With Halloween just around the corner, now's the perfect time to get those dog tricks ready to treat! Festive Halloween tricks are a fun way to spend quality time with your dog this autumn. Dogs of all sizes and ages can learn these tricks. Plus, they are sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Teaching tricks to your dog is great to strengthen your relationship and provide them with enrichment. Tricks can also help build your dog's confidence. They should always be taught using positive reinforcement training methods.
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Beginner Halloween trick
Wave To The Trick-Or-Treaters!
If you have a dog who is worried about people, or a dog on the opposite side who is overly excited about people it can be helpful to use tricks to build your dog's confidence. It can also be a way to involve your dog in the Halloween festivities and keep them comfortable and distanced from trick-or-treaters. If you plan to bring your dog trick-or-treating this is a cute trick for your dog to show off to neighbors.
1. Take a treat your dog is excited about and hold it in a closed fist in front of your dog.
2. Let your dog explore your hand and try to puzzle over what will get them the treat. Most dogs will start by sniffing at your hand, just ignore that. Wait for your dog to paw at your hand and then click/praise and reward your dog with the treat in your hand.
3. Repeat over several practice sessions. After your dog constantly paws at your closed fist with a treat inside, try it without a treat in your fist. When your dog paws at your hand without the treat, praise and give a treat to your dog.
4. Hold up your open hand to your dog. When your dog connects their paw to your hand praise/click and treat them.
5. When your dog is constantly making contact with your hand, hold your hand in front of your dog. But, do it further away from them — so they can't reach your hand.
6. The reaching for your hand will become the "wave" trick. As your dog lifts their paw up toward you, praise/click and give them a treat.
7. As your dog consistently reaches toward your hand, introduce the verbal cue of your choice. This can be cued with "wave" or "hello."
8. The more practice the trick, the more you can move your hand further away as you cue the wave trick. That way, you can build up to having your dog wave at other people.
Intermediate Halloween trick
Teaching "Play Dead"
The perfect spooky trick this Halloween is for your dog to "play dead" and then pop back up like a puppy zombie! For this trick, your dog will lay down and then flop onto their side. They will lay still with their head down.
- Lots of small-sized dog treats your dog is excited about
- Clicker (if you are clicker training)
1. Start by cueing your dog to lie down or by using a treat and lure your dog into a down position.
2. Put a treat on your dog's nose. Then lure your dog's head back over one of their shoulders. As your dog follows the treat, they will then naturally start to rotate their entire body.
3. When your dog rolls back onto their side, stop rotating your hand back. Bring your hand down to the ground. As your dog's face goes down to the ground praise, click, and treat your dog.
4. Repeat the above steps over several practice sessions. As you practice your dog's movement, it will get more fluid as they understand what you're looking for.
5. When your dog is consistently following your lure into the "play dead" position, it's time to introduce the verbal cue of your choice. You can use any cue you want like "bang," "dead," "zombie," or "splat." As your dog follows the lure, say your cue of choice as your dog flops onto their side.
6. The more you practice, the earlier you can use your verbal cue. You can then fade out the need to physically lure your dog into the "play dead" position. Continue praising and treating your dog after they are in the play dead position.
7. When your dog can successfully "play dead" without a lure, you can then start to build on the duration your dog holds the position. Start slowly by adding on seconds (before you praise and click) to release your dog from the "dead" position — and rise like a zombie.
Advanced Halloween trick
Give a trick-or-treater a gift from your dog
For this trick, your dog will be sharing a toy treat with you. They will do this by dropping their toy into a trick-or-treat bucket. This trick is sure to impress your friends and family this spooky season. Plus, it's a festive way to show off your dog's skills.
- Halloween trick-or-treat bucket of your choice
- Tennis ball or festive small dog toy of your choice
- Clicker (if you are clicker training)
- High-value dog treats
1. Show your dog the Halloween bucket and let them explore it. Praise and treat your dog for showing interest in the bucket. This is especially important if you have a dog who tends to get nervous or wary about new objects.
2. When your dog is comfortable with the Halloween bucket, give your dog a ball or other small toy that will easily fit inside. If your dog likes to fetch, you can toss the toy for your dog to retrieve. Then, hold the trick-or-treat bucket in front of your dog's face. Ask your dog to drop the toy. Since the bucket is directly in front of your dog, the toy will fall into the bucket. Then, praise and treat your dog.
3. Repeat this over several practice sessions. As your dog drops the ball or toy into the bucket, begin introducing a verbal cue of your choice like "trick-or-treat."
4. After several repetitions, your dog will begin to understand the goal of this activity — to drop their toy into the bucket. If at any point your dog misses don't say anything. Simply hand them the toy again and ask for them to put it in the bucket.
5. Keep practicing the trick, but keep your training sessions short and fun. This is a more advanced trick for your dog. They will have to figure out how to aim the toy into the bucket. So be sure to treat and praise your dog each time.
6. When your dog is successfully dropping the toy into the bucket in front of them it's time to make the trick more complicated. Hold the trick-or-treat bucket further from your dog and from a couple of inches away from your dog. Build the distance up slowly by asking your dog to move from a further distance to get the treat into the bucket. Do this slowly and incrementally by a few inches at a time.
7. The more you practice, the more your dog will be able to independently drop their "gift" into the Halloween bucket. Practice by adding more distance and distractions. Then, your dog will be ready to show this trick off to your friends and family this Halloween and autumn!
Impress your friends and family with your dog's new tricks!
If you're looking to involve your dog in the Halloween festivities this year don't forget to teach them a few tricks! With a little practice, your pup will be ready to impress your friends and family with their spooky skills. Dogs of all ages and sizes can learn these beginners, intermediate, and advanced tricks. Just don't forget to treat them for a trick well done!