Sue Ailsby's Training Levels?


Honored Member
Staff member
We used to have several members following the levels system, not sure what has happened to them. I have read over it some, but I haven't looked into it enough to implement it into my training. It's on the to-do list, lol.


Staff member
I use the old levels for my main three. I'm a little too poor right now to buy the new books. Maybe a birthday or Christmas present for myself. I knew I recognized your name just didn't connect it to the levels training list. I'm a steady lurker on there and don't really post. Glad to have someone else doing the levels here too!


Experienced Member
I used to use them and somewhere posted videos of my BC training for them. I think that, if nothing else, they give handlers/owners a regime to work towards and that has to encourage more training time. That has to be a good thing, right? :)


Staff member
I bought the e-book not too long ago. Even though I haven't been able to read it all, it's a nice blend of the old levels and new information that was needed. It's written exactly like it should be put in motion. Mostly, it is old behaviors and new behaviors split up into even more smaller pieces with a clear direction. From what I've read so far I like it.


Staff member
It's basically a training program that is written out for you to follow. It emphaizes splitting behaviors up and not lumping them together. The difference is in either the old or the new. In the old levels you didn't have the steps but she has it written out in how to teach it but the emphasis is on the final behavior and not creating any "holes" in training. In the new levels a behavior is split up even more ,so not only do you have a level which is the final behavior at the moment, then you have "steps" to teach said behavior in the level.

For example in the new levels, Level 1 'Recall' step 1 is "The dog looks for treats at your feet." while step 5 is "The dog comes for good things everywhere." in contrast to Level 4 'Recall' step 1 "The dog comes when another person is making eye contact with her." and step 5 "The dog comes and finds you hiding outside."

However in the old levels on the website, Level 1 'Recall' is "The dog must play the Come Game between the handler and a friend or stranger standing 20’ apart. An actual cue to come is desirable but not necessary." and Level 7 'Recall' is "The dog does a complete formal 20’ Drop On Recall. This is an optional behaviour."

I would highly recommend reading the introduction that bekah posted. It will answer a lot of questions.

Pawtential Unleashed

Experienced Member
So just to give you a bit of an idea - Levels is a free self paced system of positive dog training developed by Sue Ailsby in Canada. What makes it a little different is that things are taught in a certain order to take your dog to just before service or competition level training.

You can be as thorough or relaxed about it as you want. For example Sit can just mean dog is able to Sit or the extended versions add much more difficulty such as Sit is not considered complete until they can sit with you in any body position, sit on various objects/surfaces, sit in public with low distraction...[I do all the extended with my guys]

I have attached a copy of the Level 1 materials I made when I was still calling my business Desperado Pets - but you'll get the idea. I plan on remaking them for Pawtential.

To pass a Level you can simply decide you have done enough work and move on - or you can video it and submit it to the group or in my case I have a group of people who are working it together and we share with each other and in class I grade the criteria in an exam format if they want.

So for example J3 - Basic [still working on extended]:
Come - The dog must play the Come Game between the handler and a friend or stranger standing 20’ apart. [EASY PASS]
Down - The dog must Down from a Sit or Stand with no more than two cues ‐ hand and
voice, voice and body language, two voice cues. It is not necessary for the dog to stay
in the Down position, simply to lie down. [1/2 WAY - I STILL WANT MORE RELIABILITY]
Sit - The dog must Sit from standing position on one cue only (may be a voice OR a hand
cue, but not both, and no extra body language from the handler). The handler may use the dog’s name to get her attention before starting. [EASY PASS]
Touch - The dog must deliberately touch the handler’s hand with her nose on only
one voice cue. The hand in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue. [PASS]
Leave It/Zen - The dog must stay away from a treat in the handler’s hand for 5 seconds. There can be only one voice cue, which will be given before the hand is presented. [3/4 - STILL GETTING RID OF THE INITIAL HAND MUGGING]

Does that help?



Experienced Member
thank you very much for the information! I'm quite busy this week, but I will definetly look into it!