January Train Your Dog Challenge

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far, I have been pretty good about keeping this resolution. Maya and Pierson have learned two new things this January.

TEACHING ALL THE WAY (aka head down)

You saw Maya do the “all the way” trick posted on January 6th. Now I have a photo of both Maya and Pierson doing it together.

Head Down All the Way Dog Trick 002

Maya and Pierson have both mastered the dog trick where they put their heads all the way to the floor.

Have your dog lay down in front of you. Tell them to stay, and then squat down and put the treat in front of them. If they reach for it, say “no”, “eh eh”, or “wait”. Slowly bring the treat (or toy) to the floor, leading their nose downward. Say “all the way” or “head down” the moment their chin touches the floor. Then say “good” and give them the treat or toy as a reward.

If they have a hang of this, move the treat down and a little out so that their entire muzzle is flat on the floor. Next, work your way up to where they don’t just touch the floor, but actually rest their head on the floor for a few moments.

Eventually, you will be able to say the command without having to put the treat in front of their nose and leading them into the position. Don’t worry if they don’t get to this point right away, like Maya. Train for only a few minutes at a time and be sure your training session always ends with a reward. So if your dog doesn’t get to the point where his entire muzzle is on the floor, that’s okay. Reward him if he is at least getting his chin to touch the floor. Reward your dog for what he can do and stop training before your dog gets bored or before either of you get frustrated.

The hardest part of this trick for both Maya and Pierson was keeping them from trying to crawl after the treat in my hand. It’s easier to teach this trick if your dog already knows to stay or wait.

TEACHING HOLD AND CATCH (aka balancing a treat on the nose then flipping it into the mouth)

The next trick is still in progress. I’m trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose, and then catch it when I give the release command. Once again, Maya was the first to get a hang of the trick. She will hold still without me having to hold her nose while Pierson still needs me to touch him. Both of them are still trying to learn how to flip the treat into their mouths rather than flip the treat behind them. Maya catches them more often than Pierson.

Pierson Balances Dog Treat on Nose

“I can see the dog treat. Why can’t I eat it?”

To teach this trick, hold your dog’s muzzle. Be gentle. Don’t make them uncomfortable, but hold on well enough that they can’t move around. When they seem to be holding still, give the “hold” command. Reward.

Next, add a treat to the mix. Hold your dog’s muzzle and gently balance the treat on their nose. This is a very tough one for most dogs because the can see the treat and really want to move so they can get the treat. Hold their nose gently and say “hold”. If they try to move out of your hand say “no” or “eh eh”, whichever your dog is more familiar with. If you dog doesn’t try to move out of your hand, hold for a few seconds. If he does try to move out of your hand, hold for only a split second. Try to only hold for just under the most amount of time your dog will hold still. You can gradually increase this amount of time over several training sessions.

When you reward them, let go of their muzzle and give the release command. I can say “catch”, but I use “okay”, which is the command I use to release them from “stay” or “leave it”. At this point, don’t worry about whether your dog flips the treat in their mouth. You want to teach them to balance it first.

Once you think they understand the “hold” command means to hold still, cradle their muzzle in your hand rather than hold it. After several successes, simply touch their chin when you give the “hold” command. Eventually, you can have them balance the treat on their nose without you having to hold them still at all.

Pierson Tries to Balance Dog Treat on Nose

I still have to touch Pierson’s chin in order to get him to hold still and balance the dog treat on his nose.

To teach them to catch the treat rather than flip it backwards is not easy. The best way I can say to do this is to double-reward them when they do it. In other words, if you give the release command and the flip the treat behind them, let them get the treat as their reward. But if they actually flip the treat in their mouth, give them another great right away and give lots of extra praise. Make a big deal out of their success.

The hardest part about this trick for Maya and Pierson is teaching them to hold still. I think it was easier for Maya because I have sort of used it before when I tried to balance my glasses on her nose.

Maya Balancing Dog Treat on Nose

Maya is good at balancing a dog treat on her nose.

Student Dog Maya Wearing Glasses

Maya already knew how to hold still and balance a pair of glasses, so teaching her to balance a treat on her nose was easy.

January is train your dog month. Dog training doesn’t have to be a chore. Teaching tricks is a lot of fun. So take up the challenge and remember to keep training sessions short and train often.

To see what’s next on our dog trick training agenda, come back on Monday to see. :)

Check out the blog hop below for more Train Your Dog stories, tips, and challenges.

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11 Responses to “January Train Your Dog Challenge”

  1. raisingdaisy Says:

    Daisy loves learning new tricks, it really seems to stimulate her mind and she gets so excited. Maya and Pierson are doing their new tricks so well!

  2. somethingwagging Says:

    What cute tricks. And you did such a nice job explaining how to teach them. I definitely want to try to teach Honey how to hold a treat.

    Thanks so much for joining the challenge.

  3. Alfie Entlebucher (@AlfieEntle) Says:

    Oh I so want Alfie to learn the ‘all the way’ trick – thanks for the tips! :-)

  4. SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) Says:

    Well done – I’ve been working on the treat on the nose trick for awhile with Jack…it’s hard. I know I just need to work with him more on it – maybe that will be my February challenge.

  5. ScottieMom Says:

    I love Pierson’s face while holding the treat! I wonder if this is something Heather or Mr. K could eventually do. We’ll have to try it out! Much love, The Scottie Mom.

  6. Adrian Meli Says:

    Pierson is coming along quite nicely-I would be happy if my dogs just listened to me every once in a while :-)

    • Nature by Dawn Says:

      :D My dog Sephi definitely had to be motivated to listen. If I didn’t have food, she didn’t care. Maya and Pierson, at least, are also motivated by praise. They’re big people-pleasers, for sure.

  7. weliveinaflat Says:

    I tried to balance a treat on Donna’s nose before… She had the “I hate this and I’m going to cry” face the whole time … that sort of made me feel bad :P heehee.

  8. mollieandalfie Says:

    I love learning tricks but that cookie one, I would eat that so quick Bawahwhahhwhaa xxoxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  9. 2browndawgs Says:

    Those are great tricks. Nice job. Brown dawgs refuse to hold anything on their noses. I am wearing them down though…lol.

  10. 25castleson25clouds Says:

    I’m so going to try these!!

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