There is a common misconception that a dog that knows a few parlor tricks, like play dead or high five, is simply performing a “silly” pet trick. On the contrary, although the maneuver may look a bit silly, training it is no easy task. It takes a skilled human teacher and a clever dog to make up such a trick-performing duo. The key reason for trick training is that it helps to curb doggie boredom.
We all know that a bored dog will seek out his own forms of entertainment, such as sofa-cushion eating and hole digging. A dog also becomes weary if all he’s ever taught is same old “Sit, Stay, Lie Down” routine. Teaching your dog tricks offers a unique learning and relationship building opportunity. Your pet will truly enjoy working with you while you’ll get to see how clever he is. Tricks stimulate both your dog’s body and mind all in one short session. Not only are spinning, rolling over or walking backwards physically demanding, but they also do a wonderful job of exercising your dog’s brain. Don’t underestimate the effects of a mental workout, your pooch will be pooped, and a tired dog is a good dog. Tricks offer an additional positive perk: they can teach your dog great body awareness. Some even stretch canine muscles before a long walk or a game of Frisbee. This trick, spin, will do just that. As a dog spins, he not only looks like a dancing pro, but he is also stretching his back muscles.
What it Looks Like
Your dog turns in a full circle and will look he’s chasing his tail.
Before You Begin
Grab plenty of Fido’s favorite treats or a toy. If you’re using edible rewards, be sure they are large and visible. If you use a clicker, grab that, too. If you don’t have or like using a clicker, just say, “Yes!” when your dog is successful.
Steps to a Successful Spin
#1 – No Distractions
Make sure your environment is free of distractions. This means that cats, other dogs, and nosey neighbors will have to wait someplace else in suspense for the unveiling of your spin. Dogs and humans alike, can’t concentrate on learning a new skill if our environment is loud and busy.
#2 – Start Standing
Start with your dog standing in front of you. He’ll just topple over like a bag of chewy bones if he tries to spin while sitting.
#3 – Reward a Circle
With your reward in hand, slowly lure your dog around in a circle. Click or cheer “Yes!” and reward him as he completes the spin. Remember: not all dogs are racing huskies and if you move the lure too quickly your dog may not be able to keep up. Repeat this step until Fido begins to confidently follow the treat in a circle. Only make your dog do one circle, we are not trying to make him dizzy.
#4 – The Need for Speed
Now it’s time to add a bit of speed! Start luring your dog around faster, always reward at the end of the completed Spin. Don’t forget to click or praise your dog for a spin well done.
#5 – Use and Empty Hand
Once you’ve completed several quick spins, it’s time to do away with the visible lure. Hide the reward in your pocket and with a now empty hand, make the same luring motion. If your dog is successful click, cheer, and jackpot him with lots of treats or play. Congrats: you now have a hand signal for spin.
#6 – Adding a Cue
Now that Fido is enthusiastically spinning, you may name the trick. I call it ‘Spin’, but you may choose whatever name you’d like… after all, you are the trainer and it’s your trick. Some popular names are circle, twirl or chase your tail. Start saying the cue just before your dog spins, in no time he should make the association between the word and the behavior. If you and your dog are an ambitious pair, you can even advance to teaching him to spin both to the right and the left.
Always keep your training sessions short and end on a success. If Fido just doesn’t seem to be with the program, I assure you that he is not a dumb dog. Chances are he is confused about what you want. If this happens, he may need to learn in smaller steps to raise his confidence. So don’t despair if Fido seems overwhelmed, instead end your training session by rewarding a half spin. You might even reward him for turning his head in the right direction of the spin. Take a break and come back to it later. Be patient, he’ll get it.
Some dogs will quickly become spinning sensations and will expertly begin to swirl and twirl for anyone who will watch their Vegas style act. If your dog starts to offer spins at every opportunity, just ignore him. He must learn not to spin unless you have cued the trick. We don’t want to encourage him to be a dizzy doggie showoff. The most important thing of all is to have fun.
Provided by Creatures Corner reader Tara Baggerman