I thought I’d give everyone a break this morning.  Watch a movie, read a book, play with your dog or bake a cake.  I watched a lovely movie about a dog who travelled 400 miles to find his owner.  I usually avoid watching dog movies as I usually end up blubbing but I couldn’t resist this one – the dog had the cutest face.  It’s called “A Dog’s Way Home” but have a box of tissues handy!  It does have a happy ending.

I did say yesterday that I’d post all the steps to get to the Chin Rest game – so here they are.

GOAL:  Your dog must place his head on a target in response to the cue “Chin” and stay there for 10 seconds while being petted.

chin rest

chin rest progressions

This behaviour is great for a number of applications.  I like to begin this exercise by teaching the dog to target a towel or small cushion.  After you have taught the dog the cue (I like “Chin”) this behaviour can be generalized to different surfaces and is useful for a number of applications.

Step 1:  Prepare the environment.  Set up a table or stool with a towel or flat cushion in front of you so the dog’s head is above the towel when the dog comes towards you.  Mark and reward the dog’s head being in position ABOVE the towel.  He doesn’t have to be touching it yet.  A high rate of reinforcement for at least 6 reps, then toss a treat away to help the dog reset.  When he approaches you again with his head above the target, start again.  Repeat this a number of times and have a break.

Step 2:  Start this session with a few reps of Step 1,  then capture any touching of the chin on the towel/target.  You will only reward touches – however brief.  At this stage, if the behaviour is consistent, you can start adding the cue.  Dog touches – “Chin” – mark and reward.

Step 3:  Start building duration.  It may take a while for the dog to learn the concept of pausing with his chin on the target, but once he does it will go very quickly.    Start with 1-second pauses.

Step 4:  Build duration from the one-second hold to 2 seconds, mark and reward; 3 seconds, mark and reward; 4 seconds, mark and reward, and so on until the dog can hold the position for five seconds.

Step 5:  Once the dog is climbing the ladder to 5 seconds, you can think of going up in bigger jumps.  5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 15 seconds.  If the dog fails at any of these steps, simply go back to 5 seconds and start building duration again.

Generalization:  Move the towel/target to various surfaces, such as your lap or someone else’s lap.  Add a touch to the head while the dog is “chinning”.  Transfer the chin target to your palm.

Remember – slow and steady wins!!!

Tortoise and hare

That’s it for today everyone.  Please send me some feedback.  I’d love to hear how you’re doing on the challenges.




  1. […] Teaching Chin Rest:  DAY FIVE and DAY 6  […]


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