Teaching Go-outs: Bribing or Rewarding?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

Written by Connie Cleveland-Nolan

Go-outs look simple, especially if you start by putting food or an object on the stanchion to draw your dog’s attention to the location. You may think that you have successfully taught your dog the exercise by using food, a toy or other object to bribe him to the go-out location. However, diminishing or eliminating the bribe can be complicated. A more efficient way to teach the exercise is to teach your dog to “move away from the treat to earn the reward.” 

In the Digital Obedience Guide, Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises, one of the tricks I introduce is teaching the dog to spin. This involves using food as a lure. Other tricks, such as teaching a dog to circle a cone, lie down on a signal, and go-out requires a dog to understand the concept of “moving away from the treat to earn a reward.”

By using a lure to bribe your dog to run out to the stanchion for a treat, your hope is that your dog is (1) learning where to go when sent (after all, the treat is always on the stanchion or at the end of the ring) and (2) learning to run straight (after all, the treat is always straight ahead). In fact, some dogs do extrapolate that information when bribed to the center stanchion where the food is usually located. However, many dogs are simply “chasing food,” and not giving any thought to where the food is and how they found it. Absent the bribe, these dog have problems doing a go-out in different locations or situations. They often fail to go-out altogether, stop short or go crooked. 

 I want you to have confidence that you can walk in to any ring, anywhere, and believe that your dog is going to look out between the jumps and KNOW where he is going when you give him the go-out command. In order for that to occur, your dog must understand the correct path to take. He must understand that he needs to run out straight between the jumps to the end of the ring.

The following video [Teaching Go-Outs] demonstrates the steps I use to teach my dogs how to find the correct path to the location of go-out. You will notice that a bribe is not necessary when you utilize tricks he already knows. From the outset, your dog can learn to move away from the treat to earn the reward. 

View Video Demo Here!

Steps for Teaching the Go-Out Exercise

In summary, the steps for teaching your dog to go-out using this method are: 

1. Teach your dog to stand on a box (as demonstrated in the Digital Obedience Guide: Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises).

2. Place the box at the location of go-out between white guides (broad jump boards on their side will work).

3. Send your dog to “stand” on the box during the first few sessions. Go to your dog while is in standing on the box and reward him at the stanchion. You can reinforce the fact that he found the correct go-out location by having your dog touch the gate with his nose or foot, in either in a standing or sitting position. Do not ask for a sit just yet, but don’t stop him at this point, if he offers it.

4. Remove the box, and continue sending your dog to the location of the go-out. Reward him at the gate. THIS IS IMPORTANT! You do not want your dog to think he is going to the box, but instead, he is running out between the guides to the gate.

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