Our TOP Exercise for Dogs: Ready, Steady, Go!

When heading out into the world alongside your dog, what is your biggest challenge? Is it getting your dog’s attention and focus? Or perhaps it’s that your dog finds the world a scary place to be… maybe other dogs or people cause them concern?

If you can’t get your dog to come back to you off the lead or you find it hard to support your dog when they see things that trigger reactive behaviour – then you will want to read on!

One of our FAVOURITE exercises here at Barket Place – and one we use a lot over in our online training group, our Barket Club – is the “Ready, Steady, Go”! It’s a simple, effective activity that takes minutes to learn but can be a game changer when it comes to connecting with your dog out in the real world.

Despite being super simple to teach – this exercise is really clever in its use of anticipation, something we don’t utilise enough in dog training.

Want to give it a go? Let’s dive straight into how to teach it – then you can grab your treats/clicker and get training!

Start by simply saying the words “Ready, Steady, Go” When you say that magic word “GO” throw a treat or a toy for your dog to chase. Repeat this up to ten times in your first training session. Daily practice for just a couple of minutes will have your dog hooked on this game before you know it.

Once you’ve played this game over a number of days, then you can start to change the way you say those words… creating some anticipation before that word “Go!”. “Reeeeeaaaadddyy…(pause)…. Steeeeeeaaddddyyy…(pause)… Go!”. One of the great things about this exercise is that it uses ANTICIPATION… as soon your dog hears that “Ready”, their brain will anticipate the fact you are going to say “Steady”. Anticipation builds further now as they wait to hear that “Go”!!! Then they get to chase that treat or toy. WIN!

You can build this exercise up even further by adding in a static position for the “Steady”. Now your dog has to do something really calm before you release them for the excitement of that treat or toy. For example you could do “Ready, Steady… SIT, Go!”

Over time, your dog will predict that you’ll ask for this static behaviour and you won’t need to say “Sit” anymore – they’ll do it naturally. So now you can say “Ready, Steady” – wait for their static position to be offered – then mark and release them with the “Go!”.

Using a clicker or a marker word for this exercise is a good way to increase your dog’s understanding of what is expected of them.

Once you have nailed this exercise at home it’s time to take it out into the real world, outdoors. You can use this as a fun recall game because it works on your dog’s focus and the connection you have. You can also use this around anything that might trigger your dog to feel uncomfortable or become distracted. As soon as you see the distractions in the distance, you say “ Ready”. Even if they aren’t fully engaged their brain will still anticipate the “Steady” so when you say it they are a lot more likely to orient themselves towards you for you to then mark them and throw that treat ( or toy) for the word “Go!”. In distracting environments, you can leave the static position out of the exercise and just let them have some simple fun.

If you want to see this exercise in action – or to get a step-by-step visual guide to teaching it – make sure you visit our YouTube channel to watch our “Ready, Steady, Go!” tutorial.

This is a really fun exercise and we play a lot with our dogs when on walks. I hope you enjoy it.

Just one last thing… If getting your dog to come back to you when it’s off the lead is something you struggle with, we have an amazing {free} opportunity coming your way! Our ‘3 Week Recall Challenge’ is back for its 5th year over in our ‘Connect with Your Dog‘ Facebook Group. We’d love to see you there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/connectwithyourdog