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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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