SATS Bridges and Targets: Overview and Applications

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SianMT
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SATS Bridges and Targets: Overview and Applications

Postby SianMT » Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:00 pm

This post is a compilation of multiple discussions and threads on training with SATS (Syn Alia Training Systems), using Bridges and Targets (“B&T”).
My goal is to make information easier to find, and not necessarily to attribute each story, idea or animal to a particular person (this info is already contained in the source threads. So, the “I” or “me” in the scenarios below does not necessarily refer to me, SianMT). Special mention must be made, however, of “Julie K”, the main contributor of B&T training advice in this forum, and Kayce Cover, founder of SATS and innovator of the B&T methodology .
I did my best to keep the original intent of the discussions while rephrasing/rearranging as needed for succinctness and clarity.

LINK TO SATS
For in-depth discussion of concepts, videos, and for ordering the manual on step-by-step instructions on training the Bridges and Targets, go to the Syn Alia website: http://synalia.com

OVERVIEW

SATS
- SATS puts the focus on the relationship between animal and trainer, instead of on an external motivator such as food or a distraction. Bridges and Targets are components of SATS.
- A “target” focuses the animal’s attention
- The “bridge” is the primary motivator
- “Bridging” guides them toward the completion of the asked-for behavior
- Use of food rewards can be cut back significantly
- The animal gains confidence because they learn concepts, object discrimination, and how to manage their emotions

Bridges and Targets
- First, teach the Terminal Bridge (TB). This is the sound “X”, initially associated with food (eventually the sound “X” becomes the primary motivator).
- “X” is used because it is short, crisp and clear, and not often heard. Other sharp sounds, such as “G” or “K” are good, too. The word 'yes' is not good because it lacks crispness.
- The animal will usually recognize the TB in three trials.
- Next, teach the Primary Target (a.k.a. the two-finger target), a pointing gesture with either hand using your index and middle fingers together. The Primary Target is presented to the animal, who must touch it in order to be rewarded by a TB.
- Other targets can be: a long stick, pole, piece of paper, shape drawn on the floor, rubber mat, etc. But, the Primary Target (your pointing two fingers) takes precedence over all the other targets; meaning, that the animal must preferentially touch the Primary Target over the others.
- Targets placed at some distance from you can be used to teach recalls, go-outs, and other distance work.
- Next, teach the Intermediate Bridge (IB). This is the sound of a string of x’s, “xxxxxxxx”.
- The IB is a 'pathway' to the completed behavior. If the animal stops in it's efforts to offer you the asked-for behavior, you stop giving the IB.
- The intermediate bridge is usually delivered in cycles. A cycle is eight beats, (“xxxxxxxx”); a partial cycle is anything up to a full cycle.

Naming Body Parts
- Gives the animal a means of communicating with us. More than just rewarding behavior, it truly becomes communication. The dog becomes cognizant of their chin, nose, left or right ear.
- It’s best to start out teaching those body parts that the animal will use right away. For example, a dog will preferentially use its nose to touch a target; so teach “nose” as the first body part.
- The animal demonstrates understanding when it touches back with the asked-for body part. With a timid dog the first touch-back may be ever so slight, so you want to IB any inclination on their part. Don't ask for duration, distance or other refinements right away.
- Dogs learn body parts very quickly. It is usually the trainer who fails to recognize success by thinking the touch-back is accidental, or a fluke, or by missing it completely.
- It's not important what you name the body parts, as long as you're consistent. To make the connection, the dog must always be presented with the same word for a body part or for an object.

Naming Objects
- Teaches the animal object discrimination without the use of clickers or bait.
- Allows refinement of definitions of contacts or go out points
- Allows teaching spatial directions (left, right, straight ahead, behind, at a distance, laterally). The animal is bridged and reinforced for holding a directional mark before moving to it (as in heeling, front and directed jumping).

Duration
Duration is where the animal stays in the requested behavior (e.g. connected with his nose to a target) for a certain length of time. Duration is taught using increasing cycles of IB.

