How to Teach Your Dog to Crawl and Other Tricks—#MuttTricks

Happy Hallowe’en!

While the usual way to celebrate is trick or treating, today we have some tricks for treats.

Teaching your dog new tricks can be a fun way to switch up your routine. We’d love to see what tricks your dog already knows—or some new ones you’re working on.

Throughout November, post your pet’s tricks on Instagram with the hashtag #MuttTricks and tag @thatmuttcom.

At the end of the month, we’ll do a round-up of some of the pics and videos you guys show off! (You can also post to That Mutt’s Facebook page if you’re not on Instagram.)

Does your dog know these tricks?

Does your dog know these five tricks?

1. Crawl
2. Spin (or twirl)
3. Back up
4. Shake or “high five”
5. Speak or “sing”

Or, does he know a different trick?

Read on for tips on how to teach your dog to do tricks.

Baxter’s most complicated trick is crawl: [Link.]

Watching the video, you can probably figure out how I taught him.

We started with down. Then I held a favourite treat low to the ground just a few inches in front of him and said, “Crawl.”

If he stood up and tried to step towards the treat, I pulled my hand back and said, “No.” Then I put him down and started again. He learned super, super quickly that he had to crawl to get the treat.

Eventually, I was able to extend the space between Baxter and the treat so that he would crawl for a longer distance.

My tips for teaching your dog tricks:

1. Pick a behaviour your dog already does naturally.

Baxter very occasionally crawls on his own, so I knew it wouldn’t feel completely foreign to him.

He does an outstanding downward dog, and I think it would be easy to turn this into a trick by “marking” the behaviour with a command—“yoga,” for example—and a treat.

2. Start small.

Don’t expect your dog to crawl all the way across the living room on your first attempt. Hold the treat just a couple of inches in front of him so that he only has to crawl a couple of inches to get it. As well keep your training sessions short, so that your dog doesn’t get frustrated.

3. Break a trick down.

Maybe your trick involves multiple moves. Think that through and teach each one individually. Baxter first had to know down before he could learn crawl.

4. Use high value rewards.

Baxter’s not super energetic and not super food motivated. However, he’ll do pretty much anything for cheese!

You know best what motivates your dog. And maybe it’s playtime or fetch rather than treats. Make training fun!

Remy thinks “twirl” is a fun trick: [Link.]

5. Stick with it.

Train every day, or a couple of times a day. Your dog needs consistency to master a new behaviour. Laura at Rubicon Days made a good point in a recent post where she shared her girls’ awesome tricks: as the weather gets colder, trick training can offer stimulation and keep your communication and bond strong with your dog, even if you’re not outside as much.

One of Ace’s tricks is “sing”: [Link.]

6. Start and end with a success.

At the beginning of each session, start with a command your dog already knows and does well. Maybe it’s as simple as asking him to sit a couple of times. This simple exercise helps your dog to focus on you and allows you to celebrate success together. At the end of the session, ask for the same behaviour again so that your dog ends with a “win.”

What tricks does your dog know?

Let us know what tricks your dog already knows and what you’re working on. We could all use some new ideas!

Post your tricks on Instagram with hashtag #MuttTricks and tag @thatmuttcom. At the end of the month, we’ll share some of your tricks!

(You can also post your dogs on That Mutt’s Facebook page or email your pics and videos to

Julia Thomson is a regular writer for That Mutt. Visit her blog Home on 129 Acres here.

Does your dog know these tricks?

29 thoughts on “How to Teach Your Dog to Crawl and Other Tricks—#MuttTricks”

  1. My Emma Lou can do all of thoses tricks but the crawl.She will by the end of the day.This is great,It makes me want to teach her more tricks.I`ve kinda slow down on teaching her new tricks.Thanks

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    Ace knows a lot of the basic tricks like speak, play dead, roll over, shake and take a bow. His most complicated trick is probably “get your leash” where he walks over and picks up his leash. I would like to teach Ace a new trick but I can’t even think of what to teach him! So I would like some ideas. It’s hard because he’s older and stiff so he can’t do things like put his paws over his eyes or “wave.”

    Remy knows “twirl” and I’m starting to teach him “take a bow.” I have plenty of ideas on what to teach him since he’s just starting. Both are so eager to learn!

    1. Does he know shake (as in shake your body, not shake a paw)? One of our hike group shakes on command. It’s a handy trick when you have a wet dirty dog that is about to hop in your car. And after bath times, her owner closes the shower curtain and has her shake off three times before getting toweled off.

