Think Your Dog's Tricks Are Just for Fun? How They Can Help in Real-Life Situations

Play Dead

Playing dead can be a simple way to calm an anxious dog. The play-dead position can be naturally relaxing for dogs who willingly lie this way. If your dog is upset, excited or just needs a breather, ask him to play dead. This trick can also be useful if your dog is pacing around on the couch or bed while you’re trying to settle yourself.

The trick can also come in handy if you need to check your dog for injury or examine him for ticks or other parasites. The play-dead position allows you better access to areas that can be hard to examine, like under the legs or the belly. To get your dog used to staying in the side-lay position even while he is being touched, start with slight touches for short periods of time. Be sure to reward him for staying still while you examine him. Gradually extend the time you ask him to play dead and keep the rewards coming.

Hand Targeting

Teaching your dog to hand target has many uses.A dog who jumps on people when greeting them can becan be taught to touch his nose to a visitor’s hand in greeting instead. If your dog is especially excited by visitors, ask him to hand target multiple times between people or switch hands until the need to jump up has passed.

Hand targeting is also a simple way to get a dog to move away from an off-limits piece of furniture or food that has been left on the counter, and it can also be helpful for pet owners who cannot lift their dogs. Use the technique to move your dog onto the sofa or into his crate by asking him to touch his nose to a hand held directly in the area.

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