Conditioned Relaxation
- The animal learns to relax on cue, which makes them more able to think and properly function in overadrenalized situations (e.g. flyball, agility, strange dog approaching).
- Massaging the muscles in the neck, jaw, or shoulder causes the muscles to relax, and the brain to release serotonin, which is pleasurable to the animal.
- Introduce conditioned relaxation in a non- stimulating environment. When you feel the relaxation under your massaging fingers, name it “easy”, and bridge. Repeat, using IB cycles to increase duration. Train this, like any object-naming training, on a regular basis.
- Start doing this in different situations and adding distractions. Eventually, the animal learns to relax on cue when you say “easy” even without applying the massage.

Perception Modification
- Literally modifies (i.e. changes) the animal’s perception of a scary experience (e.g. vacuum cleaner, boogieman, thunder, gunshots).
- When presented with the scary object/experience, name it, then say “easy”. Bridge the animal when you notice it relax - even just a tiny bit. Note: the animal must already be fairly proficient in conditioned relaxation under mild distractions.
- What you’re doing is associating a formerly scary experience with a pleasurable one (i.e. the serotonin release in the brain), thus modifying the animal’s perception.


APPLICATIONS

Body Parts

Scenario:
Reno was taught "chin" by me touching his chin, and saying "Chin, X" when his chin was in my hand. "Reno chin" I touch his chin, "X". After a couple of times, he learns that "chin" when my hand is held out means that I'm asking for his chin in my hand, and that doing what I ask gets him the bridge, which is a good thing!
Now, when I say "chin" and hold out my hand, he comes to put his chin in my hand to get me to say the good word! At first he pulled away quickly. By repeating "X", he might jerk away a bit, but quickly returns and keeps his chin in my hand because all this good stuff is happening!
Right now, I'm working with him on chin on floor, chin on my knee, chin on my foot, and chin on basically any object.


Left and Right
Body parts are taught on the head first. Once the animal learns nose, chin, teach the concept of right and left on the ears.

Pause tables, weave poles
Learning body parts and targeting opens the door for complex behaviors, and make teaching contacts and pause tables simple. Anything can be a target, and you can ask the animal to contact any body part to your chosen target. In teaching weave poles, each pole is a target. Ask for left shoulder on the first pole, right shoulder on the second, left shoulder on the third, right shoulder on the fourth, etc. You can name the entire sequence “weave”, then use this name for competition runs.

Retrieve
After naming “mouth” and muzzle parts, proceed to naming “mouth open”, “hold”, then “deliver” (to a two finger target). Start teaching retrieves using a finger. Progress to simple objects like a dowel, spoon, etc. The dog can then generalize this to other objects.

Cheating on sits and downs
For the “almost-sit” or the “almost-down”.

Scenario:
George used to cheat by lifitng his testicles. He learned about his testicles, and that they must touch the ground in a sit.


Scenario:
A dog who cheats on the down by keeping its chest or elbows up. Name the chest and/or elbows. Name the floor as the target. Then ask to touch the chest and/or elbows to the floor.


Down-Stay
Teach the “chin on floor” and “tail on floor”. Build duration with IB cycles.

Sit and Down
Teaching the sit to a dog who does not want to sit.

Scenario:
Spoilt, hyper dog who doesn’t care about food. I told the dog I was going to move my hands down the leash to her collar. Then, that I was going to put my hand in her collar. Held my hand in the collar for a nanosecond, bridging.
Repeated twice, each time increasing duration, and naming “easy” as dog becomes more accepting. When the dog accepted my hand in her collar, I stop, and give her a break (“soak time”).
Five minutes later, repeat. Then touched her butt, named “butt”.
Repeated twice, bridging, saying “easy”, getting duration. Soak time.
Five minutes later, repeat. Now the dog is targeting my hand with her butt. My hand moved towards the “floor” (named), and “sit” (named) is achieved.
For a down I would use a chin on two finger target and bring that to the ground. For stand I would use two body parts, “chin” and “base of tail”.


