Some people see beg as a very basic trick, but more often than not, they forget how difficult it is for a dog to perform! Now before I go into anything with this trick I want to make you aware that some breeds will struggle more than others with this trick due to their build. It does not necessarily mean that they cannot do it, but it does mean you need to take things much slower. If a dog is not engaging their core correctly while begging then they are putting extra strain through their spine and back muscles, so we must be very careful. I have found the smaller dogs, such as our little Chihuahua, Tiff, find begging much easier than our friends lovely German Shepherd cross Border Collie Eva. Now begging takes a lot of balance and body awareness from your dog, this is another reason why you need to take it slow. A very short period of begging in the correct position is much more beneficial than a longer period in an awkward position. You want their position to be correct before you can move onto the next trick I’d like to show you all. All this body work is especially good for working and performance dogs, as building up the core muscles helps to protect the spine and can help to prevent injury. But muscle-building isn’t just for working dogs! It’s great for helping to keep your companions healthy too and can help prevent injuries from happening in their walks and day-to-day life!
How To Teach Your Dog To Beg
You Will Need:
- A solid “sit” command in place
- Clicker/Marker word (if using a marker word, throughout the method, where it states to click, say your marker word instead)
- Lure/Reward – For my girls I have found treats to be the easiest but you can use a toy if need be!
Step 1: Stand or kneel in front of your dog with the clicker in one hand and your lure in the other. If you’re aiming to use a separate item to lure and a separate to reward, make sure the reward is at the ready and easy to access!
Step 2: Ask your dog to sit in front of you but do not reward at this stage – if you’re still teaching sit, wait until you have completed this training.
Step 3: With the hand holding the lure, lure your dog up and back ever so slightly. Do not more it back too far as they will obviously fall backwards! But if you’re holding the lure too far forwards they will likely just break their sit and stand or jump to get the lure. Keep the motion as slow and controlled as possible.
Step 4: As soon as both of your pups paws leave the ground, click and reward.
Step 5: Start to ask for slightly more height before click and rewarding, and gradually increase the height until your dogs back is completely straight. Please note that it may take you several days of short training sessions to get to this point, as your dog will gradually be building the muscles and balance required to perform this trick.
Step 6: Add in the command. Say the command once (I have used beg or sit pretty for various dogs), then lure your dog into position, click and reward.
Step 7: Once your dog is responding to the verbal command, gradually begin to turn your lure into a visual command. Say your verbal command and try to more your lure hand slowly away from your dog, only for a brief moment, then click and reward. Keep gradually moving your lure away, and the end result should be a small lift of the hand as a visual cue at the same time and saying your command for them to then perform a beg/sit pretty, whatever you want to call it.
Now at this stage a lot of dogs are still very wobbly. I would still expect a dog to be wobbly after 2 weeks of training when trying to extend the length of time in a beg. As for improving your dogs beg, this comes with their position. Now for the perfect beg and to give your dog the best chance to balance they need to be performing a “square sit”. A square sit means a straight sit, so no legs out to the side or leaning to one side, they need to be central with the back paws and hocks on the ground and knees flexed (bent) to find their centre of balance. I will write a short tutorial on square sits and insert the link when I have done so. Any dogs that aren’t sitting square will struggle with begging so they will likely build up an understanding themselves as you go through the basic method. But you don’t want to worry TOO much about their sits remaining square if you’re just training for a bit of fun. However if you want a sturdy beg that you can progress and add in to other tricks you need to worry about their position a lot. Here are the key points for improving a beg:
- Go back to training your sits and make sure they are square every time. From now on, only reward for square sits.
- Only ask for a beg when a square sit is performed. If they are “wonky”, lure them to stand and ask them to sit again until you get a square sit.
- Once your dog is responding well to the beg command you now need to reduce the length of time you ask them to beg and now only reward for a more controlled movement. As always don’t as for too much, too soon, for example:
- If you have a pup who “flails” their paws up into the air when they beg that’s normally because their core hasn’t developed correctly to control coming up slowly. Luna is a prime example of this, but because of her hip dysplasia she finds square sits to become uncomfortable after a few minutes of performing them so we have to build up extremely slowly. As with everything the more often we do it, the stronger her muscles will become and this in turn will support the joints. This means we have to ask for tiny improvements at a time, so going from flailing, even if she doesn’t flail as much I would consider that an improvement so I would reward for it. Then as soon as she starts to flail (anyone else think flail has lost its meaning yet? Flail, flail… Flail…) more I would stop training beg and move on as this would indicate her muscles are becoming tired.
- If you can see their begs are starting to lose some of the control that they have gained within a session, you need to stop. Continuing to ask them to beg at this point will cause them to compensate, meaning they won’t be using the muscles you want them to, causing the resulting trick to be off centre. A straight beg is the most impressive kind of beg after all, and a straight beg allows for more advanced tricks in the future.
I hope these points help you in training your pup to beg, and that I have explained it in a way that you might understand – I doubt it, this is Hannah logic we’re talking about here, sorry, I’m awful at explaining!
All this beg training will come in super handy for the next trick we want to show you guys, which is the “cuddle”. A cuddle to my girls is where they beg, then wrap their paws around something and hold onto it!
I hope you enjoyed today’s trick tutorials, let me know if I’ve waffled too much and I’ll try to keep it to a minimum for the next tutorial – HA! Me, not waffle? Who am I kidding?
As always, if you get stuck with anything pop me a message, always happy to help if I can! You can contact me by leaving a comment here or messaging me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’ve managed to help a few lovely owners and cute pups with their trick training now for positive results which is super awesome! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss our future trick tutorials!
Hannah, Luna and Aurora x