How to Teach Your Dog to Play Dead - dog 57


 How to Teach Your Dog to Play Dead  

Teaching your dog new tricks and skills can be a great exercise not only to strengthen your bonds but also to stimulate your fur on a mental level, because this type of training, if done well, can improve your dog's attention span, encouraging the use of cognitive planning and job-making functions. decision and increase his motivation. All this, of course, will only be possible if the training is carried out following an animal-friendly methodology, using positive reinforcement and completely avoiding intimidating or punishing the dog if he does not do what we ask or does not understand the exercise. 

One of the keys to starting to teach your dog a new movement is to break it down into small steps in the form of "small goals" and promote their achievement until the result is obtained. In this dog57 article, we tell you to point by point how to teach a dog to play dead, which is a fun skill for both. 

You may also be interested in: How to train your dog to lie down

Ask your dog to lie down 

The goal we want to achieve is for our dog to lie on its side and remain still, so we will start from the basic lying position. 

If your dog already knows this, ask him to lie down in a stable sphinx position, i.e. Facing forward, with his chest and stomach on the ground and with one front and one back leg on each side of his body. If your furry friend does not know how to lie down on command, we recommend that you read the article “How to Teach My Dogs to Lie Down” and put these guidelines into practice before continuing with training. 

Once your dog is lying down, praise him and reinforce this behavior by giving him a small piece of food or, if you are using a clicker, by clicking the moment the dog's belly touches the ground and then offering the reinforcer. 

Start with food 

The easiest way to teach a dog to play dead is through a training methodology called "lure," which consists of directing the dog's movement using food as a lure. 

Once you can keep the dog lying down, bring a piece of food to his nose, and move your hand in a straight line towards the right or left side (depending on your preference) of the animal, without letting go, keeping in mind that this will be the side he will face when the dog is playing dead. Performing this movement by hand, the dog will have to turn its neck to the side to follow the temptation with its nose. When he does this gesture, activate the tapping device or verbally praise him and let go of the food. 

Repeat this step a few times until the dog gets used to this neck role and does it faster, faster, and with more independence.

Increases range of motion 

For the next step, you need to extend the movement of your hand and slowly bring the lure closer to your dog's spine. As the curve increases, your furry will have to turn his neck more to reach the food, and as a result, his weight will fall on the other side. By doing this, his hips will also rotate and his hind legs will be together and facing the same way, as they do at rest. The moment this happens, give him the food you are carrying.

At this point, the dog is already halfway between the initial and final lying position, as we guide him to end up completely lying on his side with his head on the floor. 

Turn your head toward the ground 

If you keep moving the bait toward the animal's back, its body will eventually fall completely on its side except for its head, immobilizing it trying to reach the food. Once you reach this position, begin to move your hand until you have it on the floor, keeping it in front of the dog's snout at all times and trying not to get up. The moment the dog puts his head on the floor, even for a second, "click" the clicker or say "Okay!" And they gave him food. 

Practice this movement as many times as necessary until the dog understands it and begins to perform it more quickly and accurately. Some dogs tend to lift their paws slightly upward when in this position, especially the hindquarters (as if asking for a belly rub). You can build on this behavior and reinforce it by picking it up with the tapping device or verbally if you want to include it as part of the trick. 

Increase time before boost 

Now that we have the dog in the final position, we must increase the time the animal can remain without moving, and to achieve this it is necessary to delay the delivery of the reinforcer a little more each time. 

As mentioned in the previous step, the moment you get your dog to put his head on the floor lying on his side, you should enthusiastically congratulate him and give him the reinforcer immediately, before he raises his head, so that the dog understands that it is this specific movement that makes him the prize. Repeat this as many times as necessary, and when you see the dog begin to put his head down on his own, wait a few seconds before giving him the food.

Practice with this time and then increase it to five, seven, 10 seconds, etc., until you achieve your goal. Once it has been able to withstand a long time, randomly switch the criteria. (Sometimes the prize is awarded immediately, other times after 10 seconds, other times after 2 seconds, etc.). 

If you see that your dog is unable to hold the time that you ask for, it is because your standards are too high, take a step back and ask for less time. If your dog knows the "stay" command. 

Master the visual signal 

When your fur is already able to follow the movement of your hand and wait for a while in the final position, it is time to remove the aid, i.e. stop feeding the animal. 

Practice a few times to make sure your dog is clear about the movement, then lead him the same way but without any food on hand. If your dog is still doing the exercise, activate the clicker or praise him and give him the booster, which this time you should take out of a bag or pocket. If your dog is ignoring you by not bringing him food, simply try to reduce the size of the treat in your hand more and more until you can eventually get rid of it completely or change it to a less valuable food. 

Once you no longer need to hold the food in your hand, guide it more and more subtly or with less capacity until it is just a simple cue and start doing it a little further away from the dog. 

Add a verbal command 

The final step in any exercise is to assign a verbal command for movement, so during these sessions of teaching your dog to play dead, you will also need to choose a command. When your dog responds accurately to your hand signal, start saying your chosen command loud and clear when you ask the dog to perform the trick. Activate the clicker and strengthen the dog each time it performs the movement correctly. Choose a simple and clear command that is not confused with other commands or words used daily. 

In time, you will be able to do without the signal and only use the command, if you wish. However, in these cases, dogs tend to respond more accurately to visual gestures than to auditory commands, so don't rush to shake off the cue and practice this move often before dispensing so as not to confuse your furry friend. 

Possible problems when teaching your dog to play dead 

As with any other skill you try to teach your dog, sometimes problems arise that make it difficult to continue training. In this particular case, you may encounter one of the following situations: 

The dog is easily distracted. If your dog is unable to focus his attention during training, he may become bored or frustrated and lose motivation. Reducing the duration of sessions (10 minutes a day is enough), keeping them in places with less distraction, and including playing time to make them more dynamic are good options to avoid this problem. On the other hand, if your dog is still a puppy, he may not be able to understand exercise well and may prefer other activities. 

The dog complains during exercise or finds it difficult to do so. Keep in mind that this exercise requires the dog to perform a body rotation, which can be difficult for very large breeds, animals of advanced age, or with mobility problems. If you notice that it takes a lot of effort for your frill to do this, you better choose to teach him other, simpler tricks, there are so many! 

The dog cannot remain stationary in the end position. If the problem is that your dog is moving around a lot, you can do simple self-control exercises or try to teach him the "stay" command before starting to train this trick. If your dog is a very young or very active breed, you can also choose to teach him other, more dynamic skills or start doing some dog sports with him. 

The dog appears frightened or stands up suddenly. Lying on their side or face-up is a position of weakness for a dog, because when they do so they are very exposed and it will be difficult for them to get up to escape or defend themselves in case of danger. This is why it is essential that the dog is comfortable and calm when we do this exercise and that he has enough confidence in you and the environment to adopt this situation. If your fur has any fear-related issues, such as phobias or insecurities, you should work on this beforehand with the help of a professional if you deem it necessary. 

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