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Level 2

Training the Family Dog


FCC1 - Focus, Confidence, and Impulse Control

Beginning Level 2 Games and Cues



What is Premack?

Socialization: Noise Work

Confidence, Optimism, Calmness, Focus, Flexibility

(Socialization, Relationship)

For any Socialization experience  continue with DMT!!

Change up your socialization/confidence games at home that are listed on your socialization pages. Add new items in while your dog is searching, step back and out of the picture. Work through different variations as shown in the new Sniff It Out video.


Continue practicing past skills as well as using them in real life situations:

Collar Grabs, Airplane Game, Food Bowl Exercises, Switching High-Value Treats, Mealtime Routine

These are the foundation for good manners and might come in handy when you begin the next level of training.



Confidence, Calmness, Focus, Arousal Up/Down, Disengagement, Engagement, Impulse Control, Flexibility (Recall, Relationship)

Premack 1 Basics

Confidence, Focus, Arousal Up, Engagement, Impulse Control, Flexibility, Thinking in Arousal (Recall, Walking with Manners, Relationship)

Attention Sound

Focus, engagement, Disengagement, Proximity (Walking With Manners, Recall, Relationship)

In, Out, Wait Basics

Focus, Impulse Control, Disengagement, Independence, Flexibility, Thinking in Arousal


Room Service

Focus, Arousal Up/Down, Disengagement, Engagement, Impulse Control, Tolerance of Frustration, Thinking in Arousal

Fetch FUNdamentals Back Away Retrieve

Confidence, Focus, Arousal Up, Impulse Control, Engagement, Proximity, Thinking in Arousal

(Recall, Relationship)

Catch up on games from the first month: Movement Games, Orientation Basics and Side to Side, Running Orientation, Toy Switching


What Is Premack?


In its simplest form, a Premack cue is a release cue. For behaviors that require duration or time with focus, you need to include a release or Premack cue to let your dog know when they are done. Behaviors you use Premack with include:

  • Come
  • Movement Exercises Foundation
  • Sit, Down (possibly)
  • Wait
  • Paws On
  • Middle
  • Boundaries
  • Stay
  • Heel

But you can take things further and implement the theory behind the cue. The Premack Principal is the theory of doing the work first, and then allowing yourself to have fun. The things that are more fun, more enjoyable, more desirable are used as a reward and follow the things that are less fun, less rewarding, less desirable. You use the fun stuff as an incentive to do the not so fun stuff, because you follow the rule that the play only happens after you complete the task. For example:

  1. Do your homework first, and then you get to go outside to play.
  2. Eat your vegetables and then you can have dessert.
  3. Clean up the dishes and then you can enjoy a glass of wine and chill on the couch.
  4. Get your work done and then you can enjoy your weekend.

We can apply this same principle with our dogs. For what we want our dogs to do - sit, lie down, come, stay, heel - are not so much fun for dogs. They would rather run, chase, sniff, dig, mark (pee on a tree or post), swim, eat, play.... When you implement the Premack Principle in your dog's life, you allow the fun doggie stuff, but ony after your dog does the not so fun stuff you want your dog to do. The Premack is the cue that lets you dog know his work for you is complete and now has permission to do the fun doggie stuff.

When you utilize this principle, an amazing thing happens; the not so fun stuff isn't so bad anymre because your dog learns it leads to the fun stuff. It boosts the value of working for you because there is a fun payout in the end. It teaches your dog impulse control because your dog learns that there is work to be done first and to wait for permission to go. This is where the shift happens and your see your dog working more for you, focusing more on you, and looking to you for guidance and permission. This is especially helpful with higher value distractions. Applications of the Premack cue can look like this:

  1. You are meeting a friend and her dog at the park. Your dog is excited to see her doggie friend. As you approach, your dog turns to you (orientation), sits and looks at you waiting - waiting for permission (Premack) to say hi to her friend. Without Premack you dog could be pulling on leash, whining or barking or jumping... or any other behaviors that can cause issues.
  2. You are playing at the park and you see _________(fill in the blank - jogger, dog, cat, squirrel...). You cue your dog to Middle and your dog waits there. The distraction passes by and disappears and you release you dog and continue your play.
  3. Its a hot day and a good day for swimming. You and the family go out to the pool along with your dog. Your dog loves swimming! You want the young kids to have some swim time first. You cue your dog to a boundary while the kids swim. The kids then go to the side of the pool and sit on the steps. You then Premack your dog for permission to jump into the pool. Thanks to Premack, your dog can be in the pool area and not jump in unless given permission. That way you don't run the risk of your dog jumping in the pool and landing on top of one of the kids. For our Sheltie, her boundary was the deck above the pool where she had some roomto move about, but she had to stay up on the deck and be quiet until we gave herpermission to come down and jump in the pool.
  4. You open your back door for your dog to go outside to play and there is a squirrel out on the grass. You cue your dog to Wait. Once the squirrel starts climbing up the tree, you Premack your dog and he gets to run out and chase the squirrel feeling the satisfaction of "treeing" it.

When you implement this principle into your daily life with your dog, think of it this way, "When my dog does _______________, then I will give him permission to do ___________________." The first blank is behaviors for you, like a sit, down, look, orient to you, walk nicely on leash, remain close to you, Come to you, go into Middle, go to a boundary.... The second blank is what your dog loves to do, like go outside to play, say hi to a friend or dog, have a treat toy or meal, dig or sniff, have freedom, be off leash, jump in the pool, get to play ball... If you want to get to that next level of impulse-control with your dog, here is your key to success.

SOCIALIZATION (Throughout Training)

Noise Work: Beginning Steps (Non-Triggers)


It is important to get your puppy used to all the noises in his world. So, take some recordings of common sounds and play them (super low volume at first) during a calm time - while your puppy works on something yummy like a Kong or bully stick. Help to desensitize and buildpositive associations with the sounds in your specific environment.

Record sounds in your neighborhood, or you can use general sound soff of YouTube.

Pair these sounds with DMT, calming protocol, passive calming activities, massage, focus games (working foundation cues), confidence sniffing games, and other wonderful things.

This is an easy step for audio-socialization and sound desensitization. Work noises and teach "no reaction is a good reaction." This is good preparation for when your pup's core vaccinations are complete and the world now opens up to more opportunities.

You will also want to use this technique for practicing with thunder and fireworks sounds BEFORE they become a "trigger" for fear, anxiety or worry.

Theresa has adopted this strategy with her puppies while they are at the kennel, and it needs to continue.

My major in college was Music Therapy. It works for animals just like it does for people. Here is a link to the Through a Dog's Ear which is music therapy for dogs that was started in shelters to reduce stress... There are also apps you can get, and apps that work with Alexa and Google Assistant.

This game is also on the socialization page.




Middle is a cue that encourages being close to you. That value in proximity is a necessity for a numerous situations and cues. A dog that wants to be near you, doesn't pull on leash, doesn't venture far, comes when called, and is under control on and off-leash.

This cue is super fun! It's a game in itself. It encourages super great stuff too!

  • Proximity (your dog is close to you)
  • Relationship (you are a team, you are safe and trustworthy)
  • Control (ability to hold dog)
  • Impulse Control - (requires a release - with more games with Middle to focus on this!)
  • Confidence (safe place to be)
  • Arousal lowering (calming)
  • Arousal raising (“Ready……!” - yes, it can do both)
  • Portable boundary
  • Dealing with distractions (focus is on you)
  • Even an emergency recall
  • And so much more! Plus it just looks cool!

This is a great cue to incorporate into play, especially higher arousal play once your dog knows the cue. It's more fun than foundations cues, plus you can also practice Premack (Middle must have a release) for ultimate practice inusing play for rewards and working your dog in "higher arousal, but still in control." This will be the next step with Middle, so work on the foundation of the cue until your pup is reliable with the cue, and thenwe will take it to the next level.

Premack 1 Basics


This cue, and the amazing games you play to teach it, is the ultimate teaching tool for impulse control. It can also harness what are currently "distractions" into awesome rewards. You are going to build and build (and build) on this over the course of your training with your puppy beginning in month 2, but really getting to the nitty-gritty of it and the impulse-control it teaches in month 3 and beyond.

How do you get your dog to listen to you so well, even when super excited? To not chase deer or squirrels, or go after something unless you say he/she can? How do you get your dog to listen and follow cues when outsideand engaged in fun activities? How to you prevent your dog from taking off and helping himself to fun activities when out on walks or at the park? To have great focus? Premack.

Foundations in impulse control start here, with Premack games. To begin teaching Premack, choose one release cue to start. You will work with very simple scenarios to begin building a little impulse control.

Pair this with Boundary Training for a super-charged education program for ultimate control,great off-switch, and amazing strategy for so many things "Dog."

Attention Sound


It is important to be able to get your dog's attention, without necessarily using his name. With a little puppy in the house, you will need to redirect your puppy's attention often, but in a positive way so that you get your puppy engaged in an appropriate activity and so that your puppy knows that your are kind, trust worthy and know where the fun is and that it will continue (but not necessarily in the way your puppy was intending).

Puppy's will explore many things, some things that we want them to leave alone. So, by having an Attention Sound that your puppy will hear easily and respond to (stopping what they are doing and looking at you), you then have the opportunity to redirect your puppy on to something that is appropriate.

