Have you ever wondered who will hold your flag on the next 4th of July parade? Mila and I have just finished a new, neat dog trick – holding a pole. In two easy video tutorial lessons we are showing you how to train the exercise with your clicker and some treats.
It took some sessions, but both of us had tons of fun with learning this trick!
PHASE 1: Reward any interaction
First you need to get your dog used to the pole or stick you are using. Many dogs tend to shy away from objects larger than themselves and objects touching them. If your dog is very sensitive and scared easily, choose a smaller object, such as an umbrella. The pole should also fit your dog’s size. Mid-sized to larger dogs will be able to hold a broom upright, while a Jack Russel Terrier may experience problems with holding the balance, while he does perfect with a large wooden spoon or so.
- Once you have found the right object for your dog, first hold it in front of your dog HORIZONTALLY and click & reward every interaction your dog undertakes with the object using her paw.
TIP: If your dog already knows the “shake” command (putting her paw into your hand), you can use this to initiate interaction. OR you can try and rub the stick against her leg.
- Once she is putting her paw on the stick in horizontal position, only reward her putting her paw on the stick up to her joint! This is important, because later your dog will really need to cling to the stick to be able to hold it upright.
Over time also let her hold this pose a little longer, before you click & reward.
PHASE 2: Get her used to feeling the stick on her body
Once she is reliably touching the stick wit her paw up to the joint, angle the stick a little bit and lean it against her chest/ neck. Stay on the opposite side of her face with the upper end of the stick for now. Raising it too quick could confuse or scare her. Click & reward her pawing the stick held diagonally against her chest/ neck.
PHASE 3: Raise the pole
Now we start to gradually raise the stick until it is upright and try to switch sides with the upper end. This step may take a while and your dog may first shy away from the upright stick. But eventually she will place her paw around the stick held against her neck upright on the same side.
TIP: If you want your dog to perform the trick on both sides, train one first until the exercise is complete, then start training the other side.
PHASE 4: Let it go
Once your dog is holding onto the upright pole, you can try and let go of it. Make sure the stick does not fall and scare your dog.
From here it is only a few more sessions until your dog holds the stick reliably and perfectly without your help.
In this second video I am not using my the clicker, but use a keyword (or marker word) instead. A keyword replaces the “click” and works the exact same way. It should be a very unique word, only used for training.
We hope you had fun learning this trick together with us.
If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to contact me.