Follow

Scenario:
Getting a very young puppy to follow you. Don't expect her to follow very far, her world is pretty small right now, and it's all sort of a sensory overload and overwhelming. Her little nervous system isn't mature yet.
Wiggle a two finger target for her and reinforce her coming a small distance to you and touching your fingers. Then, if you just walk away from her, the motion will probably cause her to follow.


Recall

Scenario:
I say "Reno, Come!" and when he was heading towards me would start bridging his behavior with "xxxxxxx"....and every time he came right to me. It's like saying "yes, you're doing good, keep coming".


Heeling
Offer a two finger target for the dog to touch with her nose. Then do this while moving forward, holding the two finger target so that the dog is in heel position when its nose is at the target.

Stacking
Teach the dog to touch its feet to targets on the floor, its tail to a finger target, and its nose to another finger target. Sometimes it helps to put the dog on a grooming table, chair, or counter.

Leash Manners, Walking
When the dog pulls on the leash, name it “tight leash”. When he slacks off, name it “loose leash”. Bridge the dog when he’s in “loose leash”.

Scenario:
Walking with Vicki and Solomon, they tightened up at a squirrel and I just marked it again (that's a “tight leash”...show me a “loose leash”) and as soon as one of them gave a teeny bit of slack, I marked it loose leash again! Of course the other one wanted it in...so loosened up!


Scenario:
I'm walking Bosco in a park on leash, and oncoming are a person with unruly/overinquisitive dog on a waaaay-too-long leash.
I take Bosco off the main walking path, far enough from the path that I'm confident the oncoming dog cannot reach us as they walk by. I then go through a routine of heeling, sit, down, spin in circles on command, backup (all fun, active exercises we do at home and in class). Anything I can think of that keeps her mind focused on me, and her brain busy wondering what I will ask her to do next. These exercises must come GO, GO, GO, in quick succession, because I don't want her mind to wander. That's why I don't tend to do stays under these circumstances.
As soon as the oncoming dog has passed us and continues to get further from us down the walk, I make her sit/down so that she can still see the other dog, and I do the conditional relaxation routine. Then we resume our walk.


Scenario:
While walking, Bosco spots a squirrel, rabbit, etc before I do, and has started pulling and fixating,
As soon as I can I pull her, away from the location of the prey. I position her so that she can no longer see the prey (either by blocking the view with my body, or by taking her behind a building/tree/dumpster).
Now I can start a routine of "focus on me" stuff. Once she's focused on me, I may bring the prey back into her view, simultaneously naming it, and bridging her. If she can look at it without going into another fixation, I let her look while doing conditioned relaxation. If I sense that she's about to fix on it again, I remove her from being able to view the prey again, and repeat the above routine.
The way I test if she's fixated or not, is I ask her to look at me (I've taught her this). If she does, then it's clear she's still listening to me.


Bite Inhibition
Teach a dog to let go of an object in its mouth, AND to hold on to an object in its mouth (like carrying a dumbbel). A dog's mouth is the equivalent of our hands; it's the dog’s main tool. Teach them about their mouths while they are puppies. Teach them to NOT inhibit their bite by making sure they have appropriate things to explore with their mouths, and by not making a big deal out of them mouthing the wrong things.

Scenario:
Name parts of the mouth: lips, back of mouth, gums, tongue, teeth, nose, bridge of nose, and chin. Then name “mouth open” and “mouth closed”. Get duration on the nose, bridge of nose, and mouth touching a target, and get duration on that.
Name your index finger, and tell the dog that you want to put it in its mouth, and do this very quickly.
When the dog accepts this, put your thumb on the chin and your middle finger on the bridge of nose, and build duration on that.
This is a sensitive way to get bite inhibition. This breed is great with it because they are so oral, so into using their mouths.
This is where you can teach “hold”, and introduce different named objects. The dog learns to pull and pull back. Bridging helps enormously here.


