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 five tricks?
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 Lindsay@ThatMutt.com.)
Julia Thomson is a regular writer for That Mutt. Visit her blog Home on 129 Acres here.