Social distancing in response to the coronavirus for most of us means a whole lot more time at home. While you might miss getting out and about, your dog is probably thrilled to spend more time with you! Social distancing isn’t easy but you can use this time to teach your dogs some new tricks and, if you’re someone who likes to use humor to lighten the mood, you can even give the tricks pandemic themed names or cues.
Related: How Dog Owners Should Prepare for the Coronavirus
For these tricks you don’t need any fancy props. All you need is your dog and some training treats!
Photograph: Photodisc/ Getty Images
How to teach your dog the Spin trick:
Feeling a little trapped in your house? Teach your dog to spin in circles.
- Have treats in both hands
- Show your dog the treat in one hand. Then put your dog’s nose on the treat and use it to lure your dog in a wide circle. When she makes a full circle, praise and give your dog the treat.
- As your dog follows the lure around start adding in the verbal cue — you can use “spin” or you can introduce a pandemic themed cue like “panic.”
- Dogs tend to pick up on this trick quickly. Once your dog is spinning following the treat start to phase out the treat lure and transition just to a verbal cue or a smaller physical cue like spinning your hand in a circle.
Once your dog is confident with this trick use the same tips for teaching your dog to spin in the other direction. Start slowly adding distance between you and your spinning dog to finish the trick.
Photograph: Jevtic/Getty Images
Teach your dog to High Five
With social distancing, we aren’t supposed to be shaking hands or having close physical contact with people, but we don’t have to social distance from our dogs! To teach your dog to high five, first, have treats that your dog is really excited about ready. Have your dog in a sit or a stand in front of you then:
- Put a treat in one hand, close your hand into a fist and hold your hand out to your dog
- In an attempt to get to the treat your dog will eventually start to paw your hand. Praise, and open your hand to give your dog the treat.
- Repeat several times. Your dog will start to paw at your hand more quickly after figuring out this is how to get the treats.
- When your dog is constantly pawing at your closed fist, start to add in your verbal cue of choice — “high five” or anything you prefer — as you hold your hand up.
- After several repetitions with holding up your hand with the verbal cue and with your dog consistent, hold up your fist but this time without a treat in it. Cue your dog to give you five, then praise and treat your dog when he does so.
- When your dog is consistently high fiving your closed fist without a treat in it, hold out your hand flat to your dog as though you were giving a high five to a person. Give your verbal cue for high five and when your dog’s paw touches your hand, then praise and treat!
Teach your dog to Make A Wish
I think all of us are wishing for the world to get back to normal soon and now you can teach your dog to wish for it! For this trick your dog will be standing on her hind legs, putting her front paws up on your arm and bowing or dipping her — head under to make it look like she is wishing (or praying).
- If your dog already knows “paws up,” which is putting two paws on an object, cue that. Or, if your dog doesn’t know that trick, lure your dog with a treat to put her paws onto your outstretched arm.
- When your dog has both paws up on your arm, use a treat in the other hand under your arm and between your dog’s front legs.
- As your dog’s nose goes between her front legs and below your arm, praise and treat while in that position.
- As you practice, start to add in the verbal cue of your choice. “Make a wish” and “prayers” are common choices, but you can use any cue — “quarantine” feels appropriate!
- As your dog becomes more experienced, start to phase out having the treat luring your dog’s head down and just treat after the trick!
Take your dog tricks to the next level
Having fun teaching your dog tricks? Do More With Your Dog (domorewithyourdog.com) is the oldest trick titling organization. Your dog can earn trick titles (complete with ribbons and certificates) from the safety and comfort of your home by submitting videos. The titles are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)!
Visit the website to learn more about the titling program and how to get your dog involved.
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