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Teaching New Tricks to an Old Dog

Teaching dogs new tricks

Have you ever seen a well-trained dog and thought, “I wish my dog could do tricks like that”? Well, think no more, as we have some fantastic teaching tips that will turn you into Cesar Millan in the blink of an eye.

It is probably the dream of most dog owners to teach their pets to do cool tricks, but there is one thing they must remember above all others. The dog must have at least some basic obedience.

Your dog should know the basic commands like sit, down, heel, etc., before trick training starts. Once these have been mastered, you can begin to build on them.

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Teaching the Begging

To start teaching this trick, it is best to have your dog sit in the corner of the room. His back must be to the wall, and you should be standing in front of him. The walls will support your dog and give him the confidence that he won’t fall over if he raises his front legs off the floor.

Take some small pieces of food and hold it above your dog whilst enticing him to reach up for it. Each time he takes the food, praise him and repeat the procedure, encouraging him to reach higher each time.

Whilst encouraging the dog to reach up for the food, you must make sure that he keeps his haunches on the ground. You can achieve this by moving the food back over his head slightly. This makes the dog shift his weight back over his haunches and teaches him to keep his balance.

Once the begging trick has been mastered in the corner of the room, you can gradually begin to move away from the wall. You must expect at this stage that the dog will seem to go backward in his teaching, but this is to be expected until he can perfect it just using his own body weight.

Training your Chihuahua, both basic commands and trick training

Shaking Hands

There are two parts of this trick for your dog to learn. A verbal part and a non-verbal part. Both work together to give the dog a cue that you want him to perform the trick.

First, the dog should start in a sitting position. Give him a single verbal command such as ‘shake.’ At the same time, reach out with your right hand until it is just a few inches from your dogs’ right leg. Your outstretched hand is the non-verbal cue.

Initially, your dog will probably sit motionless unsure of what to do. With your left hand, gently push or prod his right leg forwards until it rests in your right hand. When he has done this, praise him so that he knows he has done what you wanted him to do.

Practice this trick several times, praising after each successful result and gradually reducing the amount of left-hand prompting. This should be done until only the verbal and non-verbal cues are all that is needed.

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Shaking the head: ‘No’

Before you can begin to teach this trick to your dog, you will need to find something which will make him shake his head naturally. Some things that help are blowing gently on the ear, tickling the ear with a feather, or even lightly attaching a paperclip to the ear (without harming the dog!).

Once you have found the method that makes him shake his head, you will have to decide which verbal and non-verbal cue you want to use. A single word like ‘head’ along with shrugging of your shoulders is just one idea.

Again, your dog should start in a sitting position when first teaching him this trick. Use both cues together, along with the prod to stimulate your dog to shake his head. Once he does, reward him, even if it is just a small movement.

This trick is best learned in short sessions with momentary breaks in between. That’s why you shouldn’t try to repeat the exercise more than five times in one session. Otherwise, the pup will be too confused.

Gradually reduce the amount of prodding so that all that is needed are verbal and non-verbal cues. Once your dog has mastered the trick, he can learn it in standing and lying positions.

The main thing with teaching dogs new tricks is for the owner to learn that patience is a virtue. Do not scold the dog if he does not seem to be learning; it is always better to be patient and encourage him more.

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