On it – Increasing Distance

The next goal is to gradually place the platform away from you and at various positions in relation to you.

When your dog is learning to go to the object, in addition to the verbal cues “On it”, you can also use your body position to help your dog assume the correct position.

When you start to introduce the distance, do not forget to mark with a “Click” or a “Yes” when your dog has managed the trick and to start with always go to reward it in position to give value to the position.

If your dog already knows the “On it” trick, this is really the stage you should be concentrating on this week: Increasing the distance and the position of the platform compared to you. Also take your platform in to various environments, for example your garden, so your dog gets really good at generalising the trick.

Teaching your dog to Bow

A Bow is when your dog drops its front elbows to the floor but remains standing on its hind legs. It is a common behaviour that most puppies and dogs perform, especially when they are playing. What we are going to cover in this topic is how to get your dog to bow on command.

There are two ways that I commonly use to teach a dog to bow on command, one is using Capturing and the second is using Luring

To use Capturing simply use your clicker and reward your dog every time you see it naturally perform the behaviour. As noted above, this will commonly occur when you are playing with your dog, or when your dog wants to engage you in a play, so have your clicker and treats ready. As soon as your dog Bows, Click or say Yes and try to reward in the position to give value to the position. Ideally place the reward in between your dog’s two front legs.

Some dogs are not as natural at bowing than others and with such dogs, using Luring is often a better option.

To use Luring to teach the bow you are going to need to use a piece of food that you place between their two front legs.

  • Make sure you have a good high value treat in your hand.
  • Start with the treat near to your dog’s nose so you get its interest, so it will want to follow your hand to get the treat.
  • As shown by the blue arrow in the image below, lower your hand slowly to the floor but at the same time, move it between your dog’s front legs. The speed of movement should be slow enough that you dog can follow your hand’s movement with his nose
  • Once your dog is in the Bow position, reward with multiple treats.
  • When you dog understands the trick, introduce the “Bow” verbal cue to it.

In the following video, we demonstrate and discuss in more detail how to teach the bow using both the Capturing and Luring techniques

When you dog understands the verbal cue, you can gradually progress the trick by getting your dog to perform it in the following different scenarios:

  • Whilst you are standing next to your dog instead of kneeling
  • While you are in a different environment, for example in your garden or in the local park.
  • Get your dog to perform the trick during a lead walk
  • Try to see if your dog will do the trick whilst your back is turned to it, so it does not have eye contact with you; this is a hard one!

On it – Generalising to any target object

Once that your dog is consistently placing its front paws on an object when you use the On It command, it is time to start generalising the behaviour so that your dog understands to put its front paws on a variety of objects on command.

In the next video we introduce several different objects to Manouk including some that are not level or stable. The size of the object(s) can also start to be reduced and ultimately individual small objects used for each front paw.

Towards the end of the previous video, you saw Manouk standing upon some Paw Pods. These were used to encourage Manouk to stand on two small independent objects. There is no need to buy these specialised training aids for this trick, you can simply use some small plastic pots that have been turned upside down (some people have used 2 cans of tuna with some anti slip tape!). If you have a small dog, you will need to find two objects that allow your dog to stand comfortably, keeping its front legs straight under its body.

On it – Luring your dog to put its front paws on a target

The objective of this trick is for your dog to place its two front paws on an flat, level platform or step. For this trick are going to mainly use the luring training technique to achieve this.

To start off with, you are going to be working to get your dog to place its two front paws on a flat, level platform or step.

Some dogs can be wary of new objects in their environment so they may need some gentle encouragement to approach and stand on them.

If your dog is very wary of approaching your chosen object, don’t force the object upon it, be patient. Give time to our dog to get familiar with the object

  • Touch and wipe the object with your hands to increase your scent on the object; You scent should have a comforting effect on your dog
  • Place some treats on the floor close to the object,
  • Place some treats on the object itself to encourage your dog to investigation the object.

We demonstrate how to work this trick in the following videos. Once again, we will demonstrate with two different dogs, Mozzie and Phoebe as it is helpful to see how dogs with different characters respond.

In this second video you will notice that Phoebe is a far more fidgety dog than Mozzie in the first video. A tip to help with fidgety dogs is to feed the rewards to them slowly. This will help to instil some calmness when they have their front paws on the object as they must learn to wait in position to get the reward.

The key aspects to progressing with this trick are:

  • Try to stay as calm as you can when working the trick. This will help keep the arousal level of your dog lower.
  • The object that you use does not need to be tall; it is used just to get your dog to have their front paws off the ground. At this stage, the surface area of the object needs to be sufficiently large for the size of dog that you are working with, so it does not struggle to keep its paws upon it.
  • Keep the reward relatively high up so your dog must lift its head and get the idea that putting its paws on the object will help it access the treat.
  • If the reward is low down, there is far a greater probability that your dog will not step on the object.
  • Do not forget to help your dog understand what you are trying to teach him by marking with a Click or a Yes as soon as your dog attempts to put its paws or even just one paw on the object.
  • Give lots of rewards when your dog has both paws on the object to encourage your dog to stay in this position
  • Give the rewards in front of your dog; you do not want your dog to have to keep turning its head towards you to get the rewards; Its head should be aligned with its back.
  • To get your dog to leave the object, simply use your release command and throw a release treat away from the object so your dog follows it. If you do not have a release command, it is time to introduce one as it is the only consistent way your dog can learn that it is not required to perform the trick any longer. Without a release command your dog will start to have to guess when the trick is over and will become inconsistent.  For example, you can use words such as Go, Break, Free, OK etc. Throwing a release treat is not a reward so you do not need to associate it with Yes or a Click. The release treat it is a lure to get your dog off the object/platform and teaches your dog to associate the word with the release behaviour.
  • In the very first stage of the trick, it is OK to throw the release treat in the same direction each time, but as soon as your dog understands the behaviour start to change where you throw the release treat so your dog learns to approach the platform from any direction the next time you do the trick.
  • When your dog is consistently putting its front paws on the object start to introduce the ‘On it‘ command.

On it – Introduction

The first of your Front Paw Targeting Tricks is going to be the ‘On it’.

I call this trick ‘On It’ as you are going to work to teach your dog to place both of its front feet on a target object. In addition to a front paw targeting trick, it is also a very good body awareness trick for dogs.

In the next video we briefly discuss the type of equipment you could use as the target object.

To summarise:

  • You do not need any expensive equipment to work this trick.
  • For safety reason, you need and object that has a non-slip surface, so your dog does not slip off the object and the object does not move
  • To start with, the object should be stable and preferably flat
  • The top of the object does not need to be high off the ground