How To Teach And Improve Your Dogs Beg

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!

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Luna: “Excuse the muddy nose, there was a ball that needed saving from under Aurora’s Paw.”

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!

Method:

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.

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Luna: “Wave them paws in the air like you jus– Stomach… Weak”

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.
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Luna: “Walk like an Egyptian?”

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

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From beg I have taught Luna to pounce. This is Luna pouncing forward, she seems to love this trick. She always gets super excited when it comes into a training session! Let me know if you want to learn pounce.

 

How To Teach Your Dog To Hold

I’ve had a few requests of how to teach your dog to hold something in their mouth. Many of these people are trying to start out too complicated too soon, for example a friend was trying to teach their dog to bring them the remote but didn’t even have a hold it command for something the dog deemed comfortable. And Can you imagine holding cold hard plastic between your teeth? Not the most comfortable, and even worse if you’re already unsure! The same follows for training dummy’s, they aren’t the most comfortable so not all dogs will want to hold them from the off, opt for a softer object. So let’s go over the hold it command.

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Luna: “Soft and Squishy is great for me, I like to give it a real good squeeze!”

You Will Need:

  • Clicker or Marker Word
  • Reward – Treats/toy plus praise – if opting for a toy, keep the reward toy separate from what you want them to hold.
  • A toy your dog plays with on a regular basis and you have seen him holding in his mouth by choice. Nothing too over-stimulating though as this will cause too much distraction!

Method:

Step 1: Kneel/Stand in front of your dog with your clicker and what you want them to hold.

Step 2: Hold the object in front of your dog, close to, but not touching their muzzle. Click and reward when they touch the object with their nose or mouth. If it’s only a nose at firs still reward that, don’t ask for too much too soon, however bonus(!) if they’re already offering to put their mouth around it.

Step 3: When your dog is touching the object every time you want to move onto opening their mouth on the object. Some will do this naturally, so when they do, click and reward, but others need more encouragement – Aurora definitely did! How I encouraged her to touch the object with her teeth was by using a treat and holding it on the object with one thumb, whenever her teeth so much as brushed the object when getting the treat I would click and reward. It took some time but eventually she began to understand.

Step 4: Now when you present the object you want to wait until they grasp it before you click and reward. Even if they only grasp it for a millisecond you will want to reward. Make sure you are still supporting the object at this point, do not expect them to take the weight.

Step 5: Put in your command, repeat step 4 but start adding in the command as you present the object to your dog. Remember to only say the command once, try not to repeat the command! I use “hold it” for both Luna and Aurora.

Step 6: Begin to increase the time before you reward, very gradually increase the time of them holding the object in their mouth with you still supporting it before clicking and rewarding. Keep it at a few repetitions each time you increase the time, move up to half a second, repeat 3+ times , then a second, repeat 3+ times, then 2 seconds, repeat 3+ times, then 3, repeat 3+ times, so on and so forth. If at any point they start dropping sooner, move back to a duration they were comfortable, and repeat for longer in that duration before trying to move up again.

Step 7: Once they are comfortably holding the object with your support for at least 5 seconds you can now ask them to start to take some of the weight of the object. Ask them to “hold it” and begin to slowly take your hands away from the object slightly, dropping the duration back to half a second. Click and reward as usual, if after a few tries they keep dropping go back to the previous step and stay there for longer before trying to move on again.

Step 8: Completely remove your support from the object, click and reward after one second and repeat several times.

Step 9: Begin to increase duration. As always be sure to increase the duration very gradually, Even more so if they have been unsure of any of the recent steps!

 

If you want to move onto harder objects to hold, move back as many steps as necessary with the new object. Some dogs will apply it to other items with ease, while others will find it harder, so just break it down again for them, potentially going right back to step 1!

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Luna: “This is self-control kids, it’s taking every ounce of my being to not gobble this up! But don’t get cross, that’s what food is for right?” | Trip Bone: Guru Pet Food

So that’s how I taught Aurora to hold it. I was extremely lucky with Luna because she just held items naturally, I had to use some of these steps to ask her to hold things that she found less comfortable though, and food took a seriously long time to teach! But with patience you will get there! As always this is just the method I’ve used for my dogs, there are so many different ways that people teach tricks. No one knows your dog better than you, it’s just a case of seeing the end result and working out what steps it needs to be broken down into for it to work for them.

