Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tricks Can Be More Than Just For Kicks

"Confidence comes from discipline and training." Robert Kiyosaki
For some reason, I often hear people say they don't want to train their dog because they don't want to change their dog's personality.  They love every thing about their dog.  Training your dog undoubtedly can change a dogs personality, but I would argue only for the better.  Because I have taken the time to train my dogs, they are much more calm, confident, better behaved, and simply happier dogs.  Confidence has changed both of their personalities.  Rue has a prance about her, and a tail that waves around like peacock feathers, her body simply says, "I rock." And why wouldn't you want your dog to think they are amazing?  The training I've done with Chico has made him into a dog with lots of tenacity, courage, assurance, and self determination.  I know what your thinking, training is time consuming.  But it doesn't have to be.  Many experts say two, 15 minute training sessions per day are best for a dogs memory when trick training.  Realistically, that doesn't happen in most households. Some dogs simply can't train for more than a few moments at a time.  If your dog is still enjoying the session after one, 15 minute session, I'd consider continuing, but only if both parties are having fun.  Most people find that they too enjoy training their dogs new tricks.

All smiles for training

Chico has many tricks. The exuberance he shows towards training is simply over the top. It makes training him fun, fast, and challenging.  He also get frustrated very quickly.  Sometimes, I forget about some of the tricks he knows, and many times he reminds me of his favorites... Simply by offering the behavior.  So this post is dedicated to one of my favorite, long forgotten "tricks." Which turns out not only to be a trick, but a great behavior you can teach your dog whether they are fearful, flighty, happy, grouchy, reactive or aggressive.

Tricks Can Be More Than Just For Kicks
About a year ago, I found it difficult to enter our local training facility because dogs and people would often rush or crowd the only entrance/exit.  I knew that Chico was uncomfortable with this, so I thought of a behavior that could make him more comfortable in this situation.  Aside from not entering the building when it was packed, I came up with another solution.  I taught Chico, to go "Between" my legs so we could walk forward with him safely between my legs.

Teaching "Between" Legs
1. Stand a foot or two in front of your dog. Both facing the same direction.
2. With a treat in your hand, bend over slightly, putting the treat at nose level in front of your dog, in between your legs.
3. Lure your dog to the treat by moving your arm between your legs.
4. When your dog is in position, Click with a Clicker  or mark the behavior with a word. Then treat your dog.
5.  After a few days of training the behavior, name it! We call it "Between."

When you get good at this you can add directions and motion.  I did this with Chico by asking for a "Between", then adding a step, then Click and Treat.  He now knows, right and left motion, forward and backward.  He'd probably walk a few blocks between my legs if I asked him.

Chico practicing "Between" on a hike

Why this trick is in my favorites list. 
If an unwanted guest should approach my dog, I can:
-Grab my own dog's collar easily while they are between my legs
-Close my legs to block an unwanted interaction
-Easily feed my dog treats
-Keep my dog focused on me
And lastly, my dog feels safe.  Chico often likes to lie down in between my legs if I stand and talk to someone.  I know he is safe and he knows he is safe.  Chico has even offered this behavior when he 's been stressed at the vet and more recently when our friend stopped by unexpectedly on Halloween in costume.

Although the training I've done with Rue, (mostly agility and trick training) is completely different than Chico, (classical counter conditioning, desensitization, and trick training) the outcome is the same. Because I've trained Chico and Rue, they are far more confident and happy dogs.

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Confident, Sassy, and Happy Rue! 

This blog is not intended to be used as a training tool. Please contact a positive based trainer to help you and your dog.


  1. Awesome dog tricks! Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Thanks!

    Kind Regards,
    Elayne Taylor
    view site

  2. The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of great information which can be helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more contents...Great job, keep it up.
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