There is nothing more amusing to visitors than showing off your dog’s obedience through tricks.
I always feel so proud that my dog knows that it is worth her while too as she will be rewarded with praise and a yummy treat. An all-time classic is “Bang, Bang! You’re dead!” Wondering how to teach your dog to play dead? On NolongerWild, we will be examining two techniques in which to teach your dog this awesome, fun trick. In addition, spending time with your dog like this actually strengthens the bond between you two.
It is actually easier than you would think to teach your dog to play dead. Obviously, patience is a prerequisite and you may need to do a lot of repetitions to teach your dog this trick.
Before you can do that, your dog should know some basic commands first:
What You Need To Teach Your Dog To Play Dead
Positive reinforcement training always works best. This is when you praise them and give them a treat when they do what you want. Dogs will figure out rather quickly that certain actions are followed by a snack and this is what forms the basis of following the commands given.
You may need to lure your dog with a treat at times. It needs to be something that smells good as you will be literally leading him/her by the nose to follow through with certain actions.
Biscuits, chewies, fruit or even chicken can work. Give him/her only little bits at a time as you will be repeating the actions over and over until he/she knows what to do before moving onto the next step. Make sure that you have enough at hand for training.
Some trainers prefer to use clickers. The sound from this device acts as an audio signal when the correct action is followed. Personally, I find that by verbalizing this to my dog with phrases like “Good girl” or “Clever dog” works just as well. However, it is completely up to you as to whether you want to use a clicker or not.
Before You Begin To Teach Your Dog To Play Dead
For training to be optimal it’s vital that your dog is relaxed. Consider taking your pooch for a short walk before you begin to get rid of excess energy. Maybe play some tug-of-war or catch. This is particularly necessary if your dog is still young or hyper-energetic.
Conduct your training in a quiet area with no distractions. Your dog needs to be focused on what you are showing him/her. Depending on your canine’s learning ability, you may decide to conduct training over several days instead of all in one go. This will also depend on whether he/she understands all the other commands needed and whether or not he/she already knows how to roll over.
How To Teach Your Dog To Play Dead
Either of these techniques will work in teaching your dog how to play dead. The only difference here is the order in which you teach your dog action sequence.
In both instances, if your dog is struggling to follow through with an action, particularly the rollover part, you may need to use the treat as a lure to guide him/her. If you find that your dog is not able to complete the next action rather go back to the previous step and repeat. You may be moving too fast for your dog to keep up.
This first technique teaches your dog the sequence in the order that he/she needs to follow them through to play dead.
1. Get your dog to sit and go down/lay/rest. Take note which hip your dog favors when sitting as it will be easier for him/her to roll in that direction.
If your dog struggles with lying down, simply place a treat below their nose and bring it down between the front paws. As he/she lowers himself/herself to the ground draw the treat out towards you along the floor and give it to him/her once he/she is completely flat on the ground.
2. Take a treat and pass it in front of his/her nose towards the shoulder. This is to get the dog to roll over onto his/her side. Be sure to gently guide your dog physically when needed.
Feel free to scratch his/her belly once they are in the correct position over and above the treats and clicking/vocal praise. Bring the treat back over the shoulder if your pooch has the tendency to roll over all the way before giving it to him/her.
3. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
4. Continue without touching your dog. A hand signal of flipping your palm down and up will also show your pet what it is that you want them to do. Others prefer to already use the pistol hand signal at this point to create the association with the phrase “bang”.
5. Next, you want your dog to lay his/her head flat on the ground when playing dead. Begin by giving him/her the treat when they do this. Slowly extend the amount of time between this action repeating “Stay” and the feeding of the treat so that the dog realizes he/she needs to keep still before he/she gets rewarded. Use your hands to keep your dog down gently if he/she wants to spring up immediately. When you want your pet to get up say so by commanding “Okay”, “Come” or “Up.”
6. If you haven’t started using the pistol hand signal with the “Bang” command, now would be the time when your dog is at ease in this position and rolls over onto his/her side. Remember to fade out the other signals and commands until your dog understands that the pistol signal and “Bang” requires him/her to follow through with the whole sequence to get his/her well-deserved treat.
This is called back chaining and the steps are done in reverse starting with the rollover and laying still. You then work your way backward as each step is mastered from laying down to sitting. I favor this technique because the dog learns from the beginning what the most important part of the trick is and so it’s reinforced the most. The last step is often the most difficult to teach your dog so it makes sense to me to start there.
Whichever technique you choose, remember that to teach your dog to play dead or any other trick does require a lot of patience and repetition. Practice makes perfect! If your dog gets frustrated it is best to leave it and continue the next day. Please feel free to comment below on which technique worked best for you or any other tips you have for fellow pooch parents.