As most of us are staying at home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we're spending more time than usual with our canine companions. Our dogs can't play with each other at the parks due to physical distancing, but that doesn't have to stop you from exercising your dog. In fact, this stay-home period is a great opportunity to work on some training and bond further with your four-legged friend!
We invited certified dog trainer, Janice Lin, from Janice's K9 Training to collaborate with us on this blog post and help us learn some fun tricks to teach your dog at home! This series will show you 5 tricks, and the series will be divided into 2 posts, we will learn tricks from increasing difficulty.
Tip: It's important to be patient and positive during training, praise and reward lots, training should be a fun exercise for both the dog and the human; If you get frustrated, your dog will likely pick up on your energy and your progress will be counter-productive.
Trick #1 - Touch (Difficulty Level: Easy)
Techniques Used: Positive Reinforcement
Touch is a basic command that is easy to learn, and very useful for building toward more advanced tricks in the future!
Step 1. Hold out your hand for your dog, and give the command “touch”
Step 2. When your dog moves towards your hand, praise immediately to let your dog know they're on the right track and reward with a treat
Step 3. Repeat this until they fully touch your hand
Step 4. Repeat until your dog understands the word "Touch", practice daily to reinforce
Tip: foods and toys can both be used as currency to reward your dog, most dogs are more food-motivated, but that isn't always the case. Find out whether your dog is food-motivated or play-motivated beforehand by presenting both options and observing which one gets your dog more excited, then use the most effective reward for your own dog!
Trick #2 - Spin! (Difficulty: Easy-Medium)
Techniques used: Luring and Positive Reinforcement
Step 1. Hold a treat in your hand, we will be using this to Lure your pup into position. If they already know “touch”, then you will simply be using your hand without the treat!
Put your hand in front of your dog’s nose, and move your hand around the dog, guiding them in a circle. Give the command “Spin” as you do this.
Step 2. Praise and reward immediately after they completed a circle
Step 3. Once they get a hang of the command, gradually increase the distance between your hand and your dog's nose, until you no longer need to lure them into position
Step 4. Repeat and reward on a regular basis to reinforce the command
Tip: During training, it's handy to have treats ready in small bite sizes, bite-size pieces will reduce the time between completing command and reward, therefore making sure your dog understands that they're doing a good job! It's also important to watch your pup's calorie intake if you're doing a lot of training in a day, reduce the corresponding portion from their regular meals.
That is a wrap for Part 1! Please stay tuned for our next post, as we will be teaching more advanced tricks including Sit Pretty, Between, and Between & Walk. If you have any questions regarding training, behavioral correction, don't hesitate to reach out to Janice for some extra help.