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  • Writer's pictureLiz MacHaffie

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!

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