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Stages of Learning

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

So you have been working with your pup and she can finally sit! Yay! The feeling of success for this key behavior feels great. I wish the work stopped here, but we have more work to do to have this sit stick.

Getting your dog to sit a couple of times doesn't mean we can check it off the list just yet. To really get it - anywhere, anytime, on cue, quickly and accurately - we'll 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 the behavior we'd like. Once we've 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 our dog 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. You will spend the most time in this stage -- so have some fun with it! After accurate and reliable responding in stage 3 about 90 percent of the time - he is in maintenance.

During stages 1, 2, and 3, we like to reinforce every time we ask for the behavior.

There are some cues you will give that we recommend reinforcing every, yes every, time you give it, even if you are in maintenance. The important one is your recall cue. For other cues, you can reinforce intermittently, but remember - reinforcement is what will keep the behavior strong. If you stop reinforcing altogether, you will see the reliability and frequency of the behavior drop like a lead balloon. Maybe not that dramatic - but it will certainly fall off a cliff. Yes, we are being corny, at least we can make ourselves laugh :)

If you are interested to learn more, give us a call or check out the links below:

Bye for now -

This is a picture of Chewie, Chief Wiggle Butt
Chief Wiggle Butt

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