Sunday, 1 May 2011

Pet Spectacular Skits: Dancing with the Dogs

Posted by Blog Administrator at 23:16
When your dog has learned more than one trick, you can start putting several tricks together. There’s even a dog sport where people do this—to music. It’s called musical freestyle, and people and dogs “dance” to music.
 
Basically, they do a series of tricks and behaviors in time to a song. What’s really fun about it is that the dogs really seem to get into it. Some dogs even have favorite songs.
 
Musical freestyle can be really fun to fool around with, even if you’re just listening to the radio and doing various tricks, such as spins and twirls, that seem to fit with the music. Start by putting on a favorite song and practice heeling (walking with your dog on your left side) to the beat of the music. From there, throw in a few spins and twirls at your side to get a feel for how much time it takes for your dog to perform her tricks.  

 
For either freestyle or just performing for your friends and family, you may want a routine. That’s a fixed plan of what you and your dog will do and when. When you come up with a routine, go through each step in the right order with your dog, and reinforce her after each trick.
 
Remember, although you know all the tricks will be put together into one big routine, she doesn’t yet. Go through the whole routine, doing each trick individually a few times to make sure your dog remembers them all. When she does, you can begin to go through the routine a little faster, stopping to give her a treat after every few tricks.
 
Even though youwon’t be reinforcing her after every trick, your dog will stay interested as long as you praise her. Not knowing when she is going to get the next treat will also keep her attention on you because she won’t want to miss a treat. You can gradually increase the number of tricks she does between treats until she can do the whole routine in one go. Remember to praise her (maybe say “good dog!”) after each trick, even though shedoesn’t get a treat until the end.
 
After you practice your whole routine a few times, you will probably find that your dog remembers the order of the tricks. Dogs like this sort of game, and yours may start going from trick to trick even without a signal from you because she knows what’s next. To keep her happy, every now and then give her a treat in the middle of your routine.
 
It will come as a pleasant surprise. Some tricks blendtogether very smoothly. For example, backing up is a good setup for many other tricks. You could have your dog back up and then spin, twirl, roll over, wave, bow, or sit up—all at whatever distance your dog backed up to. The first couple of times you try this, you may need to remind your dog to stay away and not creep back toward you.
 
Spins and twirls flow together fairly well, too, creating a picture of a canine tornado. Several spins in a row look like your dog is chasing her tail. I like to have one of my dogs do shake and wave one right after the other, without me actually taking her paw for a shake.
 
If your signals are timed right, your dog will look like she is dancing in time with the music. You could leave your dog on a stay, call her to you, have her sit, and then shake her paw for a job well done. There are many combinations, and anything goes.
 
Most dogs enjoy working with their people, and for them it’s just playing. When you can work together happily, it opens the door to many opportunities for showing off your dog’s skills and just having fun together.
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