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Dog Tricks with Treats

Treats on the Paws

This trick will teach your dog to sit still while you place a treat or dog biscuit on each front paw. Your dog should continue to sit still without dislodging the treats and should ignore the treats until you give him permission to move and eat them. So, ultimately, your dog learns that sitting still and ignoring the treats is rewarded by eating them!

Make sure your dog is doing a very good Sit Stay, and his Leave It is good. A strong Watch Me can also help.

  1. Have your dog Sit and Stay. Touch one of his front paws with your finger. Touch the top of the paw where you will eventually place the treat.
  2. If he picks up that paw, tell him, “No, Stay!”
  3. When that paw goes back down on the ground, praise him.
  4. Touch that paw again. Praise him when he leaves it on the ground.
  5. Repeat this for a total of five repetitions for each front paw. Take a break.
  6. Do not go on to the next training steps until your dog is comfortable with having the tops of his front paws touched.

  7. Have your dog Sit, tell him to Stay, and place a dog biscuit on one of his front paws.
  8. If he looks at it, tell him, “Fido, Leave It. Watch Me. Good to Watch Me!”
  9. Troubleshooting

    Some dogs are very sensitive to having their feet touched. Some are ticklish; others might have been injured. Some just are not used to it. Know your dog, and change your training to help him.

  10. Wait just a few seconds, praise him, and release him. Let him eat the treat off his paw.
  11. Repeat this for a total of five repetitions and then take a break.

Practice these training steps for several sessions over a week or more. Don't go on to the next training steps until your dog is reliable with one treat on one paw. If he's lifting his paw, knocking the treat off, trying to eat the treat, or getting up from the Sit Stay, go back to the first training steps and begin again. Take it slow and make sure you're helping him succeed. Emphasize the basic commands Sit, Stay, and Watch Me. Your dog knows those commands, so use them.

When your dog is ready for the second treat on the second paw, go ahead and add it. This one is easy because he already knows what's expected of him. Praise him as you place the first treat on the first paw, and then add the second treat on the other paw. Keep the Stay time short and sweet so your dog can succeed, and then praise and release him.

Treat on the Nose

This trick can be tough to teach because many dogs have no concept of how their head is positioned. To keep the treat on top of the nose, the dog's head must be level. Most dogs do not hold their head exactly level. However, you can teach him.

Down, Boy!

This trick is really tough for short-muzzled dogs such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs. It takes lots of practice to learn to balance on a short muzzle.

  1. Have your dog sit in front of you. You might want to sit in a chair and have his head over your lap.
  2. Place one hand under your dog's chin to gently guide him, and at the same time, place a treat on the top of his nose.
  3. Praise him, “Good boy! Stay! Good boy!”
  4. After a few seconds, release him, praise him, and let him flip the treat off his nose and eat it.
  5. Repeat for a total of five repetitions and take a break.
  6. Repeat these training steps for several days.

If your dog allows the treat to fall, tell him, “Fido, Leave It!” and pick up the treat. Do not allow him to eat a treat unless he completes the trick correctly.

When your dog is holding his head steady, begin offering less guidance under his chin. When he can hold it on his own and your help is no longer needed, take your hand away and let him balance the treat himself.

As your dog learns this trick, and realizes that he gets the treat when he completes the trick correctly, he might begin to flip the treat in the air and grab it before it hits the ground. This is a great finish to the trick but is difficult to teach. Just reward your dog when he does flip the treat (rather than allow it to slide off his nose), “Good flip! Yeah! Good boy!”

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Tricks © 2005 by Liz Palika. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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