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Teaching Your Dog to "Sit Up" or "Beg"

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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Teaching your dog a few simple tricks is fun and entertaining for both you and your pet. It's best if your dog knows and reliably responds to the basic obedience commands of sit, stay and down before teaching him to perform tricks. Most tricks are built on basic obedience work anyway and, in the process of being taught "the basics," your dog will have learned to pay attention to you during training sessions.

If your dog has an orthopedic problem, check with your veterinarian before proceeding with more advanced training. Even relatively simple tricks can place unnecessary stress on bones and joints that are in any way compromised.

Successful of training of your dog hinges on rewarding the desired behavioral response in a timely fashion. The most valued rewards differ from dog to dog: For some, food it is the most powerful reward, for others, praise or petting are what they crave. Some dogs will do whatever their owners want them to just to have a little playtime. Find the reward that best motivates your dog to learn and stick with it. Work with your dog daily in 5 to 15 minute sessions. Keep training fun, and end sessions on a high note with reward for a job well done. If you feel yourself getting frustrated or tired, quit and try again later.
To teach your dog to beg, first put him in the sit position and have him remain there without moving for a few seconds. Take a food treat and hold it just above his nose so he must look up to see it. Tell your dog to "beg." If he jumps at it, return him to the sit position. Many dogs will naturally raise their front limbs and sit on their haunches when the food treat is placed slightly above their nose. You must not give the treat until your dog is balanced on his rear limbs. If your dog is wobbly, try standing behind him with your legs supporting his back. You can also gently raise and lift his front feet while giving the command. Help steady him until he finds his balance. Once he gets the idea, most dogs will sit up easily once they see you elevating the food treat. Don't reward for half-done tricks; only reward the behavior that you are seeking as a final result.

Continue to practice this trick over and over again. Always use a happy singsong voice and lots of positive reinforcement. Eventually, your dog will understand and will readily sit up and beg.

The keys to success in teaching your dog tricks are patience, practice, praise, and persistence. When training your dog, every step he takes in the right direction should be rewarded as though he had just won the lottery. Tricks are fun – and learning how to do them should be fun, too.

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