Spin is a cool dog trick for you and your dog to get started with. Teaching your dog to "spin" is quick, easy and fun - especially if you have the clicker charged and have already introduced the target stick to your dog.
Your ultimate goal when you complete your spin training is to have your dog enthusiastically perform fast, tight spins in either direction - at your verbal request.
Building The "Spin" Dog Trick
The spin dog trick
is taught or built the same way we piece together any new dog trick or behavior.
We start out by rewarding a very small and easy piece of the complete behavior and then gradually increase our requirements step-by-step.
The following 7 steps are how I taught my Shih Tzu Macy the "spin" dog trick. We worked our way through these steps over a 5 day period which included many short (2-3 minutes) training sessions. You and your dog may work your way through the steps quicker, or you may be slower, it doesn't matter either way.
*Watch the video above if you are unclear about any of the following steps.
With your dog standing in front of you (or sitting like Macy does) hold your target stick down at your dog's eye level
. Now move the stick just to the left of your dog's nose. At the first sign of any interest or movement towards the target stick you should immediately click and treat your dog
Repeat this step a number of times until your dog touches the target stick quickly each time.
This time you move the target stick from your dog's nose around to the side of his/her body
. Ideally your dog will follow the target stick around to the side at which time you click and treat. This step requires one quarter of a full spin
(or 90 degrees).
Continue to practice this quarter turn until you believe your dog is ready to do a half spin.
Now lets step it up a bit
, it's time to make it a little more difficult for your dog to receive a click and treat. Continue just as you have been in steps 1 and 2 but now take the target stick from your dog's nose right around 180 degrees
(half a full spin). Once your dog follows the target stick around he/she will be standing in the opposite direction
to the way he started. Continue to click and treat as normal (and give encouragement and praise when necessary!)
Once your dog is comfortable turning around 180 degrees it is relatively simple to get a full spin (360 degrees).
To start with slowly guide your target stick around a full 360 degree rotation - if your dog doesn't follow the stick for the full circle, simply go back and practice step 3 some more. Continue to click and treat when your dog completes a full "spin" circle.
Now you've got the "spin" behavior in it's most basic form you can ask for 2 spins or 3 spins
click and treat faster, tighter spins. To make it easier for your dog to follow it's important to add only one new task or variable per session.
At this point you can withhold your click and treat for slow or sloppy spins.
When you are absolutely confident
that your dog will follow the target stick it is time to add your cue word
or label for the behavior. I use "spin"
but you can use others such as "chase tail"
. Say your cue "spin" just before you present the target stick
to your dog.
What you are doing in this step is building an association in your dog's mind between your "spin" cue and the act of him/her spinning.
This final step is all about polishing up the trick
so you are ready for a public performance!
Firstly you will want to phase out the use of the target stick. Do this by gradually shortening the length of the stick so that the point gets further and further away from your dog's nose. The target stick will eventually disappear into your hand - at which time you will be able to use a hand signal only if you wish.
When your dog quickly responds to your verbal "spin" cue without the need for the target stick you can also begin to fade out the clicker and the treats.
An All In One Clicker & Target Stick
Things To Keep In Mind When
Teaching The "Spin" Dog Trick
- If your dog tries to back away rather than spin when you first start out, you can move your training session into the corner of the room or against a wall.
- I don't recommend it but you can gently guide your dog into the spin movement with a collar and short leash if he/she is struggling with the target stick or food lure. With one hand guide your dog from the collar and with the other hand gently guide the hips around.
- Before you begin teaching the spin (or any other dog trick) make sure your dog is physically fit and sound enough to perform what you are requiring of him/her. The spin trick does place extra pressure on your dog's hips and feet. It also helps to conduct your training sessions on nice level ground with some cushion in it.
- If you encounter any problems when working through the steps above, simply go back a step to where you and your dog were comfortable. If you're looking to use clicker training to teach tricks, obedience commands or solve problem behaviors I'd highly recommend that you study and implement the lessons outlined in this great ebook - The 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer.