Stand Up

This position is different from the cue to "stand", which is a grooming command that depends on your dog standing on all 4 legs to accept grooming... this cue teaches your dog to stand upright on rear legs like a human; and even walk around!

Steps

  1. Lure your dog into standing position and then simply take some treats in your hand and move your hand from their nose upwards.  At this point, it's okay to allow him to place a paw on you for support, you can fade this later if you wish.

  2. Build fluidity over the next 7 days, having him perform this trick whenever you find yourself standing next to him... doing dishes, looking out the window, etc.

  3. Reward any movement with their front legs off the floor.  Again, it's perfectly fine to allow him to balance himself with a paw (or 2) on you for support.

  4. Once they’re reliably standing up on their back legs, increase the duration they can maintain that position.

  5. Now say your cue ‘stand up.’

  6. Lure in the same way and as they continue to become more reliable, slowly reduce how much luring you’re doing each time.

 Walk Across A Beam

Teach your dog to balance and walk across a beam on all fours.

Steps

  1. Begin with your dog next to you, facing the board.   Any position is fine, sitting or standing.  Using really good treats, have him interact with the board, looking at it, sniffing it, poking his nose at it, then touching it.  At the end of this phase, the goal is to have all 4 feet on the board... Jackpot! Build fluidity over the next few days, gaining confidence.

  2. Initially have the plank of wood on the floor or ground for stability, and make sure it doesn’t wobble. Use a wide board at first, gradually reducing the width over a period of time til he's walking ocross a narrow board.  Reward at first for any movement on the board, even just repositioning... this helps your dog gain confidence on the board.  Practice this for several days until he's comfortable, keeping the working time short in duration (2-3 minutes) so that he doesn't have time to get nervous about the board.

  3. Have your dog move along the plank by luring with a really good treat at nose level, just out of reach.  Every step is rewarded, at this point in learning... allow your dog to earn each treat along the plank until he's comfortable, building fluidity.

  4. Raise the plank no more than an inch or 2, and repeat the steps above.  Don't go too fast, and you can experiment with laying treats along the plank for your dog to reach down and eat; be aware tho, that doing this can make your dog lose balance, or even just walk beside the board, eating the treats... be prepared to go back to hand delivery at any point.  

  5. Build fluidity, then reduce the treats required to get him across the beam.  Now, raise the beam again, just an inch or 2, building fluidity at each level (remember that when you increase the difficulty, you increase the rate of reward as well), til he's comfortable walking along a beam at the height you want.

  6. Now, you can add other degrees of difficulty... starting at ground height again.  For example, raise just one end of the board an inch or 2, and have him walk a plank that's elevated on one end.  

 

 Pivot Around An Object

Teach your dog to put their paws on an object and walk round it on their back legs.

Steps

  1. Lure your dog's front feet up onto an object like a stool, rewarding for each instance.  Build fluidity, reduce the reinforcement, then move to the next step:

  2. When he's in position, withhold the reward: move yourself so you are slightly to the side rather than in front or next to them, dogs usually reshuffle so that they can see you easier, and at this point say ‘good’ and reward them.

  3. Repeat several times until he's moved full circle, rewarding at each point of movement.

  4. Now fade out how much luring or prompting you are doing (maybe just gesture with your hand, or rock on your feet towards rather than taking a step) and reward any movements from them.

  5. With time and repetition your dog should start moving more fluidly and  for fewer treats until they can do a full circle without so much help from you.

 

  Kiss

Teach your dog to hold their nose against your cheek

Steps

  1. I've seen this taught a lot of ways, but the easiest I've used is to put a small dot of eyeliner pencil on your cheek, and teach your dog to target it.  You can use targeting your finger, or a sticky dot, but you'll have to fade those out.... fading a mark on you face (to me) is easier, because it'll smudge over time, fading itself.  

  2. Build up the duration of how long he’ll hold his nose on your cheek until around 2-3 seconds, building in fluidity.

  3. Now add your cue of ‘can I have a kiss’? and present your cheek.

 

 Wave Trick

Teach your dog to wave his paw at you.  This behavior is taught more easily with the use of a clicker, because you'll be able to mark that instant right before your dog's paw makes contact with your hand, when his paw is in that perfect position.  Of course, a verbal marker will work too, but the clicker is much more efficient.

