Week 4–Adding High Five and Backing Up

How is everyone doing at home. I’d sure like to hear if you have tried anything from this site. My dogs are enjoying the extra training time and I have had to up their food as my husband is more available to take them for runs. Let me know if your dog is learning 4 feet in a box and two feet on a plate.

Four feet and a box and two feet on a plate were over the last couple of weeks and now we need to get some Mark>REWARD for back feet. The video below shows a nice way to start where you can build a little alley in your house for the dog to go back and forth. A lot of times we start the dog backing up by walking into them and Marking when they shift back. This alley lets you start naming the “back” when the dog does it naturally. Also your dog will think it is really fun.

Once this is going really well then the next step is to back away from body pressure. This video shows all the steps you will need to take.

Another nice trick to add now is “high five” and “beg” with the two feet on a plate behavior. You simply start to lift the plate higher and higher and reward for hitting it with one or two feet.

Finally here is a nice story about Jay Sisler who bought 300 acres from the proceeds of his dog trick rodeo act.




Lesson 3: Two feet on a plate

Now that everyone has Mark>REWARD and Four Feet in a Box going it is time to introduce  a new trick.


Four Feet in a Box teaches your dog that all 4 feet matter. As I progress to smaller and smaller boxes I like to Mark when the back feet go in the box. Keep working on this so you can creatively mix up your dog’s training. You can even build a little duration into 4 feet in a box by rewarding for duration for staying in the box.

Something New:

Two Feet on a Plate

You will need 2-3 dinner plate sized objects. Old phone books, or magazines work great for this step. I even take my feed buckets and flip them upside down for this step.


Put out 2-3 plates about 3 feet apart. Start to Mark>REWARD for your dog interacting with the plate. They may try to put all 4 feet on it so make sure you Mark just the front feet. REWARD by tossing the treat away from you and the plate. Have this be really fun with your dog moving from plate to plate. I had a Jack Russell student years ago that would pounce on the plate and slide it across the floor. This is a faster activity than the box because in later lessons we will be rewarding the dogs for moving their hind feet around the plate. Use different “plates”. Some can move like a pot lid and also make sounds.

Here is an old video of my sweet pup Prim working on 2 Feet on a Plate.

This is former herding student Emma, a corgi mix, reviewing 4 feet and two feet on a plate.



Week One Homework


Welcome to Ranch Dog Manners. I started this site in 2016 to give a basic agility or obedience foundation to my incoming herding students. It is based on 15 years of homework assignments for Gallatin County 4H Agility which I started in 1998. All of these homework can be done inside or a small backyard. After 5 weeks of assignments expect a simple virtual test where a parent can be the “tester”.

Mark—>Reward    Two easy words, but what does it mean?

Before starting a new training adventure it is important to know what your dog loves. My dogs, Rey and Finn, love sheep first, and then if there are no sheep, toys and cheap hotdogs. They do not like their dog food or loud noises.

For indoor training I like to use the cheap hotdogs.

Before starting I cut them into about 50 pieces. They will be used as the REWARD.

I like to MARK with a “CLUCK” sound I make with my tongue. I also use the word “YES” or if I can find it a “CLICKER”.

So what do I MARK?

Once my REWARDS are ready I call the dog over. Cluck and give them one REWARD.  Maybe the dog looks at me…. Cluck REWARD

Oh oh now the dog is staring at the food! No Cluck no REWARD.

Aaah now the dog looks at me… Cluck REWARD

Now remember you have  50 pieces of food for your dog and being generous rather than stingy will get you results the fastest. Once the food runs out do a little playing with your dogs favorite toy and end the session.

Work on getting good at Marking and Rewarding behavior for one week and then we will add some specific tricks to build a great agility, obedience or herding foundation.

The video features Rey (on the coach) and Finn (happily working).

Lesson 2–4 feet in a box–standing

Good Morning!

We’ve been isolating for a week now and it is time to introduce a specific new behavior using our 50 treats.

If your dog is really motivated by food they might be staring at the food. Do not mark and reward this behavior. Instead mark behaviors where they look away from the food. Also many of my 4H kids over the years were scared of getting nipped when giving their dogs treats. Do not release the food if your dog is being rude. You should only feel lips or tongue.

Where are my 4 feet?

Find a box that is at least as long as your dog’s back. Using Mark–>REWARD ask your dog to stand in the box. It is important at this stage to Mark–>REWARD the smallest thing. So once your dog offers to do anything with the box ( head over, one foot, two feet, etc) Mark–>REWARD, use your fifty treats and don’t be stingy.

After your session engage in a little fun play.  Experiment with different positions as well. Most dogs will love standing and looking at you, but see if you can reward in heel position as well.

The first video is Finn getting into a scary wire basket.

Finn’s first boxes/buckets

Here is my niece’s rescue cocker reviewing two assignments from her online class she took last winter. Lady is a rescue and a year ago she had to learn Mark–>REWARD which took a while and then she was very slow and careful. In her quick review one year later she is so much different.

Rey Introduction to 4 in a box and 2 in a plate.

Young Nero 4 feet in a box

I love seeing dog tricks that make it to the big screen. Here is an amazing one from Great Britian: