KIDSGAZETTE

How to teach your dog a simple trick

Flicker is shown learning the trick called #x201c;packing for vacation.#x201d; She first learns to stand in a box, then
Flicker is shown learning the trick called “packing for vacation.” She first learns to stand in a box, then to sit in a box, and finally to lie down in a box. Use a box instead of a suitcase to “pack” the dog because boxes are safer and can’t accidentally shut and close on the dog. (Diana Pesek/The Gazette)
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Dogs get bored being stuck at home just like we do. Since they love spending time with us, one way you can keep them busy this summer is to teach them tricks.

When you start teaching tricks, keep these tips in mind:

• Training sessions should be short, five to ten minutes.

• Break the trick down into small steps.

Here’s a simple trick you can start with called “packing for vacation.”

You will need a cardboard box large enough for your dog to lie down in. Cut off the top flaps so the dog can get in and out of the box easily. When your dog comes up to investigate the box, give her a treat.

Next, treat your pup when she puts one or two feet inside the box. If she is hesitant to do that, you can hold out a treat over the far side of the box to see if she will step into the box to reach the treat. Take your time and be patient if she is unsure about stepping into the box.

Once your dog will walk up to the box and immediately put her front two feet into the box each time to get a treat, you’re ready for the next step. Now you want the dog to stand in the box with all four feet, so wait until she puts all four feet in before giving her the treat. Repeat this behavior multiple times until she happily walks up to the box and stands in it.

Step three is to ask her to sit in the box. After she stands in the box, ask her to sit and then wait to give her the treat until she sits down. Repeat this until she sits down on her own each time to get the treat without you asking her to sit.

The last step is to have your dog lie down in the box, as if she is being packed into a suitcase. After she sits, ask her to lie down and wait to give her treats until she is laying down. Repeat many times until she comes into the box and immediately lies down without you asking her.

Now you can give a name to the trick, such as “pack.” You add the name of the trick at the end of the training so the dog associates the name with the full sequence of behaviors she is doing. Then you can say “pack” and your dog should go to the box and lie down in it to get her treat!

Comments: (319) 398-8328; diana.pesek@thegazette.com

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