Tricks for Treats with good manners

As your dog can now use its front paws to push on a buzzer, you can start having some fun by introducing a second buzzer so your dog uses one specific buzzer for the “Please” and the other one for “Thank you” when requesting a treat!

Quiz time!

It is now time to introduce your dog to a Quiz Buzzer!

We are going to transfer your dogs behaviour from putting a front paw on a target, to putting a paw on a buzzer that will produce a sound. As introduced in the Getting prepared for your first day topic, I like using battery operated quiz buzzers for this. The buzzers are relatively cheap for a set of four and you end up with four distinct sounds to choose from. It is possible to use a metal desk bell for this trick, but this is slightly harder to use as your dog has to be very accurate to always hit it exactly on the top. I would also shy away from using the desk bell as it can have some hard edges which may injure your dog if they press down hard on it.

Before we start asking our dog to start working with the Buzzer, the first step is to get them used to the sound. The Trick is meant to be fun, so we do not want to upset or scare your dog!

  • Let your dog get used to the sound made by the buzzer by activating it in your hands whilst your dog is around you.
  • When it is time to start placing the buzzer on the floor, try to place it on a non-slip surface or, if possible, use some blu-tack to fasten it to the floor. This is to help your dog press the buzzer cleanly without it moving when they press it. It can also help prevent some dogs pawing at the buzzer if they become excited.
  • As in the previous topic, sit in front of your dog and place the buzzer on the floor between you and your dog.
  • Using your “Please” and “Thank You” commands to tell your dog which paw to use; your dog should now push on the buzzer. Reward as soon as it does.
  • When your dog is consistently placing a paw on the buzzer on command, start working the trick whilst you are standing up. Start to introduce some distance and send your dog to the buzzer. You will use body cues help indicate where the buzzer is to lure your dog towards it.
  • When working at distance it is important to reward quickly when your dog correctly presses the buzzer. If not, it is possible that your dog will become unsure that it has done the trick correctly and will start swapping paws and repeatedly pressing the buzzer.

If your dog becomes over excited performing this trick, it will start to become less accurate. Both your dog and you need to remain calm. Get your dog to sit and wait or get its attention before asking it to perform the trick.

When you can keep your dog calm this will allow you to start moving relative to your dog’s position and the buzzer. From many positions you will not be able to use body cues to help your dog to the buzzer which increases the difficultly level as we describe in the next video.