Pet Classic Skills: Bow

By Blog Administrator - 23:45

Always a crowd pleaser, bow is cute and classy at the same time. You can even switch it in as a greeting for more distinguished guests if you don’t think they’d like to shake a canine paw. For teaching bow, I like to use a touch stick and a clicker.

That’s because you can use the touch stick to guide your dog into the correct position without using your hand. This makes it easier to eventually fade away the guide and have your dog work from just a verbal cue—after she knows the trick, of course.  

You’ll use the clicker to mark when she does the correct behavior. Beforehand, think about what cue you want to use. Although some dogs don’t have any trouble, mine seem to get a little confused because “bow” sounds a lot like “down.” Another possibility is “ta-da!” like a grand finale.
My Australian Shepherd takes her cue from the word “manners” when I ask her, “Where are your manners?” You can also bow yourself and use that as a signal to your dog.
Start by reviewing the touch stick with your dog in case she’s a little rusty. Remember, she is supposed to touch the end of the stick with her nose. After a few repetitions, you are ready to move on to teaching bow. Gradually lower your stick each time she touches it, making sure to click and treat. Before long, the stick will be on the ground, which is just where you want it.
Many dogs will automatically go into the bow position with just that. If your dog is having trouble figuring out that she needs to drop her elbows, you can help her with a physical hint such as by putting slight pressure on her shoulders. This will encourage her to drop down in front.
You want her elbows to be touching the ground. If your dog lies down when she goes to touch the stick on the ground, just hold your free hand under her belly to keep her rear from coming down. (You can have the clicker in this hand if you need to.) You can also slip your foot under her belly before you try the trick again. Once she realizes she can’t drop her rear, she’ll raise it back to the bow position.
Click and treat. At this point, you can add your cue. After a while, your dog will figure out that when you give your cue, she is to drop her front end and keep her rear up. Once she is bowing consistently without the help of your hand, you can try it without the touch stick. She should bow on your cue.
If she doesn’t, repeat the exercise a few more times with the stick to make the trick stick in her mind.

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