We’ve had some great feedback from our other trick tutorials, if your dog knows the tricks we are sharing or you’re using our methods to learn to teach them please share with us! Use the Hashtag #CCTrickTutorials on Instagram, and we might just feature you in our story. Also if you get stuck with any tricks drop me a message on InstagramFacebook or Twitter, I’d be happy to try to help. We are most active on Instagram though!

What trick would you like to see our method for next? Leave us a comment and don’t forget to subscribe for more trick tutorials!

How To Teach Your Dog To Touch

Hi guys! So for today’s little trick training how to we will be joined by Sputnik, AKA Mr. Mash!

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Mr Mash is so handsome! He even has his own Blog. Here he is posing on the Guru Pet Food stand at Countryfile Live!

Today I’m going to explain my method of how to teach your dog to touch your hand. It’s worth stating that I think teaching a dog to touch a hand with their nose is beneficial in day to day life! It shows our pups that an approaching hand is friendly, and not a threat. Something that was very helpful in Luna’s rehabilitation. And how to move touching a hand to touching a target stick, which is a super useful piece of kit to teach other tricks in the future! So without further ado, let’s get started!


Touch

You will need:

  1. A clicker – make sure your dog is conditioned to the clicker, see how to condition your dog to a clicker here
  2. A reward – normally small treats or toys

Method:

Step 1: Kneel/stand in front of your dog and present your dog with a flat palm. Do not try to touch your dogs nose just leave your hand in a static position. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and normally will investigate your hand to see whether there’s anything good there!

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Presenting a hand to Spud

 

 

 

Step 2: As soon as your pups nose touches your hand as they investigate, click and reward. Make sure your timing is right, as soon as you feel that nose on your hand, click!

 

 

Step 3: Move the hand you have asked them to touch behind your back, wait a few seconds.

Step 4: Present your hand again, and repeat steps 1-3 several times.

Step 5: When your dog is touching your hand as soon as you present it you can start adding in the command. I like to use “Touch” but you can input any command you like, I know some friends like to use “Nose”.

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Spuddy touching Mummy’s hand!

 

Step 6: Begin to offer your hand in different positions and say the command “Touch” but only once. When they touch click and treat! If your pup isn’t  sure what you are asking go back to step 5 and repeat a few times before trying to step back up to Step 6 again.

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Luna reaching higher to touch my hand! Touch can also be useful for dogs that you struggle to lure with food! Knowing the touch command allows me to lure Luna into the beg position without food – although I never struggle to Lure her with treats, such a foodie!

 

Target Stick
Need to know Touch

You will need:

  1. A clicker – make sure your dog is conditioned to the clicker, see how to condition your dog to a clicker here
  2. A Retractable Target stick – You can get a target stick with a built in clicker which is so useful! Rather hard to hold a clicker, target stick and a treat all at once! You can get one here: Target Stick With Clicker
  3. A reward – normally small treats or toys

Method:

Step 1: Keeping the stick retracted, stand/kneel in front of your dog and show them the ball on the end of the stick and ask them to touch.

Step 2: Your dog will hopefully understand what you are asking and touch what is closes to them (the ball on the end of the stick). As soon as their nose touches click and treat. Some dogs may try to go past the ball and touch your hand as taught previously, this is where your timing of clicking is crucial. Even if they brush the ball, click and treat! but make sure that they haven’t reached your hand before you click.

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“Love my Birthday present from Spud by the way, blue is definitely my colour!”

Step 3: Move the target stick behind your back and wait a few seconds.

Step 4: Present the target stick again and repeat steps 1 through to 3 several times.

Step 5: Once your dog has touched the ball several times consistently you can start to make the stick longer. Only push it out by 1-2 inches at a time and repeat steps 1-3 several times at each length until you have the stick fully extended.

If your pup is having trouble touching the end of the stick you can use something to lure them onto the end of it, such as cream cheese, Pâté or peanut butter (make sure it’s a dog friendly one! The ones that contain Xylitol are not dog friendly, please check the ingredients). Also be sure not to give your pup too much of these food items that are not made specifically for dogs, it can upset tummies! Use sparingly, it is only a lure after all, and they’re getting a treat after too!

Once your pup has mastered touching a target stick you can eventually begin to use it as a guide for more advanced tricks.

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“Look ma! No hands!” I can now use the target stick as a guide to bring Luna up onto her hind legs and follow it around. This is super helpful as with larger dogs, if you try to use your hand they tend to lean on you, most can’t reach when you’re using a target stick!
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“For fluff sake woman, hold that thing still!” Using the Target stick as a guide to ask Luna to trot in a circle around me.

 

Thanks for reading guys! I hope you find these little how to posts helpful! Next time will be how to teach your dog to spin both left and right, as requested by @My.locococo on Instagram! Please let me know in the comments or via message on Instagram or Tweet us if there are any tricks you would like to learn how to teach. If we don’t already know the trick, we will learn it with you! What is your dogs favourite reward when training?

 

Clickers and Trick Training Basics

I thought, before I went running off and showing you guys how I teach certain tricks, it would be best to first explain my teaching methods and some of what I use. Now I am by no means a qualified trainer, and you may well have your own methods, but for those of you who are interested I’ll crack on!

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Sitting Pretty doesn’t just happen overnight!

 


Starting out

Start out simple! If you have never done any trick training before do not throw yourself in at the deep end! This may seem obvious to a lot of you but I’ve seen it so many times before, and then people give up because they become frustrated with their pup! Not their fault If you haven’t done much trick traing start out with the basics and trick I personally consider easy to teach (this is not always the case, every dog is different!).

Tricks I consider easy to teach:

  • Sit
  • Down (Lie Down)
  • Stand
  • Paw
  • Hi-5
  • Wave

Follow the blog if you’re interested in learning any of the above tricks in the near future! I’ll be combining these 6 basic tricks into one post!


Treats

Small training treats are best suited to trick training, and the smaller the treat the better! We don’t want those pup’s getting chunky!

I use a variety of treats, but I need to know that they are okay with my dogs tummies before using them, as we do go through quite a lot even in a short training session!

Having a set of treats can be useful too. I have either 2 or 3 sets of treat with me for a training session. A basic treat, a slightly more sought after treat, then something amazing! If your pup is taking longer to pick up a certain trick then it may be worth increasing the value of the treat, as this often helps speed up the process!

Some training treats I use:
Mixed Sausage Bites – Can be broken/cut up into really tiny pieces
Guru’s Venison Sausages – I still have yet to take a knife to their heads but they break up okay
Lily’s Kitchen Little Liver Rewards – Can be snapped up smaller but are the hardest of all mentioned
Pet Munchies Sushi Training Treats – Can be easily broken in half

 

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Not a training treat, however holding something this yummy and resisting the urge to gobble it down is not without Training!

Clicker

I use a clicker for a lot of my trick training, I find it’s much easier to precisely target the specific behaviour that you are trying to teach.

What is a clicker?
A clicker is a small handheld device which makes a clicking sound when you press the button.

How does a clicker work?
You must first ‘condition’ your dog to the clicker. You do this by pressing the clicker then giving your dog a treat/reward immediately after. When I first condition a dog to a clicker it normally takes 1-3 days depending on the dog. I will normally condition 2-3 times a day for 1-2 minutes each time. This will teach your dog to associate the sound of the clicker with a reward!

How can I tell if my dog is correctly conditioned?
Wait until your dog is not paying attention to you, and click. If they react quickly to the sound and come to you expecting food, or whatever you have decided to use as a reward, you know it has worked!

What if I can’t get/forget a clicker?
Now I’m possibly one of the most forgetful people you will ever meet. There are many occasions where I’m stuck without a clicker, so my back up is a sound that I can make consistently, that is also not a sound they hear often. My personal sound is a whispered ‘yessssssssss’ so I hiss at the end like a snake! It isn’t as consistent as a clicker, however it is still better than just your normal voice!

