One of the most popular blog series of 2021 was Tricks for Treats.
In this series of posts Aly shared fun tricks that you can teach your dog — we promise there is nothing scary here! The tricks are easy to teach and fun to learn.
This week we are teaching THE LEG WEAVE. We have made a little video of how to train this trick which you can access by joining our Aly’s Insider Club where we produce monthly training videos! (Sign up now and get the first 30 days free and instant access to the past training videos!)
Why Teach Your Dog Tricks?
Tricks are a fun way for a dog to learn how to use their body and brain in new ways, all while building a relationship with you! It’s a positive way to get things done with your dog. I LOVE tricks! Tricks done right, build skills, coordination (for both you and your dog!), confidence, and let’s face it, they are ol’ fashioned FUN!
Your dog loves tricks too! Here are a few basic trick Do’s and Don’ts:
- Don’t rush your dog
- Don’t punish your dog if they do not execute the trick as planned.
- Don’t force your dog to do a trick
- CLICKERS: Clickers are very helpful in making a distinctive mark for the desired behavior in an incredibly timely manner. Clickers are fast and can mark the behavior instantly. Any delays between the behavior you want and the behavior you are rewarding, and there can be confusion. For example, you want your dog to lower his head and he wagged his tail. You may think you are rewarding the lowering of the head, but your dog thinks he’s rewarded for wagging his tail. You get the idea that timing REALLY MATTERS in tricks.
- GREAT REWARDS: Rewards are the thing your dog wants. Rewards can be a high value food, a pet, a chance to run and play, really anything that your dog loves! The reward is known as the primary reinforcer.
- You are pairing the reward (primary reinforcer) with the CLICKER (the secondary reinforcer) The clicker tells the animal, “YOUR REWARD IS ON THE WAY!”
- Tricks build bit by bit. You break a trick down into small pieces, eventually putting the pieces together to create the big picture of the desired trick. For example, if you want your dog to jump into your arms, you first have to have them jump into your arms while sitting down on the ground. Then you build to jumping into your arms from sitting in a chair. Then you build to jumping into your arms while standing up. This progression can take weeks or months to complete.
- Have a light leash on your dog so that you can guide them if they get confused.
- Make each leg of the trick journey fun and enjoyable for your dog. Embrace SHORT sessions. Choose a time of day when they are energetic and fresh and hungry!
How to Teach Your Dog the Leg Weave
The goal is to have your dog weave through your legs as you are walking in long strides.
HOT TIP, as you step out with your first leg, you can roll up onto your tippy toes so that it gives a bit more room for the dog to pass under your leg!
THE BEGINNING STAGE:
We start the trick by having a great treat and clicker ready. Start with your dog in front of you. Take your first step with your left leg first, lower your left hand so it will be right in front of your dog’s nose, as you lure the dog through your legs, around to the outside of your left leg. CLICK/REWARD. Next, take a stride with your right leg, have treat in your right hand as you lure the dog through and around to the outside of your right leg. CLICK/REWARD. You may find that you need to hand the treat off from one hand to the other as the dog comes around toward the outside of your leg. Just be sure to keep that treat low and close to the dog’s nose as you lure the dog to the correct position. Make sure to only do one leg, click/reward. If your pooch gets distracted, no worries, just encourage him with a bit of enthusiastic praise and get that reward in front of his nose to gain his attention and start again.
THE MIDDLE STAGE:
It’s time to add the command WEAVE. Now you are going to do the same movement as in the beginning stage with the lure, but you are going to have him weave through both legs, and then when he comes around to the outside of your second leg stride, CLICK/REWARD. Each time you begin the lure through the leg, you’ll say, “GO WEAVE” Up the reps until the dog is weaving very comfortably and without hesitation for several strides.
THE FADING STAGE:
It’s time for the lure to fade! When your dog really understands the concept, it’s time to fade the lure so that he starts the weave with NO LURE. Go back to smaller amounts of weave to get the COMMAND/CLICK/REWARD. As his confidence and understanding grows, you can grow the number of strides he does before he gets the CLICK/TREAT. It’s aok to point with your finger or encourage.
THE FINAL STAGE:
Now your dog responds to the command “GO WEAVE” as you take your first step, keep stepping, and your dog is weaving through your legs for 10 or 15 ft. CLICK/ REWARD.
TRICK FOR TREATS is your commitment to your dog.
Don’t skip the reward at the end!