Push Part 1: Summary

This week you will have worked on 3 tricks, all related to nose targeting

  • Pushing on your hand
  • Pushing on an object held within or as an extension to your hand
  • Pushing on an object that has been placed on the floor

These tricks will be needed to progress to another stage so make sure you have a strong foundation.

If you dog already has a knowledge of these tricks, do not be complacent, try to work on the environment, distraction, duration, and distance this well be very useful further on in the school.

Some Useful links

Collars, Leads, Long Leads & Bandanas

If you are interested in a new Lead, Long lead or even a fancy personalised Bandana for your dog , I would recommend you take a visit to Sharon’s Craft Cabin. All items are handmade, available in a wide variety of designs and are made from natural materials. If you are looking for something specific contact Sharon directly and discuss your requirements with her.


If you are interested in toys for your dogs, I would recommend tug-e-nuff

tug-e-nuff is a global company which has some particularly good tuggies (and other toys too). If you use the code K9PAWS you should get a discount on all the toys from their own brand (So if you browse through their site, make sure to choose to browse through the brand option).

The discount should also be applicable anytime even after the school is finished so I advise you to keep the details.

A final thought before we begin

The two of the most fundamental things you will need to when teaching your dog tricks are not tangible objects, but without them you will not succeed or enjoy the training experience. These are ‘Motivation’ and ‘Patience’. Each dog has a different character, some dogs will understand what you are trying to teach them very quickly, for others, it will seem like they just do not understand the plot. Stay motivated and be patient, the rewards are worth the effort.

When working through the topics in this course it is important to remember that just because we may have been able to demonstrate several steps in a short video does not mean it will only take a few minutes to teach the Trick. To show you the key aspects to training a trick there may have been many hours training that have been distilled down to a few minutes. Please do not get disheartened if you find it takes a long time to work through some of the tricks with your own dog.

How to reward

How and when should you be rewarding your dog?

  • The click or/and the Yes command marker should happen right at the time your dog is performing the correct/desired behaviour or is making the correct choice.
  • To start with, the reward should arrive very quickly after the click. It does not have to be exactly at the same time as the marker, there can be a second or two of delay. With time, a longer delay can be used between the marker and reward.
  • To give value to a behaviour/object/position/zone always give the reward in the area/object/ zone or position you would like to reinforce. For example, reward a sit behaviour whilst the dog is sitting, do not reward it once it has stood up again.

More about Shaping and Clicker training

It is common to use a clicker when Shaping. With shaping your dog needs a clear indicator to be confident that the behaviour it is offering is what was expected.  The indicator also indicates that a reward is coming, this will help build your dog’s grit and focus.

The clicker, is what is commonly used as a marker; it is a highly effective way to communicate information to your dog for the following reasons:

  • The clicker has a sharp, consistent, and neutral sound
  • The clicker provides clear and consistent information that the dog has given the correct behaviour and therefore is right. As handlers if we use verbal commands, we tend to switch words or voice intonation
  • The clicker provides information that a reward is coming. Remember that the reward should be small and healthy.

Shaping requires skills that you will develop over time. However, remember that if you want to progress your dog should enjoy learning. The training session should be fun and not too difficult, it is all about playing games. With shaping each step toward the final behaviour should be entertaining and relatively easy.

The exercise should be easy enough that the reward comes quickly to keep your dog entertained and focused. If not, your dog may lose its confidence or become distracted, bored, or frustrated and will either give up or just offer a random set of behaviours. This also means that you need to adapt the difficulty of the exercise and the criteria to your dog’s focus and understanding of the exercise.

What if you do not have or do not like the clicker, how do you train?

Firstly, I would advise you to try and persevere with using a clicker; with time you may start to like it. However, if you really cannot or do not like it, it is not the end of the world. There are other options but from experience a clicker is often best.

If you do not want to use the clicker or do not have the clicker available at least use the verbal command “Yes”.