As your puppy grows, and you continue to practice the Attention Sound, this may just be a circumstance that you remind your dog you are still there and you just want him checking in with you, so you do your attention sound, but then you will release your dog back to what he was doing. Check-ins are important for off-leash activities!

You have "puppy puppy" or "pup pup" in your tool box, which is an attention cue and a loose form of recall. Now it is time to add sounds to the tool box:

  • a whistle
  • click of the tongue
  • kissing sounds
  • squeak of a toy - And you can save squeakers just for this purpose.

Sounds can reach the brain and register faster than words. So add sounds to your mix of attention getters.

In, Out and Wait Basics


The first step in training thresholds, these two cues allow you to easily send a dog in and out of an area. This is also great for a game with crates and ex-pens, putting good positive associations with going in and out of these boundaries. This can also be a room, kitchen, car, etc. It also teaches the concept of a threshold and not crossing it unless permitted. This also is the preliminary stage to teaching the cue "Wait."

Using these cues gives you flexibility

  1. You have control of the threshold and can manage behavior through that area
  2. Provides more structure than general release cue, or lower arousal than a Premack cue (unless you've trained a calm Premack cue)
  3. You can play the "In" and "Out" game with thresholds so that they don't become a place for problem behavior down the road (dog not wanting to go in the crate or ex-pen, or a dog charging out the door or not wanting to come inside from outside play).

This gives you another alternative for situations like this so you do not use your "Come" cue and possibly lose reliability with that cue because, in your dogs eyes, it is punishment. There will be certain times or places where you want your dog to be out of the area, and remain out, until you allow your dog freedom to go back in. Sometimes this might be because you have a room that is off-limits to your dog. Other times it might be for when you are cooking, or sitting at the dining room table eating. For whatever reason, the "Out" cue and "Wait" cue can come in very handy. Plus, this is the basics of teaching wait, under low arousal circumstances, setting the foundation and a stepping stone for scenarios in the future that have more desire, more excitement, and therefore require more impulse control.

**SPECIAL NOTE: In the video for the kitchen scenario, you will notice that I don't use the "Wait" cue. This is optional - you can just capture and reward your dog for good behavioral choices on the other side of the line, or you can cue the Wait. Remember that if you cue Wait (this is a duration cue), you MUST use a release cue when done, so you have got to be on top of that. If you don't cue a wait, then you don't have to release.


Room Service


This game is huge! A must play with your puppy!

Teaches the importance of eye-contact. Patience (on both the dog and you). Optimism at its best. The value of looking to you first.

If your pup paws at your hand, which can hurt, consider using a clear plastic container to cover the food. Or you can remove you hand and put it behind your back when you can no longer tolerate the scratching - ouch!

Play this game often in different places and with different foods. You can even play this game with other items and you reward the backup and eye-contact with a tasty tidbit that is appropriate.

Evolution of behaviors your can work with this game...

  • Move head away
  • Staying back away from the food
  • Turning head away from food
  • Looking at you, not the food
  • Backing farther away and looking at you.

The choice is yours on what behaviors you want. You must capture - this has to be a decision that your dog makes. If you cue, you are putting controls on your dog. True impulse-control has to come from the individual!

See if, once your dog has mastered the level in this video, you can create other challenges that teach and support to concept of "ignore it unless I give permission" either because you give the food to your dog or because you use your Premack.

Remember that this game does not use a cue. Yet, it teaches the prerequisite behavior for "Leave It." The purpose of this game is to teach impulse control with things your dog wants - so that your dog does not just help herself, but waits until you give permission. 

This does not necessarily have to be food - it's about anything you dog may desire! It can be things in the environment - some things might be fine once given permission, like jumping into the pool or lake. Others may not be okay (like animal poop, pinecones, etc.) that you don't want your pup to pick up. In some cases, the reward won't be the item, but something more appropriate, like a high value treat or toy.

Fetch FUNdamentals Back Away Retrieve Game


This game builds the fun in driving back to you and reengaging with you and the toy. It is part of the basic retrieve behavior and also supports the "play with me and my toy" concept that is so important for your relationship.

This is an engage with me game. The application goes further than just fetch. This game helps your dog choose you over things in the environment. This game builds grit in seeking interaction with you and focus on you. This is one of my favorite games for on the road in distracting places to keep my dog's focus on me and not things in the environment!

This game really drives home the desire in your dog to want to bring you the toy, without sucking the fun out of the retrieve behavior because the end result is not the dog losing the toy. You do not take the toy away - you re-engage in fun. The perspective from the dog's point of view is that they have control, and therefore, they win - and winning is fun! Play needs to feel like this to your dog so that he/she will want to continue to play with you and have it be very rewarding. Down the road, this will be a lifesaver when you will have to work through more distracting and higher arousal situations. I am preparing you both for the future!