Steps

  1. Initially, have your dog in 'sit' position, and hold your hand outstretched in front of you/him, in the position (palm up) of asking him to place his paw in your hand... as always, reinforce any interaction with your palm at first.   If your dog's first interaction is to nose your palm or sniff it, or to 'paw' at your hand, reinforce these, just to get things started.  A single reward per behavior offered will tell him that he's on the right track, jackpots will show him the impetus he needs to move in the right direction (closer approximation to the behavior you want).

  2. Now slowly increase the height of your hand placement so that he has to reach a little more, and reward when he paws higher... remember that single rewards mark any behavior that approximates the end goal, but Jackpots mark the better efforts.

  3. When you're getting about 50-70% better efforts (5-7 out of 10 reps), start to only reward those better efforts, and remember to change the rate of reinforcement so that ALL of the better efforts earn single rewards, but the BEST efforts earn a Jackpot... Continue this, building fluidity and  increasing effort until the behavior looks the way you want it.  

  4. Now add the cue ‘wave’ and build fluidity, then reduce the reinforcement until only the full behaviors are reinforced.   Change positions so that your dog is comfortable doing this with you on either side of him, across the room (building distance slowly).  Remember that using his other foot is a new behavior, and you'll have to start at the beginning to teach using different feet to wave.

  5. Slowly reduce how much hand gesturing you’re doing to enable your dog to wave with just a verbal request.

 

 Close The Door

Teach your dog to PUSH a door shut (PULLING a door shut takes a different - but similar - set of instructions).  **For safety, please don't have your dog practice this on a door that might allow him into traffic... accidents happen!

Steps

  1. Initially teach your dog to touch a post-it note or sticky dot; as an alternative, you can have him target a dot of eyeliner pencil.

  2. If using some sort of sticky paper, present the post-it note, and reward interaction with either nose or a paw (depending on the size of the dog).

  3. Now place the post it note at an accessible height on the door you want to teach him to shut and reward him for touching or pawing at it.  When he's reliably pawing at or nosing the door, withhold the reinforcement to cause him to paw or nose more vigorously, causing the door to move toward closing.  At this point, you'll be rewarding ANY movement of the door 1:1; but BIG movements get a Jackpot.  Keep the sessions short (3-5 minutes), so that your 4-pound Chihuahua doesn't gain 11 pounds in the 2 days it takes to teach this. lol

  4. Each time you get to the point where it's time to raise the criteria (50-70% compliance), reduce the rate of reinforcement and start to only reinforce those behaviors that more closely approximate what you want the end behavior to look like. 

  5. Now open the door a little further and repeat. Keep going until the door can be opened wide

  6. Add your cue of ‘close the door’ and repeat until you've reached the level of fluidity that you want with the post it note still in place.

  7. When fluidity is reached at this level, remove the post it note reduce the open-ness of the door;  and say the cue and reward when the door closes.

  8. Continue in this fashion until the behavior is at the level of fluidity you want.

 

 Tell Me A Secret

Teach your dog to press his nose against your ear as if he was telling you a secret.  ** this behavior is very similar to 'give me a kiss', and is readily taught in the same ways.

Steps

  1. Initially make the shape of cupping your hand as if you were trying to listen to something.

  2. To begin, you'll want to teach your dog to press his nose near the palm of your hand; present this c-shaped hand towards your dog and initially reward him sniffing or interacting with it like we did with the hand touch.

  3. When he’s confident and fluid with this, build up the time he holds his nose there for at least 5 seconds.

  4. This behavior is a lot easier to teach if you use the same-side for ear and hand... for example, use your right hand to cup your right ear, and teach your dog to 'whisper' there, building fluidity, changing reinforcement strategies, and also position-change if you want.

  5. Add the verbal cue ‘tell me a secret?’ and repeat the process.

 

 Push Object

Teach your dog to push a toy car (or a skateboard).

Steps

  1. Present the toy in front of your dog and start this trick by waiting for interaction, then mark and reinforce.  Do this until the behavior meets the criteria for fluidity (70-80%).

  2. Now present the object again and withhold marking the behavior, waiting for a little more interaction – a nose touch or shuffle and mark and reward.  Gradually approximate the end behavior while varying the rate of reinforcement to achieve this.

  3. During repetitions of this behavior, your dog will touch the object more and more, and you should increase how much touch you require before rewarding each time, approximating the goal behavior.

  4. If the object moves, Jackpot.  When the item moves 5-7 times out of 10, change reinforcement to build fluidity of the new higher standard (jackpotting movement of the toy, and ignoring the less vigorous movments.

  5. Now simply build up how far they’ll move the object with each attempt, or how often they’ll nose it to get it to move.

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