Fading the body movements

When you are confident that your dog has associated the word to the behaviour, the challenge is for your dog to be able to perform the entire trick just using the command.

To build to this finale, your need to fade your body movements so that you can remain in a single position when you ask your dog to perform the trick.

The key steps to fading your body movement are:

  • Choose a location to stand. This should be close enough to the step that you can reach over your dog’s head when its standing on the step. Use the command for your dog to start the trick
  • When your dog stands on the step, keep using your command and reward as soon as it starts moving around the step on its own.
  • When rewarding, place your hand so that your dog must face away from you to get the reward. As your dog knows that it must keep its front paws on the step it will have to move its back end around towards you to be able to get the reward. Keep using the command whilst you are doing this.
  • Slowly fade the number or rewards that you are giving by only rewarding when your dog does progressively larger turns. As you fade the rewards also start lifting your hand away from your dog, to fade the luring hand. However, still use subtle hand movements to encourage your dog to turning.
  • Keep building the distance that your dog moves until it can do nearly a full revolution coming round to meet you in a Heel and Side position.
  • Finally step back so your dog can do a full revolution without coming to a stop against your legs

We cover these steps in the final video for this Trick with Emily and Leo.

Once your dog has learnt this trick, you can use a wide variety of objects as the target for its front paws. It is a fun trick to practice whilst out on a walk where you can use tree stumps or rocks provided its safe enough for your dog to walk around them.

Another good challenge would be to use a football as a perch to encourage your dog to develop its balance skills with its front paws. However, be careful this is very difficult, so I suggest you gradually introduce an unstable perch before introducing the ball. I suggest you start by introducing a balance cushion that you gradually inflate more whilst your dog is gaining more experience and confidence with an unstable surface. Remember the more air in the balance cushion the less stable the perch it becomes, hence the more balance your dog will need to develop. Only when you dog is confident with the balance cushion can you introduce the ball.

Build the rotation and add a word

As your dog starts to become comfortable with the trick, start building the number of steps that it takes before offering the rewards. Set yourself goals of being able to turn 90 degrees in both directions. Then increase this to 180, 270 and then finally 360 degrees.

In the following video with Leo, Emily turns increasing further with Leo. Remember that its highly probable that you will not progress with your own dog as quickly as this. Leo is used to learning and offering behaviours so tends to pick up tricks very quickly.

You can start to introduce a word to the behaviour once your dog is smoothly turning around the step in both directions. In the next video Katy has the right level of understanding of what is expected of her for Emily to start introducing the word, in this case “Elephant”.


It’s time to make your dog’s back paws part to the trick too! Dogs often struggle with tricks involving their back paws therefore we decided to introduce those tricks later in the school and we are going to develop the skills gradually, starting off with one of the easy tricks.

The Elephant trick is so called because it is a trick that was often performed by Elephants in circuses. It involves your dog standing on and object with its front paws (the “On it” trick) and then moving its back paws laterally (in abduction and adduction) to circle around the object with its back end.

It is an extension of the “On it” trick but it trains your dog to become proficient to use its hind-legs appropriately to turn around the perch. You will find out that some dogs can turn better one way than another.

To encourage your dog to move its back paws whilst its front paws are on an object:

  • position yourself next to your dog’s side
  • With a treat in your hand, to lure your dog’s head to the side than you want it to start turning. So, to turn clockwise around the object turn your dog’s head to the right.
  • With your leg that is directly next to your dog’s side very gently touch your dog’s side. You are not trying to force your dog to turn by pushing it with your leg but just encouraging it to move its hind legs.
  • As soon as your dog makes a sideways step with its hind legs use your Yes marker and reward. Some dogs really struggle so just one step should be enough to mark and reward, don’t be too hasty!
  • Gradually build the number of steps your dog takes before giving the reward. When your dog takes a step you also need to take a step to follow their movement.
  • Remember work in both directions. Like the Roll Over Trick, you will probably find your dog is much better turning in one direction than the other.

The following video is of Mozzie’s first attempt at the Elephant trick