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.

Tricks for Treats with good manners

As your dog can now use its front paws to push on a buzzer, you can start having some fun by introducing a second buzzer so your dog uses one specific buzzer for the “Please” and the other one for “Thank you” when requesting a treat!

Quiz time!

It is now time to introduce your dog to a Quiz Buzzer!

We are going to transfer your dogs behaviour from putting a front paw on a target, to putting a paw on a buzzer that will produce a sound. As introduced in the Getting prepared for your first day topic, I like using battery operated quiz buzzers for this. The buzzers are relatively cheap for a set of four and you end up with four distinct sounds to choose from. It is possible to use a metal desk bell for this trick, but this is slightly harder to use as your dog has to be very accurate to always hit it exactly on the top. I would also shy away from using the desk bell as it can have some hard edges which may injure your dog if they press down hard on it.

Before we start asking our dog to start working with the Buzzer, the first step is to get them used to the sound. The Trick is meant to be fun, so we do not want to upset or scare your dog!

  • Let your dog get used to the sound made by the buzzer by activating it in your hands whilst your dog is around you.
  • When it is time to start placing the buzzer on the floor, try to place it on a non-slip surface or, if possible, use some blu-tack to fasten it to the floor. This is to help your dog press the buzzer cleanly without it moving when they press it. It can also help prevent some dogs pawing at the buzzer if they become excited.
  • As in the previous topic, sit in front of your dog and place the buzzer on the floor between you and your dog.
  • Using your “Please” and “Thank You” commands to tell your dog which paw to use; your dog should now push on the buzzer. Reward as soon as it does.
  • When your dog is consistently placing a paw on the buzzer on command, start working the trick whilst you are standing up. Start to introduce some distance and send your dog to the buzzer. You will use body cues help indicate where the buzzer is to lure your dog towards it.
  • When working at distance it is important to reward quickly when your dog correctly presses the buzzer. If not, it is possible that your dog will become unsure that it has done the trick correctly and will start swapping paws and repeatedly pressing the buzzer.

If your dog becomes over excited performing this trick, it will start to become less accurate. Both your dog and you need to remain calm. Get your dog to sit and wait or get its attention before asking it to perform the trick.

When you can keep your dog calm this will allow you to start moving relative to your dog’s position and the buzzer. From many positions you will not be able to use body cues to help your dog to the buzzer which increases the difficultly level as we describe in the next video.

Pawing a Target

This week you will be taking the Front Paw Targeting tricks a stage further by teaching your dog to target individual smaller targets with their paws. The overall aim is to have your dog put a single paw on a specific object on command.

You will need a object to use as a target that has a bit of height to it. It needs to be small enough in diameter to avoid your dog trying to put both of its front paws on it. The screw top off an old coffee jar would be ideal.

The first step is to encourage your dog to put either of its front paws on the object. You are going to do this primarily using the verbal cues you previously taught to your dog to give each of its front paws.

  • Sit on the floor facing your dog; your dog should also be sitting.
  • Place the target on the floor close to your dog’s front paws. As a rough guide the Target should be vertically below your dog’s nose. There should be a slightly larger gap between yourself and the Target to encourage your dog to reach forwards when it gives a paw.
  • Your dog may well start investigating the object with its nose and think that you are working a push trick. To avoid this, show your dog that you have a treat in your hand and raise this up to entice your dog to lift its head from the target.
  • Use the “Please” and “Thank You” commands that you taught your dog in the Give a Paw Trick to encourage it to lift one of its paws off the floor. Make sure your dog is lifting the correct paw in response to the command you use!
  • Although you are primarily using the verbal commands you can use slight body movement cues to help your dog, but these must be subtle.
  • As your dog lowers it paw, if it touches the object click or use your Yes maker and reward. Only reward when your dog touches the object, do not reward if your dog offered the correct paw and then placed it back in the floor without touching the target.
  • Remain calm with your dog. Have your dog sit between each attempt. This will avoid you having the situation where your dog starts becoming over excited and quickly offering random paws as it tries to figure out what you are asking it to do.

In the following video, Emily & Leo demonstrate how to start putting a paw on the target. Notice how Emily keeps Leo calm by making him sit and wait between asking him to give a paw with her “Please” & “Thank You” cues. Also, note how Emily uses very subtle body cues when required to help Leo.