The Best clicker?
there are loads of different clickers out there and they all do their job just fine! Personally I like to use one that I can clip to something because I’m forever dropping and losing things!

Here’s a link to the clicker I use: Petface Clicker

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Bum Bag

To me a bum bag with several pockets is essential! Mine has 3 zip compartments and a Velcro pouch. The Velcro pouch carries my poo bags (essential!), biggest back pocket is used for toys, the middle compartment for treats and the front carries my clicker and any other small equipment I may need for that training session. If you feel ridiculous in a bum bag, a treat bag that you can clip to your trousers will suffice. Personally I get annoyed with most treat bags for not sitting open well enough or being too easy access for the dogs to stick their noses in and self-serve!

I actually take my bum bag on all dog walks, because general walks can be used as training time too! For those fashionista’s out there, you can buy yourself a fancy bum bag in lots of places now too! Just be sure that it has a waterproof lining so it’s easy to wash gross treat bits out!

Here’s the link for my Petface bum bag: Petface Bum Bag

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Our command for this is ‘Shame’

 


Toys

If your pooch likes or prefers a toy as a reward then great! My advice on toys is to try to use something that doesn’t take you forever to reward them with (for example throwing a ball miles every time you want to reward your pup will make your session take forever!). If you use a ball then just asking them to catch it I have found to be much more productive. Tug toys are a great quick reward too!

Luna and Aurora’s favourite toy reward are Kong squeaky balls!

Here’s the link for the squeaky balls: Kong Squeakair Balls


Environment

Remember that your environment can affect your trick training! It is best to start trick training in a very familiar, indoor environment where there are little to no distractions.

With every new trick I teach the girls they always learn it either in the living room or in our bedroom. These are the places with the least distractions for them. When I am confident that they understand the trick, and only then, will I begin to try to move it outside. First I move to the garden, which is familiar, but with more distractions, including sounds and smells! Then once I’m confident they have it in the garden I will move to a quiet public space and get busier and busier!

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Our command for this trick is ‘Hide’!

 


Attitude

Your attitude will have so much impact on a training session, and I cannot stress this to you enough! You MUST be positive, because why would your dog want to listen to and cooperate with you if you were in a crappy mood? I personally am someone who feeds off the vibes of others around me, and I believe a lot of dogs to be the same way!

If you are for whatever reason frustrated, stressed, angry, upset, or any other negative emotion, and have a training session planned, cancel those plans. Go have some chill out time instead and save the training for another time, because you don’t want to be undoing all your hard work and breaking that special bond that trick training helps you and your dog build! It’s supposed to be fun dammit! You fun sponge! But seriously don’t panic, we all have those days.

Unfortunately I can’t give you a link to buy a better attitude, sorry!

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Sitting still is an essential ‘trick’ for every day life in my opinion!

I don’t have time to trick train

Yes. You. Do.

You do not need all the time in the world to do some trick training with your dog. Personally I spend 5-20 minutes every evening before we settle down and watch TV doing some trick training. But you don’t even need to do that much, 5 minutes 3 times a week is enough for your dog to start learning basic tricks. Set aside 5 minutes of your usual walking time to do a bit of trick training, as mental stimulation can be just as tiring as physical stimulation!

I find it easiest to set out a schedule for trick training, because I’m a horrible procrastinator! But if I plan things, I’m much more likely to get them done!


 

I hope you find some of these things helpful. Of course this is not gospel, this is just my madness, however there is occasionally some method in my madness, so maybe you’ll find something helpful?

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post, if you found it helpful, what you found helpful and if there’s anything you think I have missed and/or would like to know more about in relation to trick training. Also let me know if there are any tricks you would like to know how I train or want to see me train the girls in the future! Basically I want a whole customer survey from you, by the end of the week. Chop, chop!

If you happened to be one of the poor souls that made it this far through my ramblings, and you possibly enjoyed the post, feel free to click that follow button and subscribe to my future posts!