  • Yes, is short
  • Yes, is consistent
  • Yes, is handy when you do not have the clicker with you

I use Yes whilst I click during most of my training sessions so that when I do not have my clicker to hand or when I phase out the clicker, my dogs understand the Yes command as well.

Try to keep a consistent tone with your Yes command as your dog may interpret a low pitch or high pitch Yes command differently; this cannot happen with a clicker as the click is a consistent sound.

Using “Good boy/girl” or “Clever Boy/Girl” is a no go to mark a behaviour simply because we use it in too many other situations. The expression is therefore not a consistent marker. As it is difficult to get away from the “Good boy” expression (we keep on forgetting), I would advise you to say Yes first at the same time as the behaviour and then add “Good boy/girl”.

The three most common techniques to train a dog

There are various ways to teach a dog a game or a behaviour. The most common ones are Luring, Shaping, and Capturing. During a training session, I will mix the 3 techniques depending on what I want to achieve and what is required to keep the sessions entertaining for my dog.

For the Tricks for Treats School, some games and tricks are easier trained with Luring and others with Shaping. For some, you will probably require a mix a bit of both


Luring is the easiest technique to train a dog and it is probably the easiest one for beginner handlers. With Luring you can achieve results quite quickly, so it is rewarding for the handler and there is little pressure placed on the dog.

Luring is simply using a piece of food in your hand to guide your dog through the desired behaviour. Your dog, attracted by the food, will follow your hand.

The most common lure used in training is food, but you can also use a toy or anything else you would like so long as your dog will focus and follow your guidance for a long enough period.

Luring can greatly aid the learning experience of your dog and reduce the risk of frustration for both of you as the technique requires minimal problem solving on your dog’s part.

The difficulty with luring arises when it is time to fade the lure as dogs quickly become dependent on the lure to perform the behaviour. Expecting a dog to suddenly perform the behaviour just on a verbal cue is a huge step.

How can you fade the lure?

It is best to start fading the lure as soon as possible during the learning process. There are different techniques to fade the lure:

  • Making the lure less and less accessible and rewarding less often
  • Keeping a treat in the hand you are luring with but rewarding with the other hand
  • Keeping the hand movement but “faking” it with no treat in the hand

Another option is to switch to shaping as soon as your dog understands the basics of the behaviour and mix a little bit of luring with shaping.


Shaping requires your dog to think and concentrate. Shaping relies on your dog trying to solve a problem rather than being shown the solution with Luring. Your dog will need to think and offer different behaviours and you will guide the process using a marker and a reward for each small step that takes the dog closer to the solution. The markers I use are either the clicker or a “Yes” command. In summary, the dog must figure out which behaviour will lead to a reward.

As an example, to teach your dog to push his nose on your hand using only shaping, you would increase the criteria before using your marker the following way:

  • Mark and reward first when your dog simply looks at your hand
  • Mark and reward when your dog brings its nose next to your hand
  • Mark and reward when the dog’s nose touches your hand

The main problem with shaping occurs when the handler tries to progress too quickly with a difficult behaviour; the dog will get confused and frustrated and will give up. As a handler, you need to really help your dog and only raise the criteria very slowly.

You will need to be very patient, observant and have good timing when marking a specific behaviour, so the dog does not get confused. You also need to be very encouraging especially with a dog who tends to have less confidence or less motivation.

Shaping is fun to watch and play with your dog and the technique really helps developing great problem-solving dogs.


Capturing is when you wait for your dog to offer a behaviour naturally and when it does you use your Marker and a reward to indicate to your dog that it has done a behaviour you like.

When your dog understands the principle of “Click” = “Reward” from the shaping techniques, capturing full, natural behaviours can be remarkably effective.

In essence shaping is capturing micro behaviours that slowly progress towards a full behaviour, whilst with capturing you only capture the end behaviour that is offered naturally by the dog.

To capture a behaviour, you need to be both opportunistic and alert. As soon as your dog offers the behaviour you like, you click and reward. In some cases, you may well find it is not a behaviour you wanted to train for, but your dog is offering it and you like it so just grab the opportunity, click and reward.