  3. Thanks for this post (and may I request more trick posts?)! I’ve been wanting to teach my dog some tricks, especially now that the weather is so cold and rainy and we’re indoors a lot more. He loves treats and is smart, so I think he’ll learn quickly. I taught him to take a bow because he does that naturally anyway, so it was easy with the clicker. But I kind of didn’t know what else to try. This has some good ideas. I think we’ll try crawl and back up.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      With “back up” it worked to walk towards Ace and he figured out I wanted him to back up. Remy seems a bit more challenging because he wants to jump up on me. And you’re right about the clicker, that seems to really speed things up with communicating during trick training. “Oh! That’s what you want! I see!”

      1. I never thought about ‘back up’ being a trick. We use it with our two to give us some space, for example if they are too close to a door and we need to get, or to give more space at feeding times – I tell them to back up (my kitchens that small they need to give us room anyway). Another ‘back’ I use is when walking – especially with Odin, as he wants to be in front, which is okay when he’s relaxed, but when he’s in a slight mood, it is a real bad thing, We have taught it them as part of a good manners thing.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Yes! I’ve found “back up” to be very useful too for the reasons you mentioned, often just to get my klutz of a mutt to give us space when we have drinks on the coffee table and that sort of thing.

      2. Practice “back up” with a wall on your side (or a big piece of furniture), so there is nowhere else to go. Some dogs do better if you walk into them, some do better if you are facing the same way as them and both moving backwards. Open spaces make it much harder to teach back up at first.

  4. Love this! What a fun diversion from some of that “other stuff” we are being inundated with and growing weary of these days. I should treat Sophie a trick! Thank you for the very good tips on how to do it.

  5. all our dogs do shake, but each seemed to have their own trick they liked. One of them did high five, up on his back legs, paw to hand. Another one played dead when I yelled “bang”, and his special trick was “find the kitty”, which he always did. At least he always thought of it as a trick. Another one loved “house bark”, a very low, very quiet woof. My grandmother, who was an excellent piano player, had a dachshund that she taught “play the piano”. This short legged little dog would jump on the piano bench and would even know to play the high notes or the low notes. I would love to teach my dogs some of the tricks mentioned above, such as twirl or shake their entire body, but having four large dogs makes things incredibly difficult. Or maybe I need to try harder.

  6. We’ve kind of taught the crawl (“Scoot!”). My dog knows “circle” and “spin” also. I didn’t watch the video of Remy yet, but we taught our dog by luring with a treat. It turns out one direction is often harder for a dog than the other; mine was Zoolander for awhile! One of the staff at our favorite pet store taught her to catch, and I expanded on that with “go long!” I’ve taught her “touch” and we’ve lately started doing a jump to touch so she has to jump up a little to bump my palm with her nose. She thinks that is fun.

      1. Our trainer has said that just like humans, sometimes dogs have a dominant side, and turning in one direction is therefore easier. I can see that play out with “circle” (she turns to her left) being easier than “spin” (a turn to her right), and then “heel” (finish left from a front) was easier than an “around” (finish right). Often with a long dog like a German Shepherd, the “around” is easier in a tight space, but she prefers a finish to the left, so that’s what we do.

  7. Cookie is really great picking up tricks. One I am not being able to get through to her with, though, and that’s roll-over. She doesn’t just offer it and I can’t find a way of explaining to her what I want. Ideas?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s a hard one for them. Usually people break it into steps like first have them on their side, then roll onto their back and then all the way over. I can’t even remember what I did with Ace but I think that’s what I did. He is awkward and doesn’t like doing it either. I think it’s gotten uncomfortable for him now.

  8. Been trying to teach Poshi how to walk on its hind legs. Now that she is 3 years old, it is getting tougher to teach her how to do that. But I successfully managed to teach her to kiss me!

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Ace is too “top heavy” for that. Ha! Remy can do it, but for now I need to encourage him to keep front paws on the ground.

  9. Just got a new mini aussie puppy, Wilson. So, I really enjoy your blog on new tricks. He is so smart and anxious to please. Love all your many areas of interest that you post. Looking forward to new things as he grows.

  10. Love the video, that’s exactly how I taught my previous dogs to crawl. But with Laika it was so easy – for some reason the way she greets us when we come home by crawling on the floor so we just started saying ‘crawl’ along with it. I swear it’s like she’s groveling.

  11. Sandy Weinstein

    my oldest knows lots of tricks, but the 2 younger girls, which i have not worked as much with only know a few. i need to start working with them more. thanks for the pointers.

  12. Ha ha, I’m not much of trick person. Mostly I just care that my dog listens to me, the only trick my dog knows is “show me your belly” then she’ll flip over on to her back. Dumbest trick ever!

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