Basics - Send Skills

Teaching a confident and accurate send skill is just as important as teaching the dog to push. There is a lot more to a send than meets the eye, so it’s important to lay a good foundation. When we reward our dog for the send, we also have the opportunity to reinforce other skills, such as orienting to the handler and the act of waiting for further instructions (Push cue stimulus control).

If you take the time to develop strong foundational skills, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can progress once those skills are solidly in place. On this page we’ll show you several training tips for the send skills needed for the skills certificate level, the best place to start! 

Send Examples

It often helps to have a good idea of the finished behavior to better understand how to train it. Below are examples of well performed Sends during a Send Skills test and a Pre-Novice Standard NATE game.

Send Skills Test:  Watch Dash with Chris make short work of the Send to behind the cone!

Pre-Novice Standard:   Linda and Potter do a beautiful job of demonstrating the Send.  Potter goes straight out to the point ball & lines up behind it without disturbing the other balls.  He then pauses  for Linda’s command to Push. He repeats the behavior for the other two balls.

Fundamentals First!

Training the Send skill is easiest with the Foundation Skill of Go to Mat.  Refresh the Go to Mat skill before advancing to the next step.

Introduction to Line Up & Orient to Handler

The next step after mat training is to get your dog to go to a mat that is behind an object – such as a cone or upside-down basket.  We don’t introduce a ball here as we don’t want the dog to immediately start interacting with the ball while we’re training the Line Up.

In the first video the dog is being trained to both seek the mat behind an object & line up across from the handler.

In the second video Monica Pielage shows the next steps by adding a little distance on her sends and introducing the verbal cue of line up.  (Feel free to choose your own cue.)

Gaining Distance

Add distance incrementally, 1' - 2' at a time. Don't be afraid to step back and make the distance shorter if the dog is struggling. 

In this video Sandi Pensinger demonstrates how she trains to get the dog to go further distances to a mat.  

Walking out to reinforce their position will help support them waiting there.

Throwing treats, food toys, or balls behind them reinforces going further out as well as waiting for the food or toy to be thrown.

A toy may be used to reinforce toy-driven dogs.

Fade the Mat

It is time to fade the mat when the dog is going out as far as needed. Check out methods to do this on our Foundations page.

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