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How to Use CPR to Train Your Dog

C – P – R: CUE, PRAISE, REWARD.

Start in a quiet place where you dog has no distractions and when his motivation is high, like after a walk but before feeding times.

Try to make your timing consistent:

Say the cue,

if it takes 5 seconds for your dog to perform the behavior,

praise as soon as he does,

but wait 5 seconds to reward.

Now your dog wants to respond to your cues faster because he wants to earn the reward faster.

CPR works best with lure-reward based training.

This means you will have a food treat in your fingertips that creates a magical, invisible string that will allow you to “pull” your dog anywhere you want him to go.

We would never want to actually physically push or pull our dog to do something because they aren’t really learning anything when we do this.  Putting your hands on an animal is a privilege, not a right! Even when it is your dog.

With lure-reward training it is vital to get the food out of your fingertips as soon as your dog can respond without it.  This means you can still use your hand to help signal what you are looking for, but don’t get your dog used to you always having food in your hands because then your cues won’t work when the food isn’t there.

Cue

When training a brand new behavior, we want to leave off the C, or cue, at first, until we are sure we can get our dog to perform the task we are looking for.  We want to add the cue when we are certain we can get the behavior.  The cue can be any word you choose to define a behavior.  It can be a word that describes the actual behavior, or a word that means something to you.  For example, if we are training the behavior of our dog lowering his rump to the ground, we very often choose the word “sit” to be our cue, because this defines the act we are seeing.  If you are training your dog to come when called you may choose a word like “here” because this won’t be repeated in your dog’s daily life when he is not expected to come over.  Whereas “here” can remain a high value cue because your dog will only hear this cue when he is expected to come over.

Praise

Your praise is so important, so don’t skip the praise!  If your dog does what you are asking, you have to let her know she got it right!  If it took her a long time to respond to your cue, you can alway delay your reward, or even keep your praise low level.  It is good to control your praise so that it suits your training.  You can have two different kinds of praise: red light praise and green light praise.  Red light praise is when you praise your dog calmly and in a soft tone.  Red light praise is great to use during a stay cue so you don’t get your dog so excited that she breaks her stay because of your praise.  Green light praise is very happy excitable praise, usually in a high pitch, friendly voice.  Green light praise is great for your recall, or coming when called, because this praise usually gets your dog excited and if you have been doing your C P R correctly, she even should be expecting a reward after such green light praise.  This will keep her coming to you the entire way, even if she encounters some distractions like squirrels or other dogs.  If she hears your excitable praise and she knows what comes next, she will make sure she gets all the way back to you-and in a hurry!  You can also praise more calmly if you waited a longer time for the behavior.  If you ask your dog to sit and it takes her 10 seconds to sit, you still should praise as soon as her rump hits the floor but you can praise calmly as you might want your dog to respond faster than that.  You always want to mark the moment your dog does what you are asking with praise, regardless of how long it takes her to respond.  Your praise is the “click” in clicker training, so if you are using a clicker for C P R, you will click as you P or Praise.

Reward

The reward always comes at the end, that way it is the easiest thing to fade out of the equation, especially if it is food.  It is a good idea to figure out things your dog sees as real life rewards.  There are definitely things your dog looks forward to, and there is no reason not to use these things as part of your training.  Any higher ground is a reward; being on the couch, in bed or even in your arms are all examples of higher ground.  I will never say your dog can’t sleep in your bed, but I will say it is a privilege that he should lose if he misbehaves.  The best news is, you never need to stay mad at your dog!  Once he has moved on, so should you!  So if your dog is in bed, and he barks at you, then have him get out of bed.  If he sits quietly once he is out of bed, then you can allow him the reward of getting back into bed.  When practicing in training sessions you can count how long it takes for your dog to respond to the cue, and then you can reward your dog the same amount of time after your praise.  So if it takes your dog 10 seconds to sit, it can take you 10 seconds to deliver him the reward.  It is a good idea to make a list of real life things your dog sees as a rewards.  Below are a few examples, but feel free to add a few that are specifically for your dog:

  1. Going for a walk
  2. Belly Rubs
  3. Lowering the food bowl
  4. _______________
  5. _______________

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