Do not restrict yourself by only using capturing during a training session; I often use capturing any time during the day when I see my dog perform a behaviour I like.

Two behaviours that are extremely easy to capture are the play bow position and the chin on the floor. With the play bow, I tend to have an idea when during the day my dog may offer it to me, and I just capture it at the moment; Usually this is when my dog wants to get me to play with him.

Joining the Facebook support group

It is now time for you to join the Facebook CANINE Pawsibilities Tricks for Treats School community

Joining the CANINE Pawsibilities Tricks for Treats School Facebook Support Group

  • Follow this link, it will take you to the Facebook support group page:
    Tricks for Treats
  • Send a request to join the group; you will be asked about the email address you have used to register to the class.
  • You will be also asked for the group password when sending the request which is: CPT4TS (please do not send your login password!)
  • Before being able to access the group, you will have to wait until we have accepted your request. This is not an automated process so please be patient as it may take a day or so for us to do this.

Et voila, that was easy! You now have joined our community and I am looking forward to meeting you within the Facebook support group.

Advice for posting videos and asking questions

If you post a video or a question that requests my special attention please add the tag #FEEDBACK so I can easily identify these posts.

Please keep any videos that you post to under 3 minutes in length and add the week you are currently working on in the description.

Tricks for Treats – Introduction

Welcome to the CANINE Pawsibilities family and thank you for enrolling in the Tricks for TreatsBeginner’s School.

In many languages and cultures there is a proverb that says:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Do not fall into the trap of believing this! If the correct stimuli and motivation is provided, dogs of any age or breed can be taught to perform tricks! Older dogs may take a while longer to master a new trick than a younger dog, or the trick may need to be adapted to the physical ability of the senior dog, but the experience for both the dog and handler is just as rewarding. In fact, teaching tricks to an older dog can provide important mental stimulation as they become less physically active.

As with any type of training, developing your foundations are key. The Tricks for Treats school will introduce all the necessary building blocks for you and your dog to be able to progress on to achieve complex and jaw dropping tricks.

During the 12-weeks of this school, all weeks are not the equal. In some weeks we will introduce the steps for a complete trick and others we introduce the building blocks to a more complex trick that we will work towards in future weeks.

Although the topics in this course are delivered over a 12-week period, do not panic! You will have access to the course a full year so you can progress at your own pace and revisit any of the topics.

There is a lot of information to take in from the videos and discussions. As such there is a good chance that you may find it takes you longer than a single week to work on and master the trick or behaviours that have been introduced. Take your time to build solid foundations. Do not rush or skip the stages, do not feel pressurised because the course content is delivered over 12 weeks.

If you think your dog already knows all the games or tricks covered in one of the weeks, try to improve on the game or trick to make it even better. You could even share the improvements you have made via the Facebook group! Make sure your dog fully understands what you are asking it to do.

If you or your dog struggle with some aspect presented during a week, do not give up or get disheartened. This is totally normal. It is more than likely that your dog will understand and be able to perform some of the tricks very quickly, whilst it may will struggle with others. If this happens, do not get frustrated; Enjoy the journey!

There are different reasons why you may find progress more slowly or struggle with some of the tricks:

  • Some of the tricks are simply harder than others
  • Some dogs will find certain behaviours more natural to perform than others; this can be dog and breed dependent.

Over the 12 weeks of the Tricks for Treats school, we will be working on over 25 tricks with you which can be divided in 6 groups:

  • Nose targeting
  • Mouth targeting
  • Chin targeting
  • Foreleg targeting
  • Hind leg targeting
  • Body awareness

All the games and tricks you will be learning during this school are keys to teaching your dog all the building blocks to perform any complex trick in the future.

