Dog Clicker Training - Twist and Spin

This command is a good example of 'luring' a behaviour, as described in the sit lesson. You may even find it useful in certain circumstances other than your dog showing off!

This command may take a few more sessions to get right. Arm yourself with your clicker and plenty of treats. I find the best treat for this command is chicken roll cut into small squares about an inch square. They fit nicely between your fingers and really get your dog going as they can't get to them. Put a square of chicken roll between the index and forefinger of your left hand. You will be presenting the top of your hand to the dog so they get the scent of the treat (a bit like a lady presenting her hand to a man for him to kiss it). Most of the treat will be toward the palm of your hand which will be facing you. When you click you will turn your hand round revealing to your dog the treat between your fingers and allow them to take it.

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This photo demonstrates a poor attempt at luring the dog into turning. Although the dog is turning, the trainer’s hand is not close enough to the dog’s nose and so he is turning of his own accord thinking it is correct. Although he has turned, he will not get a click or treat for this one! The second photo below shows a good turn. The dog’s nose is following the smell of the treat in the trainer’s hand, moving in the exact way the trainer wants.


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Your dog should follow your left hand at the same level as their nose and get to the point where they twist their body round to follow your hand back toward your side. At this point (as they twist round) click your clicker. This marks the behaviour of turning to their left in a circle. After clicking, immediately turn your hand and let them take the treat from between your fingers.

After a while this behaviour can be initiated with a verbal cue, e.g. "twist", or whatever command you like; turn, spin and so on. Twist just seems to fit the movement nicely. As you lure your dog round say your command to them. When your dog appears happy and consistent with this movement using the verbal command, you can move on to using a hand gesture (move your hand round in an anti-clockwise circle in front of you) as well as the verbal cue. By then you won't need to have your dog follow your hand every time. After a while you will be able to replace the word with just a turn of a finger on either hand.

To get your dog turning on your opposite side uses the exact same method, only with the other hand in the other direction. Whatever verbal command you use make it sound different from the first one and make sure your arm or hand clearly goes in the opposite direction. Dogs work best with single word commands that sound different to one another.


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