Down, Take it, Chin and more

When building your trick sequences, start using any of the core tricks you have learnt so far. Get used to chaining the individual tricks in lots of different orders to come up with fun sequences. As you get adept at building more complicated sequences you will find that the transitions between them will start to become seamless. Use your imagination develop and apply what you have learnt to come up with new tricks.

Bow and Chin

Another simple trick to start developing your chaining skills is to start with the “Bow” and then chain this with the “Chin” to the floor.

Emily shows how to achieve this with Phoebe and Leo in the next short video.

Chin on the floor

The “Chin on the floor” Trick is a variation of the “Chin in the hand” trick you learned previously. Instead of holding their chin on your hand, your dog is required to lower its chin to the floor. For this trick you can use either Shaping or Capturing.

Using Capturing:

Some dogs have a natural chin on the floor behaviour. You will often see a puppy or dog in a play position doing a chin naturally, some border collies also offer the behaviour naturally whilst lying down. When I work with such dogs, I tend to be ready with my clicker and wait for the dog to offer the behaviour. As soon as it does, I click and reward in position. Usually, these types of dog very quickly get the idea that putting their chin on the floor results in a treat. If you do not have your clicker use your Yes marker. You can even say nothing but simply offer a reward. Saying nothing will reduce the excitement if you are trying to calm your dog. Reward low to the ground and, if possible, in position (Chin on the floor) so you give value for the position.

Using Shaping:

To use shaping your dog needs to understand the “Chin on the Hand” trick first. When you dog understands “Chin on the hand” then gradually lower your hand down to the floor until your hand is touching the floor. When you have achieved this, slowly fade away your hand. Always reward low and when your dog is in the position, so you give value to the position.

Gradually lengthen the time before you give the reward to build some duration to the position.

Aoifa responded very quickly to the transfer from the hand target to putting her head on the floor, but it is more likely that it will take you days before your dog fully understands.

Tip: some dogs struggle to switch from targeting the hand on the floor to placing their chin on the floor without any hand target. One trick is to fade the hand for a square lid or a thin piece of cardboard and then keep reducing the size of the target with time. If you are struggling to choose a word for this trick you could call it “Head Down” or “Floor”. For Aoifa, Heidi has started to use “Chin” for the head on the floor position

Chin in the Hand

The goal of the Chin in the hand trick, as its name suggests, is to have your dog calmly place its chin in the palm your open hand and then relax. I use this trick as a calming exercise in the Junior School as it helps calm excitable and wriggly dogs. The Chin in the Hand trick has the added benefit that it can help stop your dog barking too!

To teach the Chin in the Hand trick you will be using the Luring technique with food as I will demonstrate and discuss in the next video with Vera & Robyn.

The key technique to a teaching a successful Chin in the Hand is to simply Lure your dog’s head over the hand you want it to place its chin on and then lower the other hand you are holding the treat in. In doing so, your dog will lower its head into your hand to follow the treat, you should really feel the weight of your dog’s head on your hand. When your dog’s Chin in resting in your hand say Yes, and then reward.

Tip: Placing the Chin in the hand is quite natural for some dogs but some others are less inclined to do so and may just place their chin above the hand but will not actually place the chin on the hand. For dogs that are hesitant, use a higher value reward or even one of their favourite toys as the lure and lower the lure until they place the chin in the hand.

Once your dog is happily placing its Chin in your hand, start to build duration by incrementally marking and rewarding later. You will start to notice a moment of stillness from your dog whilst you are hold its chin in your hand. Also make sure that you can really fill the weight of your dog’s head in your hand.

As you saw in the previous two videos, Vera was very keen to get the treat and pushing to get to the treat hand. By rewarding later, Robin was able to get Vera perform the trick much more calmly and hold the pose for much longer as shown in the following video.