Relaxation

Scenario:
Massage the dog’s neck. When you feel the dog start to relax the neck muscles, start bridging. Name the relaxation “easy”. When the dog understands “easy”, add distractions gradually and do the same thing.
If you notice your dog getting overadrenalized start massaging, and ask for “easy”.
Once you start doing it more and more your dog will start doing it on their own, but this takes a loooong time to get to that point.


Scenario:
George and the 7 month old grandson. Baby and Dad are at the door, putting the key in the lock. George is sitting and waiting on his side of the door---his decision. I compliment him and point out how clever he is to know who is visiting. It takes a phone call and a knock on the door for me to get it---he knows because he recognizes the sound of their car and their smell as they approach the door, and I tell him this.
Baby and his dad come in. George stays in a sit with a bit of a scoot to get closer to them. He wants to touch, sniff, and lick the baby so I ask him to show me the baby's hands, feet, and nose, which he does. Baby wants to get down and explore, so the dad asks George to “down” and get “easy”. Not only does George comply, he goes over and beyond my expectations and rolls onto his back exposing his belly.


Fears, Phobias
When an animal gets far into fear, it's not that much different from aggression (or any other emotions), in that the brain is producing addicting chemicals, so that the animal is actually seeking out the triggers (e.g. by seeming frozen, “locked in” on the object).

Scenario:
A dog afraid of garbage cans. Use a two-finger target to get her closer and closer to the garbage can. Keeping her moving by backing up maybe 2', then 4', then 6'. Build up a rhythm doing it, both with your bridging and your movement. After the third one, give her a brief rest, then repeat. Smaller steps in the beginning will make eventual success sooner!


Scenario:
A dog afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Set a goal of teaching the dog to push the vacuum, by naming a body part, and asking for the named body part to touch the vacuum. At the same time, diminish any undesirable behavior involving the vacuum.


Scenario:
A dog afraid of strangers and eye contact. Nevaeh cowers behind me or Cassie when someone new is around, and sometimes she barks at strangers. She is young, and exhibits flight reactions to stress, i.e. she is unable to stay in one spot under stress. We did VERY slow introductions, as follows: Cassie tells her she’s going to put a hand in her collar, then she keeps the hand with the collar stationary, thus stopping the bolting. Nevaeh and Cassie were both on a stationary target to help anchor them in their own space.
A volunteer then slowly walks up to Nevaeh, avoiding eye contact, and walks back while bridging the entire time. Repeated this twice, getting closer each time, then we gave her a break.
Repeated this with several different people (3 repetitions per person, with a break for each new person). We did not use food rewards; only the bridging.
By the time we were done Nevaeh was going FORWARD to sniff the hands. By the end of class she was walking up to people sitting down and smelling them.


Yes and No
Always use the same hand for consistency. Hold out 2 fingers as targets, and name them: e.g. thumb=Yes, pinky=No (but you can use any 2 fingers to indicate Yes and No).

Scenario:
Bosco started with 2 objects she had already consistently identified correctly, dumbbel and keys. I hold my left hand with the Y/N targets out, and use my right to show her the dumbbel, and I say "Is this dumbbel?", and I move my left hand so that my thumb (Yes) touches her nose, and I immediately say "YES, X !". Then I do it again, except I now want her to touch Yes. If she does, I give the TB. If not, I move my left thumb to touch her nose. Repeat, until she initiates the correct touch.
Next, I show her my keys, and say "Is this dumbbel?". This time I touch my pinky (No) to her nose, and say "NO, X!". And then I say "Is this keys?", and touch my left thumb (Yes) to her nose, and say "YES, X!"
I assess if she is getting it, or is confused, and adjust accordingly. The key was to select objects that she is absolutely solidly identifying correctly already. Otherwise, what I’d end up doing is "switching" the names for the objects in her brain.


Aggression

Scenario:
Bosco is dog aggressive, motion activated, and prey driven. George is hyper, large, intact, and has warm fuzzy feelings for other dogs.
Both Bosco and George are asked to hold their chins on a baby-gate. Bosco is asked if George can get closer. Every time she indicated “Yes”, we have George move a square closer to her. Bosco was recently asked if she would do this with George's father, F Lee Bailey, but she declined.


