It All Adds Up

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about adduction and Clover and I have been playing around with it.

So what is adduction?

One of the dictionary definitions for adduct lists it as a chemical term: A chemical compound that forms from the addition of two or more substances.

So how does adduction relate to dog training?

The fabulous Ken Ramirez gave a great talk on Adduction at Clicker Expo. I was lucky enough to be able to attend it in person a few years ago. According to Ken’s talk, adduction is the art of combining cues — a type of compound cue. Adduction combines tricks and skills that don’t usually go together to create new behaviors.

When you ask your dog to lie down and he does but keeps barking, he’s performed his own version of adduction. He’s created a new behavior, barking while lying down. You just didn’t cue the barking, that was his own idea!

The trick where a dog rolls herself up in a blanket is adduction. The dog needs to be able to hold the blanket and roll at the same time.

What skills are really strong for your dog? Can they be combined to create any new and fun behaviors?

Adduction is a new challenge for Clover and I and a fun way to be creative with our training.

We previously worked on burrito – Clover rolling herself up in a blanket ( and currently we are working on spin and hold and back up and hold. Down and back went better than I expected. She’s scooting backwards from a down when I cue her to down and then give her a hand signal to back up.

Here are a few examples of our experiments with adduction:

*Ken Ramirez’s talk is available for purchase at

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