The Chain Game: Working longer before getting a treat!
This is a great game for helping your dog learn to do multiple behaviors in a row for one reward! It also flexes those impulse control muscles.
You’ll need some low-value treats and some medium to high-value treats.
Step 1: Low-Value Chain
Have your low-value treats ready.
Cue your dog to perform 3 known behaviors, one at a time. Mark and treat with a low-value treat after each individual correct response. (For example: sit - treat - down - treat - spin - treat)
Release your dog after the last behavior.
Repeat at least once more with low-value treats.
Step 2: High-Value Chain
Switch to your high-value treats.
Cue your dog to perform 2 behaviors in a row.
When your dog is successful at the first behavior, praise your dog (do not mark with "yes"/"click") and then cue the next behavior. (No treat yet.)
When your dog does it, mark and treat! Then, release your dog.
Step 3: Rotate between Low-Value Chains and High-Value Chains
As your dog is successful (at least a “B” student!), you can start to increase the length of the chains. The High-Value chains should mostly be shorter. (For example: a Low-Value chain of 3 behaviors and a High-Value chain of 2 behaviors.)
You may need to adjust based on your dog’s frustration levels. We want to keep them engaged and focused, and not frustrated.
If your dog is getting frustrated, reduce the number of behaviors you require from your dog on the next repetition.
Once your dog is up to 4 or 5 behaviors in a row, start to vary how many you ask for. Throwing in some shorter chains helps keep your dog motivated.
Be creative linking the behaviors your dog enjoys into fun chain games!