By Eric Gillaspy CPDT-KA
I love to teach dogs tricks. It’s fun, no pressure, and it can really improve confidence in the owner and the dog. Teaching a trick follows the same formula that you will follow to teach your dog any new behavior. One of my very favorite tricks to teach a dog is, “salute.”
It is important to set goals of what you want your dog to do when he hears the word salute. My definition of “salute” is that the dog has to touch above their eye. The easiest way that I have found to get your dog to do that is with tape. I use very lightweight tape like transparent tape. Tear off a small strip and place on their eyebrow. When your dog makes a motion to take it off, reward them with “good salute” and a treat or other reward.
Do this exercise a number of times until they associate the behavior with getting a treat. Now it is time to add the cue or command word. The second your dog picks up his paw to get the tape off, say “salute.” Then praise and reward with food or a pet.
Do this exercise over and over until your dog is responding to the word “salute” immediately.
Now it is time to take away the tape. Try to do this in the same training session. Remove the tape and say “salute.” Give your dog a few seconds to respond. He is thinking about what you want and how to get that reward.
When he finally does put his paw over his eye, praise and reward with a “good salute” and a treat. Keep it fun and positive. Tricks are a great thing to teach your dog and keep the learning fun.