How to Teach a Dog to Twirl
Teaching your dog to twirl on command is an easy way to provide him with mental exercise and to have fun bonding. With some really good treats, a little patience and a sense of humor, you'll have your dog spinning circles in no time!
Before beginning, we advise you to read some articles or a couple books on clicker training. Clicker training not only is the quickest way to teach your dog tricks without using force, it's been proven scientifically to cut training time drastically.
Tip #1 - Give your clicker meaning for your dog. Grab a handful of high-value treats, such as chicken, diced cheese or some hard-boiled egg, and sit down with your dog. SImply click and hand him a yummy. Repeat about 20 times. By the end of this session, your dog should understand that the click equals a treat, every time.
Tip #2 - Show your dog the treat and guide him slowly around in a circle. Click once your dog is facing the same direction he started in and has completed the circle. Repeat the process, hopefully without laughing, until he figures out where his feet go and turns in a circle readily.
Tip #3 - Place the treats on a nearby table and use the same hand motion as when you were holding a treat to guide your dog in a circle. Hopefully, your pup will happily turns in a circle. Click and treat. If he doesn't turn in a circle, rub one of the treats between your fingers and set it back down. Use that hand to lure your dog in a circle. Click and treat.
Tip #4 - Once your dog spins in a circle with just the hand lure, introduce a verbal cue for the behavior. Good ones include "spin," "twirl," or "circle," or "chase your tail!" Start to lure your dog with your empty hand and about quarter of the way through the circle, give your verbal command. Click and treat once your dog finishes the complete spin.
Tip #5 - Continue practicing with the verbal command until your pup happily spins in a circle with just a hand lure or spoken cue. Don't forget to laugh when your dog gets dizzy!
By Kea Grace
Caution: Take your practice slowly when introducing a new behavior to your dog. Too much practice at once can strain his muscles and ligaments.
About the Author
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.