Time for our new blog series – Trick of the Month! This month’s trick is courtesy of Robin Murray, a trainer at Fortunate Fido.
It’s trick time!
Every dog should know a few tricks. Sure, it’s fun to impress people at your dinner parties, but teaching new behaviors helps build your relationship and keep your dog’s mind sharp. You’ll probably be surprised at how smart he is, too!
A few ground rules for teaching tricks.
1) It is a trick—it needs to be fun. Keep it that way. Use positive training techniques only.
2) Choose a sound to mark the correct behavior. This can be a clicker, or a specific word, like “yes.” This is how you communicate to your dog that he has done something correctly.
3) Be patient. Some dogs are great at one trick and have a tough time with another. Eventually, you’ll figure it out—or pick a different trick. Not everyone can be an expert at everything.
Now for the Trick-of-the-Month!
We’re going to start out with a very basic trick. Every dog should know how to “shake paw.” Though this trick can be accomplished using lots of methods, here’s one that worked for me.
1) Have your dog sit facing you. Hold a treat in front of him, down low in your closed hand.
2) Mark with your word or clicker and reward with the treat as soon as he lifts his paw off the ground to paw the treat. If he is not using his paw, try moving your hand off to one side and reward for him even shifting his weight to start.
3) Repeat until he is putting his paw on your hand at least 75% of the time.
**Caution: don’t grab and hold his paw. Some dogs don’t like that and it might discourage him from repeating the behavior. Just let it rest on your hand at first.
4) Put the treat in your other hand behind you. Add a cue, like the word “shake”, or “paw,” and substitute an empty hand in front of him. Mark and reward right away with the treat you had behind your back.
5) Repeat until your dog is responding right away to the verbal cue. Ta Da!!
Robin is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. She enjoys teaching tricks classes and competing with her three dogs in agility, rally, obedience and nosework. Check out Fortunate Fido at http://www.fortunatefido.com
Have a training question you’d like answered? Robin will be answering questions next month, so send me yours at firstname.lastname@example.org.