Sunday, 9 February 2014

Shooting Superman

Most dog owners acknowledge that a good recall, sit and stay is enough obedience to get them through.  Occasionally you can tag other commands onto that list such as 'go to bed' or 'go to the toilet' but largely the list of necessary commands is fairly small.  And, when speaking to a friend recently about her dog's training, she told me; "she comes back when I ask, she sits when I ask and she stays, I don't really need her to do anything else..."  This is true; if your dog does everything you need it to do, then why push it for more?

A different friend once told me that "with all of the ifs in the world, we could put Paris in a bottle..." But, my problem is that my brain is iffy.  By this, of course, I mean that it likes to ask the question 'what if...?'  This doesn't always serve me well as it often leads me to panic about things that might happen....but often don't anyway.  However, it is also the part of my brain that leads me to try new things; like sewing which can then lead to me getting hair brained ideas about quitting my day job to sew forever!

Anyway, the point I was getting at there is that I like to see how far I can push Caesar - if he can do that, then can he do this?  This has led me to discover some excellent tricks.  Now, I'm a total training novice - I've never had, nor trained, a dog before so these are not expert tips.  However, I thought it might be fun to explain how I taught two of my favourite tricks; "BANG" and "Superman".

Link for those who can't watch:

If on carpet, he can do a really convincing fall!

How to teach it:
1.  Make sure your "down" is great - do this by holding a treat to the floor - don't push your dog down.

2.  When the dog is in the down position, make a fist with the treat inside and gently guide the dog into a roll.  I used my other hand to support a little - again never force your dog into a roll - just guide by holding them gently as they move into position.

3.  Increase that to a roll --> stay - this is the hard part.  I did it by holding the treat in my hand and letting Caesar lick my fist until he had stayed long enough.

4.  This is the first command that you need to use.  Say "Bang!" and then using hand signals and a treat: down, roll, stay.
5.  Continue this until your dog automatically knows "bang" means down, roll, stay.
6.  I found that Caesar needed a few sessions to get all of this and, as he's the kind of dog that is OBSESSED by food then he quickly figured if he fell on his back from any position he would still get the treat which is why, when in a carpeted room, he actually looks as if he's been shot.

What does Superman Do?
Warning: I learnt at this point to be careful what hand signal you use to show that you would like your dog to do this.  The last thing you want is to reach for a paw and get two paws fly up and hit you in the face - yes that has happened to me.  Think about the signal that you use and don't use it for anything else - I accidentally used my 'stay' signal to teach Caesar to ballet dance.  That could be extremely interesting when he attempts his next Good Citizen award.


1. Make sure dog is in a calm comfortable sit.
2.  Ask for the dogs paw (this needs to be a previously trained trick.
3.  Do not hold dogs paw but allow them to rest it on you, gently moving it higher above the head.
4.  As soon as it's there, treat them lots! - Make sure the dog can get down at any time (don't hold their paws).
5.  Repeat using the word "superman".

This trick is simple to teach but requires a few training sessions.  Caesar now does his from a stand - he doesn't like doing it from a sit.  

So that's how to teach "Bang" and "Superman".  Once you've finished, you can combine for a hilarious Superman gets shot down from the sky combination!  Have fun!

Have you got any good trick tips?  Let me know if you try these - pictures would be fab!