How to Teach Your Dog to Crawl in 6 Easy Steps

Tricks curb dog boredom, promote total body awareness and, best of all, provide you and your pooch with a fun relationship-building opportunity; the two of you will learn to communicate more clearly with one another as you work together toward success. We are now going to teach your pooch how to crawl. Crawl is one of my favorite tricks because it not only looks cool but also teaches your dog excellent leg coordination.

What it Looks Like

Your dog lies down and crawls on all fours -as though she were sneaking up on a squirrel.

Before You Begin

You’ll need a pocketful of your dog’s favorite treats. Soft and stinky treats work best as you’ll only delay progress if your dog needs to constantly stop to crunch large biscuits.

6 Steps to a Cool Canine Crawl

#1 Find a Carpeted Area to Work On

Crawling on a hard surface may hurt your dog’s elbows and can make your knees sore as well. Be sure that your training environment is free of distractions. All those extra meows, barks and human chatter can add up to a lot of confusing background noise for your dog.

#2 Cue Your Dog to Lie Down

If your dog does not understand this command yet, simply lure her into position with a treat. Most dogs will plop right down if you put a treat up to their nose and then lure it straight down to their paws.

#3 Grab Some Treats

Now that your dog is lying down, grab a fist-full of treats and sit next to her. Slowly show her the reward and drag it a few inches away along the floor. You want her to scoot forward after the treats, even an inch will do at first. If she is successful, cheer “Yes!” and reward her at once.

#4 Raise your Crawl Criteria

Drag your lure out further each time so that your dog must crawl several inches in order to earn her reward. It is important that you reward all her efforts, even if she only crawls an inch at a time. Treat your fistful of rewards like a Pez-dispenser, doling out a reward for every few inches she crawls.

#5 Do Away with the Treats

Once your dog is successfully crawling several inches after your treat-stuffed fist you will want to do away with the visible lure (the jackpot of goodies in your hand). We want her to learn to crawl on cue, not only when she sees treats. With a now empty fist, start making the same luring motion as before, if she crawls after your fist praise her and reward lavishly with treats from your pocket. Good for you, your dog has now learned a crawl hand signal.

#6 Adding the Crawling Cue

Once she is confidently crawling it is time to name your trick! “Crawl” is a great name, but as the trainer you can call this trick anything you’d like to, some popular names are “Creep” or “Be Sneaky”. Start saying the cue just before your dog crawls; in no time she should make the association between the word and the behavior. Why stop at a few inches? If you keep practicing your dog can learn to crawl across the room!

Pooch Pointers

It is possible that your dog may become confused as to what you want. If she lies down and refuses to budge or continually stands up each time you encourage her to crawl forward, do not despair. Imagine if someone who spoke a different language was trying to teach you how to dance the Hokey Pokey? Their limbs would be flailing all over the place, but you may just stand their gaping. Sympathize with your dog and break the trick into smaller steps. Reward her just for lying down and then maybe for moving her head toward the treat or even for pawing at it-any forward motion. You can even try teasing her a bit with the treat by shaking it, she may try and pounce forward at which time you would reward her.

Tricky Tip

If your dog becomes so proud of her newfound ability to crawl that she becomes a “crawl-aholic”, offering her crawling behavior immediately after being cued to lie down, make sure that you don’t reward her. She should not start crawling unless you have asked her to do so. Otherwise, you may end up with an over-sized furry sand crab who scurries around the floor in hopes that an impressed onlooker will toss her a treat. Just ignore her if she does this. This rule stands for all tricks: unless you cue it don’t reward it. You want your dog’s tricks under your control. Always keep your training sessions short, end on a success, and have fun.

Provided by Tara Baggerman, Trainer & Owner of Caliber Canines.

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