How to Train Your Dog to Ask Nicely

Take your pick of a verbal command — Be Polite, Beg, Ask Nicely, or Say Please — they all mean the same thing. The object is to get your dog to look irresistibly entreating. Although teaching it takes some patience, a dog asking nicely is a real charmer.

The hand signal for this trick is to move your palm upward, facing the sky. Start your hand at your hip and move it to your chest level.

To teach your dog to Ask Nicely, figure out which of the following three categories fits your dog: the Naturals, the Corner Crew, or the Bowser Bracers.

The Naturals among dogs

Naturals are the dogs most inclined to do this trick. They might even have discovered it by themselves during one of their more successful ploys to get attention. If you’ve got a natural, praise her each time she offers you the behavior. Soon you’ll have a smart aleck on your hands who sits up at every opportunity and you’ll have no trouble getting her to beg on cue.

  1. Instruct “Sit” and make sure your dog is sitting squarely (not leaning to either side).

  2. Take a treat and hold it an inch above her nose.

  3. As your dog stretches to sniff the treat, bring it back slowly between her ears as you command, “Ask nicely.”

    The dog should rise up to follow the path of the treat.

  4. Reward your dog’s split-second attempt to sit up.

    After she catches on, hold out for performances that are more balanced.

The Canine Corner Crew

The corner crew are eager beavers who are often coordinated enough, but get a little too excited about the thought of a biscuit reward — jumping, turning inside out for the food reward; basically unable to sit-still.

To structure the learning phase of this trick, start the dog out in a corner of the room to help her feel more secure. Tuck her back end toward the wall, and then follow the steps given in “The Naturals.” The walls on either side help limit and guide her movements.

If your canine pal is super-excited, practice when the dog is at a lower energy time such as late in the evening or after a good romp.

Bowser Bracers

If your dog is less than coordinated, you need to be a more active participant in the learning phase. Try this approach:

  1. Sit your dog squarely (not leaning to either side) and instruct “Stay.”

    Stand directly behind her tail with your heels together and your toes out to either side of her spine.

    A wobbly dog may need some support to Ask Nicely.
    A wobbly dog may need some support to Ask Nicely.
  2. Hold the treat above your dog’s nose and bring it upward and back toward her ear.

  3. Give the command “Ask Nicely.”

    As your dog begins to rise, brace her back with your legs for support.

  4. Reward the slightest lift.

    Gradually, hold out for routines that are more balanced (though still supported).

  5. Support the dog with just your knees when you see that she can balance well with your help.

    Eventually, your pooch will perfect a steady balance while supported by your knees.

  6. Withdraw your support in increments until you are just standing there cheering your pal on.

    Fairly soon, you can begin to step away. See how she shines!

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