Curb the Urge:
Your dog may already know these - and if so, great! But if you have never taught your dog how to hand touch, we are going to do that now.
Get out some treats and do a few repetitions of some fun tricks or well-known behaviors. Reward after every completed cue. Then, offer your open hand to your dog, palm facing them (this picture should look very different from your OLMEC food steps). You can use moving back away from your dog to sort of draw them in if you wish. As soon as your dog touches their nose to your hand (even if it’s very light!), mark and reward preferably in the SAME hand that your dog just touched.
If your dog is struggling to touch your hand in the first place, reward small increments of that behavior. If they are still having trouble, you can place a piece of food in your hand in between your middle and index finger and have them take food that way.
OLMEC Step 2 with Food and Toy, Last Steps
The video example is with a toy, but you can do the same for food. This will conclude Step 2 in our OLMEC system for both food AND toy.
Take your exercises somewhere new, and up the value of the food and toy being used. Don’t use a flirt pole JUST YET! We are saving that for other exercises later on. Add more behaviors/movement before rewarding with food or toy from on your person, and try with no leash (wherever safe to do so). Just remember that if they go for the food/toy, don’t stress! Use that as good information as to how hard you can push it, and adjust your plan as necessary to make everything as successful as possible.
Mat Work - Adding Difficulty!
At this point, your dog should be driving for the mat and laying down. You can start adding a cue if you wish (“go to mat,” “go to place,” “go to bed,” etc...). In addition, start adding some distance so you can send them to their mat from further away and also distance that you can get away while they are on their mat, duration on the mat itself (you can reward intermittently on the mat itself throughout), and distractions. I’m lucky in that I have some great dog distractions living with me! They all LOVE to work and get very animated when they do so.
In this video, I have Jari doing some tricks while Kimma is staying calmly on her mat.
To complement the above, now I have Jari in a stay while I release Kimma off of her mat and send her back.
There are so many fun options… Get creative with this mat stay proofing!
Practice your hand touches anywhere you can! Try at least two places that are not in your home.
Complete OLMEC Step 2 with toy AND food! Get in at least 2 sessions this week.
Add difficulty to your mat work! You still want to try to practice daily.