New Tricks for the New Year

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By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist

My dog’s New Year’s Resolution is to learn at least one new trick this year. It’s a good thing he got so many treats for Christmas for his clicker training! He’s already made a lot of progress learning Place/Bed. Does your dog need to add a new command to his bag of tricks too? Start your dog’s training with these 2 new tricks to teach your dog for the new year.

Place/Bed

Get your dog to stay on his bed.

Get your dog to stay on his bed.

Doc is an “underfoot” dog. He likes to be where the action is, which means he’s often in the way. For example, if I’m cooking, Doc will lie down by the sink or the stove, so I have to step over him every time I go to stir the pot or wash my hands. To keep him out of the way, I’ve started to teach him to go to his bed when I say “Place.”

 

Place/Bed is a really easy trick to teach your dog.

  • Pick a spot you want your dog to go when you give the command. Put your dog’s bed or crate there (we’ll use a bed for this example).
  • Toss a treat on the bed.
  • When your dog goes over to it, click and give your dog another treat away from the bed.
  • Repeat until your dog starts to walk over to the bed to get the treat before you throw it.
  • Once your dog starts to go to the bed before you throw the treat, click and treat after your dog walks onto the bed.
  • Start by clicking when he puts 1 foot on the bed, then work up to all 4 feet on the bed.
  • Repeat in 10-minute sessions until he reliably goes over to the bed.

Now you need to pair the action with the command.

  • Pick a consistent command such as Place, Bed, Crate or Bedtime.
  • Say the command right as he gets on the bed, and click at the same time.
  • Repeat in 10-minute sessions.
  • Once your dog has associated the action and command, start saying the command before your dog touches the bed.
  • Repeat in 10-minute sessions until your dog goes over to the bed each time you say the command.

Next, chain the command with Down or Sit and Stay so your dog will go to the bed and stay there.

  • Give the command and wait until your dog is on the bed. Click and give a treat, but keep your dog on the bed.
  • Say Down/Sit (whichever you prefer) then Stay. Click and throw the treat away from the bed.
  • Repeat this combo until your dog does both automatically after you say Place.
  • (Optional) Practice in different places so you can use the trick anywhere. Move the bed a few inches away, then give the command. Practice in different rooms and different locations too. Repeat in 10-minute sessions until your dog goes over to the bed after you give the command no matter where the bed is.

Potty

A simple but helpful trick is to teach your dog to go to the bathroom on command. Before Doc had a consistent bathroom routine, Doc didn’t know the difference between potty time and playtime. When I took him outside for one last potty break before bed, Doc would go outside and stare at his ball until I threw it for him. He refused to pee until I threw the ball. If I hid the ball and tried to get him to go in the yard, he would just sit down on the grass. He didn’t know what I wanted him to do. It was frustrating for both of us.

Now Doc’s bathroom routine before bedtime is to go outside, do his business, then come back inside. No sniffing, no playing, just peeing. If he walks over to his tennis ball, I nudge him towards the grass and say “Go Potty.” I don’t throw the ball for him; I want to show him it’s bathroom time, not playtime.

I did my business, Mom. Now where’s my treat?

I did my business, Mom. Now where’s my treat?

Once he goes to the yard and starts to do his business, I say “Good boy, good potty,” so he knows that’s what I want him to do. You can easily turn this into a command with a clicker. When your dog starts to do his business, click when he’s almost done. That way he won’t come rushing back to you for his treat and forget to finish his business. You can also have separate commands for your dog’s #1 and #2. This technique works for potty training puppies too, or for teaching your dog to go to the bathroom in a specific place.

After Doc is finished, we go right inside and he gets a treat. He’s learned that the sooner he finishes his business, the sooner he gets “dessert,” so he doesn’t linger outside. This routine makes bedtime so much easier for both of us.

What tricks are you planning to teach your dog this year?

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