An Introduction to Two Cups

Order of Trials

Trial 1: Right

Trial 2: Left

Trial 3: Left

Trial 4: Right 

Trial 5: Left

Trial 6: Right

Trial 7: Right

Trial 8: Left 

Trial 9: Right

Trial 10: Left

Trial 11: Left

Trial 12: Right 

Now that your dog has the general idea that cups on the left or the right of the experimenter can have hidden treats, we will introduce your dog to making a choice between two cups.  

  • As before, the dog will be held by the handler. Now the experimenter will place one cup to the RIGHT of themself and one to the LEFT of themself. The experimenter should try to make sure that these are equidistant from them. 

  • The experimenter will then say “[Dog’s name], look!”, show the dog the treat, and then hide it under one of the cups. Look under the video for the order you should follow. Keep in mind that all of the lefts and rights are in reference to the experimenter, not to the dog or the handler. Again, make sure that your dog sees the treat go under the cup. You may have to get your dog’s attention a few times if they do not see it the first time. 

  • The experimenter then returns to their neutral position-- sitting, kneeling, or standing with their arms at their side. And, after 2 seconds, the experimenter says the release command, or “okay.” 

  • As before, the handler releases the dog. If the dog doesn’t move within 3 seconds, the handler can nudge the dog (gentle, centered tap on the butt or shoulders). Once the dog moves, the handler should not touch the dog until the end of trial when they are retrieving the dog.

  • If the dog touches the cup with the food (making a choice), the experimenter and handler can praise the dog. The experimenter can take the cup away and the dog may eat the treat. Just as before, every dog’s response will be a little different, so we trust you to know when your dog has chosen a cup. After the dog eats the treat the handler can then return the dog back to the start position while the experimenter prepares for the next trial. 

  • If the dog does not choose at all within approximately 30 seconds, restart that trial at step 1. However, if the dog does not make a choice two trials in a row, go back to phase 2 (one-cup alternating game) for two trials and then come back to this phase. 

  • If the dog chooses the wrong cup the experimenter should say “miss” and move on to the next trial.  

  • You should continue this phase, using the undermentioned order (under either the right or left cup), until the dog has successfully selected the correct cup in 4 trials (including repeated trials). If your dog has not met this criteria, but you have been working on it for 20 minutes since the beginning of the warm-ups, you may move on. Keep in mind that all of the lefts and rights are in reference to the experimenter, not to the dog or the handler. 

  • Give your dog a quick play break! They deserve it!