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Level 2

Training the Family Dog



Level 2 Games and Cues



Level 2 Game List

Setting the Stage


Training is 24/7

Adopt your games and cues into every day life.

Capture good behaviors in the contexts in which they happen. Cue the behaviors you want when you need to in order to establish clear expectations.


Continue reinforcing good choices made by your puppy and practicing past skills, as well as using them in real-life situations:

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

Start adding cues from this level into your daily events to estaslish particular expectations and teach your dog his job for various situations. A job can be fancy or simple, doing something or not doing something.


Toy Switching Hierarchy

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


Fetch FUNdamentals Outside

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


Chaser Toy

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



Setting the Stage

Your relationship is the key component to your dog's overall behavior and how responsive your dog is to you. Relationship is where it all starts.

By now you have had time to get to know your puppy better; personality, what he/she likes, loves, wants, needs... building trust and working to deposit into the relationship bank account, minimizing withdrawals. The training is coming along, and both of you are building a great working relationship and becoming a team.

Continue Influencing and Rewarding Good Decisions!

Your relationship influences your dog's decision making, so get involved and be present. Your dog is still in the beginning stages of training, and lessons are still needing to continue to mold and shape your puppy’s brain - it hasn’t all sunk in and it is not permenent - not yet! Influence the choices you want your dog to make by focusing on what you want, rewarding what you want, and make those choices more valuable than any other. Use cues when necessary to set precedence for expectations and make clear and consistent rules. Think for the future - what might be okay for a puppy, won’t be for a 70 adult dog!


Take what you and your puppy have learned so far and implement the games and cues around your home - inside, outside, through thresholds, backyard, front yard, close to home, then out and about. Certain gamesare perfect for real-life situations at home and you can start now to build the concepts for things in your daily life. Other situations, like “walks” are the test. Practice and rehearsal of good behaviors and choices have to come first before taking the test. Then based on how that test went, you will have a good idea of what your dog still needs to work on. This is real-life training - 24/7 - and when you have your dog do specific things to earn the things he wants and needs in life, you not only get a dog that listens to you better but a dog that is practicing proper behavior every day. This is your key to a well-mannered adult dog. Nothing in life is free!

Use your cues and play your games and consider every opportunity as a training opportunity, whether that is on a walk, during play inside and outside, or when you have work to get done and calmness needs to happen. Set the stage now and train it, so that your pup will have it as an adult.

Create a Reinforcement Rich Life with your dog. Don't be stingy with your rewards or your dog could begin to look elsewhere for better reinforcement. Until the training has sunk in and your dog is an adult, things can change, so stay on it! Your dog will not work for free, nor will he want to do something just to simply please you. It's about a paycheck! Be kind and generous, but don't give things out for free. You have a variety of options now for reinforcement, use them and enjoy the time you spend together. Pay well for a job well done so you have TONS of value and are the gateway to all things wonderful. Your dog will love you for it!

Level 2 Accomplishments

You have now done the basics and set the stage for a great foundation in basic manners. Include these games and cues (to become default behaviors, too) in your daily events. Practice makes permanent! The attachment has all the game categorized to help you with the "when and what" on how to use the games and links to the videos for your convenience.

Cues So Far:

  • Name Recognition
  • Sit
  • Attention Cue (Pup Pup Recall)
  • Attention Sound
  • Touch
  • Look
  • Down
  • Drop/Trade
  • Come
  • Premack (Release Cue)
  • Middle
  • In, Out, Wait Basics
  • Finish/Front/Side
  • Leave It
  • Wait

Games So Far:

  • Movement Games (Walk N' Drop, Follow Me and Speed It Up, Slow It Down - all inside and outside, on and off leash)
  • Pick Me Game (inside and outside)
  • Orientation Games (Basic, Side to Side, On Leash, Walking, Outside)
  • Running Orientation (inside and outside)
  • Toy Switching (Beginnings, Building Blocks/Hierarchy)
  • Fetch Fundamental Games (Chase & Switch/Get It! Game/Retrieve Drive/Orientation for Fetch/Get It Chase Me!/ Outside)
  • Chaser Toy/Whip/Flirt Pole
  • Paws On*
  • Muzzle Game*
  • Noise Box*
  • Sniff It Out Games*
  • Boundary Games* (Release the Beast, Invest in the Release, Growing Calmness, Building Value)
  • Airplane Game*
  • Puppy Push-Ups
  • Middle Positions
  • Proximity Zone (inside and outside, on and off leash)
  • Recall Games (Come and Go, Play Cue Play, Out of Sight, Puppy Ping Pong/Round Robin, Hide and Seek, Restrained Recall)
  • Reward Nothing*
  • Calming Touch*
  • Arousal Up, Arousal Down (Life-style game strategy for working different arousal levels)
  • Harness Shaping Game
  • Parking*

*Good transition games to lower arousal

Skills So Far:

  • Following A Lure
  • Leash Work
  • Passive Calming Activities
  • Calmness Protocol
  • Movement Exercises Foundation (inside and outside, on and off leash)
  • WWM LLW - Walking with Manners Loose Leash Walking (Lure, Treat Trail, Stop and Go, Reverse)
  • Food Bowl Exercises
  • High-Value Treat Switching
  • Socialization and DMT

As you continue your training program, these cues and games combined together in daily engagements, carry you through the path towards a well-mannered family dog. This is the foundation for all the basics inside and outside. Make your concept games part of every activity you do with your dog. It is not just training, it is how you play with your dog andhow you teach and maintain great automatic behavior in general.

