Stages of Learning

Getting your dog to sit a couple of times doesn't mean he has it in his behavior bank. For him to really get it - anywhere, anytime, on cue, quickly and accurately - Fido will need to progress through the four stages of learning. Each new behavior your dog learns will progress this way, and your dog can be in different stages for different behaviors at the same time.

During the acquisition phase, we can use luring, capturing, shaping, or prompting to begin teaching Fido the behavior we'd like. Once Fido's got the basics - we move on to fluency. In this stage, we want to repeat and reinforce to build fluency. We are ready to take the behavior on the road in

stage 3 after Fido is responding with accurate behavior with only a second between cue delivery and the behavior. Most of the repetitions happen in stage 3. This is when we train in different environments and work through distractions, distance and duration. It's also a great time to have other family members practice with Fido. You will spend the most time in this stage -- so have some fun with it! After he's accurate and reliably responding in stage 3 about 90 percent of the time - he is in maintenance.