way to go is it folks?  me thinks the light at the end of the tunnel is shining! xx


    Hi 🙂

    Thats good – turns out I knew generally this idea – just not that it was called criteria 🙂

    I certainly think its a better way to train lead walking than the stop-turn-go method 😉

    Claire x


    thanks hun – if anyone wants ‘locate’ to use along side the leash walking then it can be emailed x


    thats very interesting i have only skimmed it as i have tons to do but will read it properly later thanks!!


    Hi Kiz,

    We’re in desparate needs to follow the levels of criteria. But we can’t understand what we’re suppose to do for Criteria 1? Can you please eleborate?



    hey, not kiz,

    but crit 1 is just at home in the front room / or a room dog spends most time in and is familiar with all the smells and suroundings so wont be too distracted. you start the training here, then when the dog is doing what you asking say sit, 80/90 % on command, you move to the next level, which may be the garden, as dog is familiar but sometimes new smells, distractions with birds bugs noises etc,

    hope this helps

    and hello and welcome – start an intro post and tell us about your dogs  🙂

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