Yes Please/No Thank You with a Chin Rest
with Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie of PathandPaw, Training Advocate
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A chin rest is one of my favorite cooperative care skills. The dog keeping their chin in your hand or on a surface indicates that they're comfortable with what's happening and want to continue (and earn reinforcement!) But the minute the chin moves out of your hand or away from the surface we stop everything. This is a promise we make our dog that moving away is an easy way for them to ask us to stop what we're doing!


But first, we have to teach the skill! In this video, I break down the different steps. Here I'll also include some video links to dogs that are actually new to learning the chin rest:


  1. Lure your dog's chin into your hand. Mark when you feel the chin touching your hand and treat. (Video)
  2. Fade the lure as quickly as possible until your dog is offering the chin on their own. (Video)
  3. Add a verbal cue (optional - the hand can be the cue if that works for you) and then start to build duration by withholding the click for a few seconds at a time. (Video)
  4. Start adding in handling. Start very slow - just reaching towards the dog with one hand as they hold the chin rest. Remember that as soon as the chin moves, everything stops. If you're getting lots of chin moving away, you're probably adding in too much too fast. You need to put a lot of "money" in the trust bank before you can start building comfort with more invasive handling. (Video)


These steps will likely be broken up over several sessions. Take it slow and make sure it's fun. Keep sessions short and break it up with more fun, active stuff!


Let me know how it goes! I'd love to see the beginnings of your chin rest behavior, so be sure to share your progress with me!

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