Spin, Roll Over and Figure Eight!

What really got me interested in dog training was the desire to train my dog to do tricks. And once I was able to train my dog to do a trick, I was instantly hooked!

I remember the first trick that I taught my dog was, “Shake a paw.” Although very basic in nature, it was the coolest thing to me. And this developed into all sorts of tricks like “Jumping into my arms” and “Clean up your toys.”

There’s nothing quite like having guests over and seeing how amazed they are when my dogs perform the tricks. The one trick that everybody loves is “Shy,” which is my Siberian Husky touching her nose with one of her paws. It’s extremely cute!

In this chapter, I will give you some training guides that you can use to train your dog to do tricks. These tricks are not complicated and any dog can do them. Plus, you’ll be using the same luring technique as described in the obedience training from the previous chapter.

If your dog has not mastered the basic obedience behaviors from the previous chapter, I recommend that you do that first. These tricks are slightly more difficult to train and will require a good understanding of luring before you proceed.

Also, some tricks will require your dog to be able to sit or lie down. For example, your dog must first be able to lie down before you can train him to, “Roll over.”

Okay, let’s get started!

First, be sure to have some highly desirable food or treats that your dog really loves. It must be something that excites your dog to the point where he would do anything to get it. It can be anything he loves—chicken, sausages, beef, liver, etc.

Trick #1: The Spin

Requirements:

  • Highly desirable food or treats.

Description: The purpose of this exercise is to teach your dog to “Spin” in a circle numerous times.

Set-Up: Find a quiet and non-distracting environment so that your dog can focus entirely on you.

Exercise:

  1. Begin this exercise by holding a treat in front of your dog’s nose. But do not let your dog eat the treat until he completes the criteria described below.
  2. Next, move your treat in a semicircle, going to the right. If you can imagine a circle around your dog, you will want to move your treat starting from your dog’s nose to your dog’s tail or rear end.

    This way, your dog will be doing a half circle while following the lure. As soon as your dog completes the half circle, immediately let go of the treat. This will reinforce your dog in this behavior.

  3. As your dog becomes comfortable following the lure in this manner, you can then move the lure in a complete circle. If you do this correctly, your dog should then do a complete circle. Again, immediately let go of your treat once your dog turns around.
  4. Practice the previous two exercises until your dog fully masters them and can do them effortlessly. The next step is a little more challenging: it requires that you lure your dog in two or more circles before you release the treat.

    First, begin by training your dog to complete one circle. Then, once your dog can do it easily, move your lure in a circle twice in a row before releasing the treat. You can incrementally make it more challenging until your dog is doing four or five turns before you release the treat.

  5. If you want to associate a command to the behavior of spinning, then you will need to say your command, “Spin” one second before you lure your dog into the position.

    Step 1: Say the command “Spin.”
    Step 2: Lure your dog to spin two or three turns.
    Step 3: Release the treat.

Please be patient—it may require a week or two before your dog will respond to the “Spin” command without having to lure him.

Trick #2: The Roll Over

Requirements:

  • Highly desirable food or treats.

Description: The purpose of this exercise is to teach your dog to “Roll over” numerous times.

Set-Up: It would be ideal if you could train on a soft surface like carpet or a grass area, as a hard floor might not be comfortable for your dog’s back.

Exercise:

  1. Begin this exercise by placing your dog in a down position. Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose, but do not let him eat it until he completes the criteria described below.
  2. Next, move your lure to your right and towards your dog’s shoulder so that your dog has to look sideways to follow the treat. Your dog should remain in a down position for this.

    Once your dog has followed the lure and is looking towards his back, immediately let go of the treat. This is an uncomfortable position for your dog, so you want to build value in being in this position by giving positive reinforcements.

  3. As your dog becomes comfortable following the lure in this manner, you can then move the lure further until your dog drops onto his side. Immediately let go of your treat once your dog is on his side.
  4. The biggest challenge in teaching the roll over is to get your dog to roll onto his back. Some dogs really don’t like the feeling of rolling on their back, so you will need to make sure that you give your positive reinforcement with lots of praise as soon as your dog completes his first roll over.

    An easy way to get your dog to “Roll over” is to do the exercise as described above, but with momentum. What I mean by this is if you move your lure quickly towards your dog’s shoulder, and if he follows it with enough momentum, he will have no choice but to roll over.
  5. If you want to associate a command to the behavior of rolling over, then you will need to say your command, “Roll over” one second before you lure your dog.

    Step 1: Say the command “Roll over.”
    Step 2: Lure your dog to roll over.
    Step 3: Release the treat.

Tip: In order for the command to be properly conditioned, you must have precise timing. This means that each step must take place within one second of the previous one.

Trick #3: The Figure Eight

Requirements:

  • Highly desirable food or treats.

Description: The purpose of this exercise is to teach your dog to “Figure eight” in and out of your legs.

Set-Up: Find a location with a non-slippery surface like carpet, grass or asphalt. Training your dog on a hardwood or ceramic floor might be slippery for your dog.

Exercise:

  1. Begin this exercise by placing a treat in both of your hands. Hold your right hand in front of your dog’s nose, but do not let him eat it until he completes the criteria described below.

    Place your left hand behind you and between your legs. Lure your dog towards the middle of your legs and wiggle your left hand until your dog notices that you have a treat in it. Once he sniffs your left hand, immediately let go of the treat and let him eat it (see pictures).

    The goal of this exercise is to get your dog to follow the lure in your right hand, and to notice that there is food in your left hand.

  2. Next, you will want to do the same exercise as above, but this time once your dog has noticed the treat in your left hand, you will want to move your hand around your leg. As soon as your dog goes around your leg, immediately let go of the treat (see picture).
  3. The final step of this exercise is to continue the lure to the other side. You would begin the same way as above, but after your dog is lured around your leg, you would continue luring him with your right hand around your other leg. This will result in your dog doing a complete figure eight in and out of your legs.
  4. Associating a command to this behavior is a little challenging because most dogs rely heavily on visual signals to do this trick. What I recommend instead is that you teach your dog to follow hand signals as opposed to a verbal command.

    This can be accomplished by luring your dog two or three times in a row, then repeating the action without food in your hand. This way, your dog won’t know whether there’s food in your hand or not.

    And once your dog has completed the “figure eight” behavior, you grab a treat from your pocket and give it to him.

 

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