Once you have great default behaviors, it will be time to continue forward with training and teach your dog how to handle actual distractions - new things that enter the picture that have real value to your dog. Things that move and are much more difficult to ignore. Things that your dog sees as fascinating and rewarding, not just something that catches your dog's attention. That is what is covered in Level 3!

Focus, impulse control, working through energy, and growing calmness will be vital concepts to continue to work on and it will soon be time to expand to new games. You and your pup will learn more cues and more games in month three to teach your pup how to handle that next level of life... the real world. Wait... there's more?! Yup! Adolescence comes with its own set of challenges. Time to get yourself prepared and have more strategies to guide you and your dog through the next stage of development and beyond. The next set of cues and games are set up to give you real-life training - real-life fun-for the life of your dog!

Choosing a Training Sequence

  1. Start with calmness - whether that be your dog resting in the pen or crate or you instigate it with a game. Great starting calmness games are Boundary, Reward Nothing (my top 2), Paws On, a few Touches, or even a simple sit or down with some duration. Figure about 2-5 minutes depending on your dogs ability, the situation, and the dog in fornt of you. Be ready to change things up a bit if you see the need or your dog is struggling.
  2. Pick three (this can vary depending on the dog and the time you have) games that address what some of your goals and the concepts that are needed. Choose some that include arousal up, and others that include arousal down, so you dog is continuing to practice the up and down or energy and calmness. About 3 minutes per game is a good start, and then change things up as needed.
  3. Play - choose a game or activity that you know you dog just loves. Play fetch, tug, chase, swim, sniff… Go for an outing or walk if appropriate. Free choice can also happen at this time as long as the choices are appropriate ones.
  4. Transition games are next to manipulate the arousal levels back down again. The number of games here will vary depending on your dog’s ability to calm down. Some need more help than others. This is your “cool down” and to help your dog get into a good level of calmness.
  5. Finish back on a boundary and bring your dog into an area in the Calmness Triad back in the crate, ex-pen or boundary. Freedom must be earned and a calm dog will make better choices. Dogs that don’t settle or continue to make naughty choices can’t have that freedom. So in down time, use you best judgement if letting your puppy or young dog be free to make any choice in an entire room. Supervision is still key.

Mix up your games and utilize variety to maintain the fun and keep the momentum going. Keep your dog guessing by changing it up and being unpredictable so you are the most interesting thing in the environment.


Toy Switching Hierarchy


The next level in play - teaching your pup that no matter the toy, playing with you and your toy is the best choice.

Dogs will have their favorites. You will see over time which toys your pup chooses more often or has a harder time letting go. This game begins to work your pup through the hierarchy of toys and to create the desire in the toy you are playing with, so the value of you, and play with you, is more important than the value of a toy.

Thisbuilds some impulse-control without having to put too much control on the game. It is important that your pup is respectful and still listens, even when excited. He/she must also be careful - BITE-INHIBITION is still a work in progress here. Create opportunity to continue to teach it. How you hold the toy, horizontal (easier for your dog to grab) or vertical, and how much of the toy is exposed teaches a dog to be accurate with grabbing the toy. If your dog gets your hand when grabbing the toy, or if your dog regrips and works his/her way up the toy closer to your hand, stop the game. Use your bite-inhibition technique and pause for a while. Put the toy away and play an arousal down game, before you try to resume toy switching. You can also end the game and stop all together if your dog is not being respectful or calming down.

Use this game to work arousal levels. Typically this is an arousal up game, but arousal levels can vary depending on how long you let your dog tug before switching (start with about 10 seconds and work from there) and how you play, including your energy level and how you tug on the toy. Work through different arousal levels with your dog, bringing your pup "up" with tugging but not too far up, and then "down" through switching and pausing. Keep it fun, but teach self-control for your pup. When you end the game, transition into an arousal down game like Reward Nothing, Calming Touch, or Boundary Games.

Fetch FUNdamentals Outside


Time to begin graduating from fetch inside to fetch outside.

Take your Fetch Fundamental games outside to build focus, value and reliability with the behaviors in a more distracting environment. This also boosts your relationship and puts your pup's energy into the team instead of the individual, which is crucial for your relationship. Build fun and drive in play - play with you!

Do this with gradual introduction so that you maintain the fun and value in playing with you. Distractions outside compete with you for your puppy's attention. There are ways to give yourself a better start for reliability down the road.

This video gives you tips on how to introduce the games outside so that play outside that involves you is super fun. Your value outside is very important! You want your dog thinking that outside play time involves you! This helps to have your dog be a good listener where it matters - outside!

Remember Your Games:

(played with multiple toys and/or one toy - depends on where your dog it at in the moment)

  • Chase and Switch
  • Get It!
  • Back Away Retrieve
  • Side to Side with Fetch
  • Get It! Chase Me!
  • And Toy Switching (tug toys are great toys for outside, too)

Chaser Toy/Whip/Flirt Pole


If your puppy loves chasing, using a chaser toy, also known as a whip or flirt pole, can be a game you can play to work through some physical energy and practice good manners and cues.

First things first - you must have good drive with chasing the toy. Don’t put all sorts of controls on the game too soon or you will suck the fun out of it.

Once you have good chase drive, work though some good manners:

  • Drop: utilize a trade with a reward for letting go of the toy. If your puppy does not let go of the toy, stand on the cord and work your way closer to the toy. Wait for your dog to let go on her own.
  • Add in Premack - Get it! to start the game.
  • Add in sit and down cues before cueing the Premack.