Who doesn’t love dog tricks??
Tricks! Shake, touch, roll over, spin, dance – they’re all fun to teach and fun to show off to friends and family. Tricks also can be a wonderful complement to your dog’s basic manners skills. For example, teaching your dog to catch a ball in the air is a great trick and also a fun way to continue work on their stay (by asking them to stay and wait until you toss the ball). Doing a shake, spin, or retrieve also can be a terrific reward for some dogs after completing a basic behavior like coming when called. And many dogs like to do tricks just because they’re fun to do!
At Doggy Business, we’ve been working on teaching “spin” (or turn around in a circle) during our Mix It Up class and in play groups. Spin is an easy trick to teach with either a lure or using your hand as a target (to learn more about targeting, check out February’s Behavior of the Month).
To teach a spin by luring:
- 1. Start in a quiet place with no distractions and your dog standing or sitting in front of you.
- 2. Take a treat and put it directly in front of your dog’s nose, and then begin to slowly move the treat to lure your dog in a large clockwise or counter-clockwise circle. You may need to adjust the speed at which you move your hand and where you are placing the lure (ideally directly in front of your dog’s nose, not too far above or below it).
- 3. After your dog completes the circle and returns to standing or sitting directly in front of you, feed them the treat and return your hand to your side.
- 4. Repeat several times and try both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
- 5. Once your dog has done the spin several times in a row and is comfortable moving through the whole circle, you can start to phase out the food lure by moving the treat from the hand you were luring with, to your opposite hand. Use your other hand as if you had a lure and lure your dog in a spin, then treat from the opposite hand. Over time you can make your luring hand movements smaller and less pronounced to transition to a hand signal, and then add a verbal cue.