We already talked about treats,now we talk about tricks!

Teaching your dog tricks is a fun way to bond with your dog,give them a job,help them learn to focus and see that learning can be fun!

It seems an appropriate time of year for the “Play dead” Trick:

(aka CHILL)
Teaching the ‘Dead Dog’ Trick

this trick makes you and your dog look awesome but also has the added benefits of teaching your dog to lie calm on his side on command,thus reinforcing calm body language and furthering his self control when he lays still waiting for your release word.

to begin: don’t worry about the word or hand signal till later.
have your dog in the down position.
get a tasty treat and show it to the dog.
once he is aware of the treat and while still in the down position,draw the treat back behind the dogs ears,down near his shoulders.
what we are aiming for here is for the dogs nose to turn and follow the treat without him rising up. he will eventually crane his head around over his shoulder so far,it causes his near front paw to come up and as you keep moving the treat his far side shoulder will drop to the ground. at this point you move the treat to in front of him on the floor and reward him with his face lying flat on his side along the ground. this is called ‘rewarding in position’.
if the dog will only move his head or body a certain portion before giving up on the treat or rising up out of position,then you will need to break the motion into smaller portions and reward for each stage.
ie. if he turns his head to over his shoulder and no further,reward for that and once he will easily do that try for a smidge further and then reward for that smidge each time.
working up to eventually the whole motion before giving the lure as reward.

once he will readily allow himself to be lured into the laying on his side position,reward for longer periods of laying in that position.

the next phase is adding the cue word and hand signal.

how this works is luring into position and beginning to name it as you are doing it.
ie.say” Bang!” (lure into position) then praise with”GOOD BANG!” (reward in position)
you can also add the hand signal (finger gun aimed at dog) using it first only when dog is in position,then along with cue when first requesting the trick.

from here it is a matter of time and effort .
each time you ask for the cue once you’ve begun adding the cue name and hand signal at first lure and reward right away as in the example previous,but then begin to wait after the initial request to give the dog a chance to see if he has clued in on his own yet. at first only a few seconds pause,if nothing,lure and reward in position.
repeat until you see him possibly offering a hint of laying into position.
if he gives a half roll over to his side even with head up,verbally praise and then REWARD AT THE FLOOR so he is still being rewarded in position etc.
eventually keep asking for him to step up his game and reward only the full behaviour.
verbal praise can always be given for the half good attempts,but save the treat for what you are really asking for each time.

later additions: performing from a sit,performing from a stand.
performing with you standing.
performing at a distance.
performing it for longer.
holding position while you move around.


A second description of the same trick:

this is a good trick to impress folks and teaches your dog a relaxed body posture,good for teaching a dog how to be relaxed.
you ask her to lay down first,then as demonstrated with treat lure her head around. you’ll want to keep the treat near her shoulder,so she is required to look behind her ear over her shoulder to reach the treat. go as slow as necessary to keep her following. the idea is to cause her tolean over and end up on her side. click and reward this first early stage.
if she is reluctant to twist far enough to tip over,then start smaller,click reward just her head turning to follow treat. then ask for more later on,some dogs are reluctant to lay with belly up due to insecuritys.
once she is easily follow lure to lay on her side,refine it by now only clicking when her head is lying on the floor too. to encourage this keep treat against floor by her nose and ‘reward in position’,she will learn,I only get the reward when my face is on the floor.
further refinements can be requiring :tail still and legs on floor.
to assist in the helping to learn to relax we can also refine by waiting for her to untense her muscles in her body (that ready to spring up look) and click reward only then.
once this is achieved begin to use the cue word BANG!
once this gets pretty good add the hand signal. alternately can use opposite hand to that holding treat to do hand signal and phase that in first.
some dogs do better with hand cues than verbal cues to begin with.
Then,as with all commands,and tricks,begin to up the ante by adding distance from dog when asking for the trick,adding duration to the trick(how long she needs to lay still) etc.
Also can begin rewarding only upon completion. with distance situations,use the ‘release word’ to let her know she’s done and then she can come get rewards.
this trick is also a good gateway to ‘chaining’ trick,as you being with a sit and then down and then Bang. that’s a three command chain! oooooh.

-for a dog we are wanting to teach to calm and practice calm body language you can use the cue word CHILL instead and say the cue in a calm gentle voice rather than an exciting voice.