Training Dog Tricks
Teaching Simple Tricks
Because each dog has a unique learning style, it is your job as the trainer to find the best techniques to teach whatever trick you want to teach. The amount of sessions it takes to learn each trick also depends on the dog, but as long as the dog is progressing with each session, you're on the right track. Some additional things to keep in mind are:
- Only introduce one new skill per session.
- Remember that shaping outlines are building blocks to the final goal.
- Once the basics are establish, it's not a bad idea to review.
- Try to work in two or three short sessions a day with at least two hours between each session.
When teaching your dog tricks, you tend to incorporate many different techniques of teaching such as luring and targeting.
Teaching your dog to ‘wave' is a cute greeting trick that helps to eliminate jumping. To perform this trick, the dog must sit and raise one paw in the air.
- Start with the dog in a Sit/Stay and move a few steps away from him. Go back every few seconds for a full minute to reward the dog for not following.
- While standing in front of the dog, ask for his paw, click and treat him several times in a row.
- Take a step away from the dog and ask for his paw. Click and treat the slightest effort to raise the paw without trying to move towards you. You may need to reward the dog several times in a row before he stays in the ‘sit' position.
- As the dog raises his paw to put it in your hand, start fading that cue by quickly removing your hand. Click and treat the dog for swiping at the air.
- Repeat this step until the dog starts raising his paw when he sees your outstretched hand.
- As the dog starts to swipe the air readily without moving forward, you can begin to add the verbal cue, ‘wave.'
- Change the hand signal to an actual wave by changing the position of you hand from an outstretched hand to a waving one. Offer the new cue of waving your hand right before the old cue of the outstretched hand, and gradually fade out the old cue until the dog performs the behavior when you are waving at him.
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"There is absolutely nothing as fun for you and your dog than to train some fun tricks. There is a common misperception that tricks are just silly parlor tricks and not for the serious dog trainer. Nothing could be further from the truth."
- Dog Tricks
Dog training can be fun for you and your dog. Learn the basics about training your dog, and move on to different tricks.
Spinning involves the dog turning a circle in either direction. Using a target in either hand or a target stick to show the dog what to do may be easier than using a lure or a food treat.
Using your hand as a target, get the dog to follow you hand a quarter of the way around, then click and treat.
- Now, leave your target hand at the quarter-way mark and wait until the dog touches it with his nose on her way around before you click and treat. Practice this step until the dog performs it readily.
- Next, just before the dog touches your hand, move it to the halfway point and click and treat the dog for following your hand before the dog actually touches it.
- At this point, you can drop you hand and the dog may spin the rest of the way around, but continue to click and treat for attempting to turn without the target.
- Time the click so that you're clicking the dog for being at the halfway point.
- Continue to minimize your target hand and click the dog for continuing without the target to guide him.
- Fade the target hand to just a motion to the left or right.
- Fade the target to a simple left or right cue. A pointed index finger would be appropriate as a final stage.
Once the dog has mastered about ten ‘spins' in a row, you can now begin working at the dog's speed. To teach the dog to spin in the other direction, simply go back to the first step in the other direction.
Get Your Leash
This trick involves having the dog retrieve his leash and bringing it to you. To make this easier for the dog, have one place that you leave the leash. The dog must go get the leash and carry it to you in his mouth, holding it until you take it from you.
- Hold the leash out and ask the dog to take it. Click and treat the exact moment he puts his mouth on the leash.
- Back up a step and see if the dog will follow you; click and treat him for moving with the leash in his mouth.
- Put the leash on the floor and tell him to "take it." As soon as he picks it up, click and treat.
- Put the leash on the floor but don't click and treat until he takes it and then takes several steps towards you.
- Put the leash in various places at various distances and repeat. Click and treat for taking the leash under the new circumstances.
- Gradually move the leash to where the dog can expect it to be and click and treat him for going to that spot.
- Replace the ‘take it' cue with ‘leash,' by saying the new cue ‘leash' right before the old one. Gradually fade ‘take it' so that the dog will perform the behavior on the new cue.
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