The 123 Treat game is what we call a pattern game - 1 = 2 | 2 =3 | and on 3 = treat in mouth.


It is designed to help your dog with loose lead walking and to get past things or situations. It helps to create predictability, especially in unpredictability. The goal of the game is to teach your dog what to predict and expect. Start by working with your dog in a rhythmic pattern of behavior until they understand clear expectations and they feel comfortable. Through this pattern game you are teaching your dog to focus intently on the game and to listen out for the magic number 3. To do that they have to listen to you no matter what is happening around them as they could miss the 3 because the pattern always continues. Yes, they will notice that a dog/person has appeared and their environment has changed, however the pattern has not and they can still predict that 3 means they get a treat. You will start by teaching this game in an environment that is not distracting and your dog feels safe so they can concentrate. Only once your dog fully understands the game and has proofed the behaviour will you introduce it into the real world when walking with your dog. 

As soon as you start counting your dog needs to velcro to you in the reinforcement zone so they are close to get the treat. If can also help bring your hogback to you into the reinforcement zone. 


Key Factors of this game: 

  • When first establishing this game, start still. The reason why this game is first taught still is that you must hold the same pattern per repetition and have the treat in your dogs mouth by 3. If you start with walking, firstly your dog has no understanding of this game and will probably be ahead ahead of you so you will either have to stuff up your pattern to get the treat in your dogs mouths by 3 or hold the pattern but not have the treat in your dogs mouth on 3. Neither teaching your dog the value in the pattern.  

  • Treat has to be in your dog's mouth on 3. 

  • You must hold the same time per repetition. E.g. if you have 3 seconds between 1 and 2, you must have a 3 second pause between 2 and 3. If you are doing a couple of repetitions in a row you can play around with the seconds between as long as you hold the same number of seconds between 1 & 2 and 2 & 3 per 123. Remember to allow enough time for your hand/arm to physically get to your dog's mouth between 2 and 3 no earlier. 

  • You must hold the same tone per repetition. E.g. 1, 2 and 3 must be said in a high pitch voice not 1 in high pitch, 2 in low pitch and 3 in high pitch again). If you are doing a couple of repetitions in a row you can jump from pitch to pitch per repetition as long as you hold the same pitch per 123. Be mindful that one and two are cut off words and 3 is more of a drawn out word so naturally one and two are said quite harshly where three we tend to naturally say it with more of a kick to our voice which changes the tones between them. Really important to be mindful of this. 

  • When you start to walk playing this game, count either your right or left foot forward to hold the pattern. E.g. on every right foot forward I will say 1,2,3. To increase distance/duration of this game you will then start to add in more steps between each number. E.g. after saying 1 every 5th left foot forward I will say a number. So at this pattern rate to complete a repetition you would need to walk 21 steps. 

* Video yourself playing this game as you won't be able to watch your own body language, tone, pattern, etc when you are playing it and therefore can't critique yourself. You won't think you are doing something incorrectly until you watch it back and can see yourself doing it. 

If you don't follow the key factors of the game, your dog won't learn to "count", "learn the pattern" instead they will learn your pitch, 

Step 1: Out of reinforcement zone - 

  1. Start by staying still and counting to three the same way every single time - speed and articulation - over and over again (think that you are establishing predictability and for your dog to learn that when you say the word 3 it means treat). On three you must have a treat in your dog's mouth as you say the word 3. 

  2. Once you notice that your dog understands that 3 means treat you can now change up the way you count. E.g. speed, tone, pattern, timing, etc. 

  3. Now we are going to introduce movement. Start by walking the same speed every time you play this game and whilst you are walking count out loud one, two, three and treat must be in your dog’s mouth as you say the word three. To help with pace and timing you can count to each left or right foot forward. What you are doing here is indicating to you that ONE, means that the word TWO comes next, which is then followed by THREE which means treat. You can use this game to get your dog to focus on you if they are a puller or if there are distractions around. 

Step 2: If they resist, keeping walking backwards - If you need to walk more then 3 steps you will likely hit the end of the lead and come to a resistance. That is okay. Do not stop or pause when this happens instead keep walking and what ever resistance they are putting on the lead you can do the same to keep walking backwards until they re-engage and walk towards you. It is like you are saying "Okay you can smell that but I am going this way". 

Step 3: Stick your lure hand out towards your dog - The moment your dog walks towards you, stick out your non-lead hand with fingers pinched and use it as a lure to guide your dog back into the reinforcement zone. They will be facing towards you.


Step 4: Step Backwards - As you are luring your dog and they are just in front of you (roughly an outstretched arm length out) step backwards with your leg that's on the same side as your lure hand as your dog moves headfirst into the reinforcement zone as stated in the above step. Even though you have stepped back your weight is still shifted forwards. 

Step 5: Backwards lunge while you U turn your dog around - Continue to lure your dog now back behind you and loop them around like a U turn back into the reinforcement zone this time facing the same way with their head in line with your leg. As you loop them around behind you, shift your weight onto the leg you just stepped back and do a backwards lunge in time with your dog looping around so your hand, leg and dog flow in sync.

Step 6: Step forward in-time with your dog - As your dog's head comes in line with your leg (your dog is facing the same direction as you) step forward in time with your dog.


Step 7: Start finger boop or 123 game - Time that foot landing with starting the finger boop game by sticking out your index finger or starting your 1,2,3 Pattern game (you will learn this week 3) by saying 1. If you are doing the finger boop version, bridge the boop. If you are doing the 1,2,3, Pattern game don't bridge and release the treat on 3. 

*If you don't want to move into the Finger Boop Game or 123 Pattern Game, bridge your dog the moment they hit the reinforcement zone facing the right way and keep walking while you reward them. 

* Handy Tip - To help train this behaviour at home throw a couple of treats down on the ground and let your dog move towards them until they pull on the lead. The moment they pull out of the reinforcement zone or you feel resistance start this game.