Feet – Fading the rewards

The last step is to start fading the reward. As with previous tricks you have learnt you dog should be able to do the trick without you having a visible toy or food.

If your dog is food focused, start reducing the frequency of the rewards.  You may also want to consider using a different type of food that has a higher value to your dog. Using a tastier treat less often can be used to offset not giving less tastier treats more often. In addition, hide the food pouch or surprise you dog by getting the food from a location it is not expecting.

For dogs that are toy focused, progressively use toys that are smaller, so they become less visible. Reduce to a toy small enough that you can hide it in your hand as, just as with food, your dog needs to learn not to only perform the trick when it sees the toy.

With time, for either food or toy, I start to change the frequency and type of the reward. I might reward once with a piece of food and the next time with just a voice praise or a cuddle. I make the type of reward unpredictable so my dog never knows when the super jackpot reward will be used.

With time, the trick by itself becomes a reward.

Feet – Increasing the Arousal

Remember the DUDE principle?

For each trick we start to develop in your dog the desire to work with you and try the trick, then until your dog understands and is able to perfom the trick you need to work in a calm environment with little distraction.

The next stage is Duration and Accuracy. Duration has already been introduced by adding a Walk to Feet.

Improving the accuracy for the Feet trick can be achieved by increasing the excitement of your dog.  The goal is for your dog to be eager to perform the trick. This will increase the speed of your dog to come in position and, in turn, it will require more self-control to achieve the position. As such your dog will learn to become more accurate with its positioning.

The other positive aspect of playing with your dog arousal levels is to get a sharper / faster reaction to come in position as soon as your dog hears the verbal cue.

Note: with Manouk we increased his arousal level with a toy, but for a food orientated dogs, this can be done by using a higher value food.

If your dog is too excited and can not perform the trick, you need to learn to only modulate its arousal to a level it can work. My advise is to revert back to a low arousal situation first and slowly build the arousal levels.

This is a second video illustrating Manouk try to control his impulse whilst working when more aroused.


Up to now, you have taught your dog independent tricks, but tricks start to look amazing when you can start chaining them together. Over the next 2 weeks you are going to start to do just that.

Chaining simply means following one trick with another one in a chain. Chaining is the secret to teaching complex tricks: you split the trick in smaller easier tricks and then you combine them together.

To start with you will need to reward for each independent tricks in the chain, but will progress to only rewarding the final trick.

Your first chained trick is going to be “Feet” which combines both the “On it” and “Middle” tricks.

To start get started

  • Turn your feet so that your toes are pointing inwards.
  • Use your Middle command to get your dog to come between your legs
  • As soon as your dog is in the middle position use your On It command to ask your dog to put its front paws on your feet.

You may find that when you ask your dog for the “On It” that it may only put one of its paws onto one of your feet. The quick tip for enticing your dog to place a paw on both of your feet is for you to subtly shift where you are providing the reward whilst still asking your dog for the “On It”. Try to give the reward high enough so your dog has to move his second paw off the ground to get the treat. If, for example, your dog has not placed a paw on your left foot, slightly lean and offer the reward to your left side. As your dog’s head moves towards the left for the reward its more likely to lift and place its left paw.

As your dog begins to understand that it needs to place its front paws on top of your feet, you can start decreasing the angle that you are turning your feet. Ultimately your feet should be pointing forwards with your dog still placing its paws.

When your dog clearly understands the required behaviour, start to introduce a word to associate to this. This word will become the single command that will replace both the Middle and On It commands

To introduce the word, ask your dog for the “On It” and as soon as it has both paws on your feet give the new word and reward.

The final step that you will add to complete the trick is for you to walk forwards whilst your dog has its front paws on top of your feet. I tend to have a verbal cue, such as “walk” to make sure my dog is getting ready to walk .

Emily demonstrates all these steps in the following video with Manouk.