Scenario:
Again, with Bosco and George. We have been working on another exercise to get them in closer proximity to each other, starting with Bosco in a sit-stay. George then sits, close enough to touch her tail. George is asked to touch Bosco’s tail (both can target with their tails). She plasters hers to the floor, his is wagging excitedly, quivering and thumping hers. With a lot of bridging, he manages to slow his tail down, and touch hers with it. Their tails stay connected while we cycle them with IBs. To help steady her, Bosco is asked to place her chin on a target, and do “easy”.


Scenario:
Rowdy, intact pit-lab mix at a shelter awaiting evaluation and placement. Even though he did not show HA tendency at the shelter, he allegedly bit someone after he was adopted out briefly, and was then returned to the shelter. He is also food aggressive with other dogs.
Advice for this dog was as follows:
The dog’s major motivation right now should be social interaction and the opportunity to get out of his run. There's a lot you can do with a dog behind a barrier to teach him calmer, acceptable behaviors.
Teach him bridges and targets. He can target the support poles in his run, go left and right, up and down, etc. He can contact your two finger target and be reinforced so he will have an acceptable motion-oriented way to interact with you. Teach him his nose and chin, and you can work on duration.
Work on conditioned relaxation.
Appeal to his mental abilities by teaching him some simple object discrimination, using stuff that are “boring” (e.g. a spoon), as opposed to “prey” objects – reserve these for when he knows more. Teach a formal retrieve on a non-prey item.
Channel his energy by sending him to a remote target, and then calling him back. This teaches him “come” and “go”. Build up a fast rhythm of going back and forth. Increase the distance until you are at a full Flexi length.
When you go to get him out, he’ll be standing and staring at you, so bridge that. When he disengages from you, stop the bridging, so he learns it's not what you want. Further clarify what you want by naming his position as “stand” and naming the “four feet on floor.” He could achieve freedom from the run by doing this. Otherwise withdraw the opportunity, stop bridging, and close the door.
Now he’s been taught both ends of the “brain chemical spectrum” in a reinforceable way.
Avoid playing fetch, as this activity is directed inwardly, and seems (for him) to be a power trip. He needs to learn to exercise the mental part of his being. This can be exhausting, especially in light of the fact that he has probably been the victim of benign neglect and too much freedom. It will probably exhaust you, too, since you can't rely on food, you'll be going mostly on the bridges. He may get to where he likes food more as his focus switches from 'what can I rip up' to having a relationship with a person.


Multiple dogs
Most sessions should be done with one dog, or one trainer per dog, so you can focus totally on that dog. However, you could use two tie outs or train two targets. Another way of training two dogs would be to use two barriers, like x-pens, one for each.

Challenges
Quick sessions with strategic rest/soak breaks work better than drilling to the point of boredom. With any type of training, stop while the animal is still engaged.
Make sure that a each lesson is proofed before going on to a new lesson; i.e. that a concept is truly understood by the animal. Otherwise, the animal may just start “throwing behaviors” at you in a hit-or-miss attempt at getting the reward.

Scenario:
The dog tries every trick in the book, without actually listening to the trainer’s words. In addition, the dog moves so fast it’s hard to give the IB’s.
Advice for this dog was as follows:
The bridges are not yet established in this dog’s training. Without it, she's tunnel-visioned on the treats rather than the concept. Hence the zippy run-through of her "tricks repertoire". The bridge should be the major motivator (the IBs being the encouragement to get to the TB).
Work with fewer treats (don't treat for every correct reaction), or don't show her the treat (use a treat bag so that the treat is not always in hand).
When she goes into the hyper, look-I-can-do-everything mode, stop, and wait for her to calm down. Work on conditioned relaxation.
Applying IB’s in cycles is very supportive to the animal, and it builds duration.


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pblove
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Postby pblove » Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:19 pm

Can this be made a sticky please?
Thank you so very much for this thread also!!!