Each week of the School can be considered as introducing a new trick. However, certain tricks are too complex to be introduced fully within one week, so they have been split over multiple weeks to give you time to build the foundation steps. Some will also require your dog to learn to chain together a series the previously learned tricks to produce a more complicated trick

Getting prepared for your first day

What you will need for the Trick School

Unlike some activities, teaching your dog to perform a wide array of tricks does not require access to, or investment in specialised or expensive equipment. It is possible to teach a trick to a dog in most environments and using toys you may well already own (sorry, I mean that your dog already owns!) or objects that are close to hand.

During this course we will be using a variety of items, for example:

  • A Clicker. I do advise to use a clicker but, it is not mandatory – These are easy to find on Amazon or e-bay.
  • Various objects for your dog to hold such as:
    • Plastic Spoon
    • Metal Spoon
    • Assorted toys
    • Dumbbell
  • Plastic Pots
  • The plastic lid from a yoghurt pot, or something similar
  • The plastic lid from a fizzy drinks bottle
  • An electronic Quiz Buzzer (at least one) – The ones we use in some of the videos are similar to these:
  • A low Yoga block, Block of Wood, or a footstool. These should be no higher than your dog’s wrist
  • A cupboard door (we all have one!); Not that for ease of videoing we will be using a metallic dog crate with a door instead when teaching the trick that requires this.

Without a doubt you will be using lots of treats throughout this course. As you do not want to overfeed your dog, you will need to take the food allowance for the training out of the daily food allowance of your dog.

You may find a Treat Pouch useful for your training sessions. The treats you use need to be easily accessible when you need to reward your dog, so you maintain your dog’s focus. If possible, I would advise using a pouch similar to the ones below.

It is time to introduce ourselves

Once you have joined the Facebook group, it is time to introduce your dog to the group so that we all get to know each other!

As you all know me by now, I do not need to introduce myself again; however, it is time to introduce the other stars of the Tricks for Treats school.

This course has been developed in collaboration with Emily Anderson and her 3 dogs, Phoebe, Katie, and Leo. Emily is an incredibly talented dog trainer. She started training dogs when she was just 12 years old with her spaniel Sooty. Emily is also an accomplished agility and flyball competitor.



Phoebe is a highly active 5-year-old spaniel. She enjoys competing in agility and flyball and has also recently started scent work. Phoebe enjoys most things in life and is very easily pleased. She is particularly fond of swimming and long walks but is also equally happy to snuggle up on the sofa!


Katie is a 10-year-old toy poodle. Her favourite things in life are her squeaky ball, beach walks and sunbathing! She enjoys competing in agility and flyball, providing it is not raining as she hates getting her feet wet!


Leo is a very active 2-year-old spaniel; If you thought spaniels have high a energy level, Leo is in a different league. Leo has a phenomenal ability to quickly learn tricks and complex behaviours and work out challenges that are presented to him. Although yet to compete, Leo has a huge talent for Agility and is also learning scent work.

Leo lost all his confidence following an illness which required emergency treatment at the vets. He physically recovered very quickly but mentally it took him a little longer. His love of learning and doing tricks has greatly helped in his recovery and getting his confidence back


Vera is a 1.5-year-old Flat Coated Retriever. Like all ‘flatties’ she is a big goofy puppy at heart with lots and lots of energy. Vera finds most things very exciting and is particularly keen on treats, other dog friends and squeaky toys. She loves learning new tricks and playing games. Vera first worked with Canine Pawsibilities at just 16 weeks old and has since completed the Puppy and Junior schools. She is now learning Hoopers.


Manouk is my amazing teammate. Manouk is loving coming out of retirement to act as a movie star. At the time we recorded the videos for the Tricks for Treats School he was 14 years and 3 months old. It reminds him of his famous Agility competition days at Crufts and Olympia. Manouk is still loving learning new tricks, his face lights up as soon as I get the clicker out.   


Mozzie’s first passion is sheepherding, although he has also competed in Agility Competitions. Although Mozzie has always played with toys, he has never actually been taught any Tricks before becoming involved in the recording for this course. At the age of 12 he is loving learning a new skill proving that there are no reasons not to teach a new skill to a “mature” dog.