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Teaching Your Dog Tricks by Sequencing Your Moves

Part of the Dog Tricks & Agility For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When teaching tricks, sequencing your moves is what dog training is all about. From simpler moves like the paw spinoff “High Five” to more complicated tricks like “Fetch Me a Soda” and more athletic endeavors like agility and Frisbee, sequencing encourages you to divide each routine into easy-to-master steps, perfecting one step before moving to the next. Only after you and your dog have mastered each separate step do you put them together.

For example, here’s how to teach your dog to jump through a hoop:

  1. Prop a broom handle a couple of inches off the floor; then jump over it alongside your dog, teaching the command “Over!”

    Place a broom handle on two objects of equal height, such as soup cans or cereal boxes. Let your dog sniff the setup, then take him back five paces back and command “Over!” as you take the jump together. Good dog! When you’ve perfected this, you’re ready for Step 2.

  2. Train your dog to walk through a hoop, using the cue word “Through!”

    First, show your dog the hoop. Place it flat on the ground so he can step around and sniff it. Now hold the hoop upright at ground level and lure your dog through with a toy or a treat. As he walks through, say “Through!”

  3. Recruit a helper to hold the hoop upright, with its bottom touching the broom handle, and teach the dog to jump through the raised hoop, using the cue “Through–Over.”

    Beginning five strides back, say “Through–Over” as you run up to the hoop and encourage your dog through. Praise and reward good performance.

  4. 4.Remove the broom and teach your dog to jump through the hoop alone, using the command “Through.”

    Repeat Step 2. Good dog! Slowly raise the hoop to the height of your dog’s elbow (or hock). Keep practicing. Encourage your dog to jump through the hoop wherever you place it. If he gets confused when you move it, lower it to half the height and/or use the balanced broom stick to increase his concentration. Got that? Now you’re ready for center stage!

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