To finish off our wonderful series I decided that it only seemed fitting to teach your dog a new trick that can be used during the Halloween season. Therefore we chose Play Dead. Diego had not previously been taught this trick so throughout the month of October we slowly taught him how to do it. It took a bit of patience at the beginning, but once he had it, we were away smiling. I would love to videos or photos of your dog learning the Play Dead command, so leave a comment on this post or go across to our Facebook and post a photo to our wall.
First off you will need high reward treats, some sort of treat that is very smelly and your dog cannot resist following it with their nose. We used Harringtons Training Treats, which we used to love so much, and have only recently found them again. Also, it will definitely help if your dog already knows the down command. The main step is luring them from the down position, so if you already have that command down, it will really improve your chances of them learning this one.
Command your dog to lie down. You will want your dog to be relaxed onto one side. Diego always lies down straight, and so I had to be patient and wait for him to finally relax before we can get to the next step. Waiting for them to be relaxed will help a lot, as it means that they will naturally fall to the side which they are resting on.
Put the treat in front of your dogs nose and slowly lure him to the side which he is resting towards. Aim to do an arc so that eventually the dog will be lying on his side with the treat in front of his nose. This will take a lot of repetitions before the dog will fully be on his side. Every time Diego went towards the treat in the direction I wanted, I would treat him, and each time treat him a little lower. Once Diego understood the concept, he was happy enough to flop to his side. In this video, Diego had done the repetition a few times, and that is why he went straight towards the ground.
This is when you start using a key word so that they learn the word associated with the move. I personally used Play Dead, but it is completely up to you what you use. Just make sure that what you use now, is what you plan to use for the duration of this trick.
Keep practicing that with the treat, and word in combination and eventually you will be able to phase out the treat and just use the words to get the desired result. Now you will be able to show off to all the Trick or Treaters your dogs new trick, and maybe he may get a few extra treats on the night.
When we filmed that one clip, we did film all the steps individually but I just didn't like how it turned out so will be getting more footage over our next couple of training sessions. Once I have a good amount of quality footage, I will put together a full YouTube video on how to teach Play Dead, so if you prefer a visual step by step, stay tuned for that!
To check out the other posts in our Halloween series, visit our original post.