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lpyrbby
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Postby lpyrbby » Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:44 pm

A sticky would be FANTASTIC!!

This is some good stuff that everyone should read!

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Red
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Postby Red » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:46 pm

Thanks Sian. :thumbsup:

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Postby IamaDick » Tue May 01, 2007 10:36 am

Very well put together! :thumbsup:

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Postby Deniselynn » Tue May 01, 2007 12:55 pm

Thank you SO much for posting this! :bowdown:

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04100824
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Postby 04100824 » Wed May 02, 2007 5:21 pm

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Very nice!

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Postby Wesam » Wed May 02, 2007 10:24 pm

Amazing!!!!!!!!! Exactly what I was hoping for :thumbsup:

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Postby Monika » Wed May 02, 2007 10:38 pm

That was really helpful... Thank you sooo much! :)

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Postby GreddysAngel » Fri May 04, 2007 12:36 pm

Just wow! Thank you! :bowdown:

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Postby Bauer421 » Tue May 08, 2007 11:21 pm

This is very interesting. I think I am going to give this another read...

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04100824
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Postby 04100824 » Thu May 17, 2007 11:01 am

I wanted to post the video links in here as well since this topic has been made a sticky:

http://synalia.com/videos/

http://www.dogster.com/video/484833/Chin_on_baby_gate

http://www.catster.com/video/494759/Kitty_chatter

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Postby 04100824 » Thu May 17, 2007 11:29 am

Also, I'd like to add that this is not a "sit, down, stay, come" kind of training. While this method can be used for these purposes (and makes teaching them very easy) it is far beyond that. It's a way of communicating with your animal that can be used in every day life. It's teaching the dog about the world around them, and how to cope with or react in different situations as well as teaching people to listen to and improve their understanding of their dogs. It truly builds a relationship between the dog and the handler. There is no real beginning or end with this type of training and working sessions don't have to be a full-out, sit-down session. With my dog, I will name simple hosehold objects while doing chores and have noticed that he "asks" me what things are. I'll be watching TV while doing conditioned relaxation, or will name a new body part or object during play or just in passing. Also, this training works very quickly. I've seen dogs go from learning the terminal bridge and intermediate bridge to putting their front paws on a curb while moving left and right and offering different body parts and learning objects in just one class.

There isnt an age limit - I've seen both puppies and very old dogs start this training and have success. It can be useful for dog sports or obedience and can be a great aid in working with behavioral isses or just having a good family pet.

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Postby SianMT » Thu May 17, 2007 8:52 pm

Yesss! Thank you for putting this in context, 04100824 :thumbsup:

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Postby SianMT » Thu May 17, 2007 9:09 pm

I know how hard it is to "get" a new concept by just reading about it. I recently wrote the following in response to someone's request for help with the terminology (it's how I understand B&T) :

Basically, the "Bridges" and "Targets" give you, the trainer, the verbal means to tell the animal 2 things when you're teaching it something:

-1- "You're close, you're on the right track, keep going, keep going,..."
-2- "Mission accomplished! You're there! You're done! You got it!"

These two items of trainer feedback to the animal are key in speeding up the animal's learning of commands AND entire concepts you wouldn't previously thought possible. Both these feedback items are the "Bridges"; item 1 is called the Intermediate Bridge, aka "IB"; item 2 is the Terminal Bridge, aka "TB".

Once you've conditioned the animal to the IB and TB, you can name things and experiences. In other words, the animal already knows about things in its world, but now you can also teach it what you, the human trainer, calls these things. Why is that important? Because it allows you to communicate with the animal in words! You're teaching the animal the human spoken language!

The "Targets" are literally that: physical locations where you want the animal to direct its efforts (usually by touching a specified part of its body to the target).

Simple example: You want the animal to come to you (i.e. the Recall). You've taught it that the word "nose" means his nose, and that "Here!" means touch "nose" to the tips of your fingers (the "here" target). So now you can recall it from a distance just by saying "Here!".


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