Crufts-worthy tricks you can easily teach your dog at home

It’s Crufts weekend, which means dog lovers can watch on as some of the world’s most proficient pups strut their stuff.

Despite being an amazing spectacle, though, it can leave people wondering why their own pets aren’t quite as talented.

The truth is, most dogs can be easily taught tricks and obedience – owners just need to know the right way to help them learn.

According to dog behaviourist Dr Emma Scales-Theobald, PhD, there are many benefits to teaching a dog agility skills. Not only does it keep them fit, it acts as a mental stimulant and improves their overall wellbeing.

Alongside Pooch and Mutt, Dr Emma has shared some of her top tips – and top tricks – when it comes to training your dog.

Before you get going, she highlights the importance of patience, which will help make training a ‘positive experience for both you and your dog.’

As well as keeping a level head amid frustration and repetition, you’ll need a safe place where your dog feels comfortable, plenty of treats, and the ability to maintain a consistent routine.

‘Consistency is key,’ says Dr Emma. ‘Nailing down your commands and hand gestures before you get started will save your dog from getting confused and help them learn the tricks much quicker.’

Think you’ve got what it takes?

Give these beginner-friendly tricks a go and, who knows, you might even end up on that coveted Crufts stage next year.

Jumping over a hurdle

As this trick requires patience, it’s best to go about it in stages, starting with a hurdle low enough for your dog to step over and your dog on a lead.

Dr Emma says: ‘Begin simply walking your dog over the bar, marking it with a “yes” and rewarding them with a treat every time they step over it.

‘This will help them gain confidence around the hurdle, as well as getting over it.’

Once your dog has nailed this, raise the bar slightly and sit on one side with your dog on the other. Try calling them and showing them their treat to coax them over.

If they’re struggling, use the lead to guide them over the hurdle, and always mark and reward when your dog reaches the other side.

‘Use the lead to guide them over if they are struggling. Once the dog reaches the other side, mark and reward.

‘Again, once your dog is confident with this, you can start introducing the name of the command,’ Dr Emma explains. ‘This should be something such as “jump’ or ‘over”.

‘Call your dog over the hurdle, and once their feet are off the ground, say your command and then mark and reward again once they get to you.’

You can then continue increasing the hurdle height as your dog’s confidence grows.

Weaving through obstacles

You’d normally use cones for this trick, but upside-down plastic cups are a good alternative. They should be evenly-spaced and quite far apart to begin with.

It’s also worth marking the gaps between each cone so you know your starting point.

Dr Emma explains: ‘Before encouraging your dog to weave through the cones, you want to get them familiar with following a treat.

‘To do this, make it known to your pooch that you have a treat in your hand and work on getting them to follow your hand, marking with a “yes” and the treat when they have followed your hand successfully.’

When they’re getting the hang of this, start trying to guide them through the cones with a treat in hand close to your dog’s snout. As before, always mark and reward them when they reach the end.

Repeat this a few more times to give your pet positive reinforcement, then begin introducing the command “weave” (making sure to also mark and reward when they get it right).

As their confidence grows you can space the cones closer together and start saying the command without guiding the dog.

‘If they struggle, that’s fine,’ adds Dr Emma. ‘Jump back a step and guide them through again.’

Running through a tunnel

This trick can be taught using a children’s play tunnel or by cutting the bottoms off large cardboard boxes and placing them in a line.

Dog behaviourist Dr Emma recommends getting your pet comfortable to start off with. Let them sniff and get close to the tunnel, and reward positive behaviour with a ‘yes’ and a treat.

‘Once you are happy that your dog doesn’t fear the tunnel, lay out a trail of treats through the tunnel to entice your dog to manoeuvre through it,’ she says.

‘Ideally, you will have one person holding your dog at one end and another person on the other to call and encourage the dog.’

As before, repeat the process a few times and give them praise and treats when they go through the tunnel to build their confidence.

When the movement has sunk in, remove the treats from inside the tunnel and save it for the reward afterwards. Have someone encourage your dog through, and mark and reward whenever they reach the end.

Once they’ve mastered this, start saying a command like ‘through’ to mark the action, repeating as necessary until your dog runs through upon hearing the command without needing a treat.

Spin on the spot

This trick is a little harder, but Dr Emma says it’s doable with plenty of patience and rewards.

She says: ‘Start with a treat held closely to your dog’s snout and begin by luring them round to one side. As they start to turn, mark and reward with the treat.

‘Repeat this a few times, ensuring you always lure them the same way until they get used to the motion of turning.’

As your dog’s confidence grows, start luring them in a full circle with the treat. It will likely take a number of tries to get this right, so avoid getting frustrated and go back to the start as many times as you need. Each time they complete a full circle, give them a ‘yes’ and a treat as a well done.

The command ‘spin’ can then be incorporated.

‘Lure your dog round and as they start the movement, say the command, and when they finish, mark and reward,’ says Dr Emma.

‘Continue repeating this until your dog gets it right every time. Only then can you start to try getting them to spin without luring them with a treat.

‘You should get to a point where you can simply say ‘spin’, and your dog will know exactly what to do!’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article