There are some commands that won’t serve any functional purpose in your dog’s life, but are great fun to teach and will help to strengthen the bond between you and your four-legged companion. One example of this is teaching her to crawl. Whether your dog is big or small, young or old, this is a simple-to-teach command that will put a smile on your face every time.
Teaching Your Dog To Crawl
Although teaching your dog to crawl is simple, doing so will require a lot of patience and perseverance on your part. This is a progressive command, so you will be gradually building up your dog’s ability to crawl through each practice session. Below is a step-by-step guide to train your dog to crawl like a champion:
1. Get your dog to lie down. Sit close to your dog with a treat in your hand and command her to lie down. Hold the treat close to the floor to encourage her to go low then reward her with a treat each time she lies down. Repeat this training a few more times until your dog understands and responds to your verbal “down” command. Once your dog knows how to lie down and stay there, teaching the crawl becomes much easier!
2. Encourage your dog to crawl. Now, take out another treat and show it to your dog. Be sure to use a treat that your dog is fond of in order to grab her attention and interest. Then, whilst she’s still lying down on the floor, give the command “Crawl!” while dragging the treat slowly away from her to encourage her to crawl after it. When she crawls forward reward her with praise and the treat. If your dog stands up and walks forward towards the treat, move it away and give the “down” command. Keep trying until your dog moves forward by crawling, then instantly reward and praise her.
Repeat the exercise several times, moving the treat further and further each session. Remember to keep rewarding your dog every time she obeys the command, giving her a treat and lavishing her with praise. This will keep reinforce the behaviour as well as keeping her motivated. As with all commands, it is important that you are consistent with the word you choose. Don’t say “Crawl!” one time and “Move!” the next time, for example.
3. Gradually remove the treat. When your dog has come to associate crawling with getting a treat, she’ll try to impress you and crawl at every opportunity just so you can give her the reward! Don’t fall for it. You need to move her beyond thinking about food whenever she crawls, to the extent that she can crawl just as easily without expecting anything in return.
Offer your dog an open palm whilst holding the treat in the other hand. Give the command to “crawl!” If she crawls on her belly, give her a treat with the other hand. But if she doesn’t, it means the behavior hasn’t become automatic just yet and she’s still following the treat in your close hand. If this is the case, you’ll need to take a step backwards and repeat the previous stage.
As your dog continues to respond to the command without the treat on offer, start to occasionally reward her with just praise when she crawls. Eventually, as the behaviour becomes ingrained, she should be crawling on command without the guarantee of a treat. It is of course ok to still reward her with a treat every now and then, but as long as you reward her with lots of praise she will be happy to crawl whenever you command her to.
So your pretty dog is crawling even without a treat in sight? Great! Keep training her but all the while keep the treats few and far between. Over time this behavior will become automatic and your dog will be just as eager to crawl as you want her to. Don’t be too hard on her though, she’s your pet and so an occasional treat here and there won’t spoil her.
As you teach your dog to crawl bear in mind the following tips:
– Rewards should be immediate and consistent. Unlike humans, dogs are not able to make connections between events that are separated in time. Reward your dog as soon as she completes the desired behaviour so that she can tell why she’s being rewarded. Always respond the same way to the behavior- don’t punish your dog one day for something you have been praising them for previously, all this will do is confuse her.
– Keep the crawling training sessions simple and short as dogs have a short attention span. Always stop the training at the first sign of tiredness or frustration. The trick is to keep your crawling lessons brief but repeat them throughout the day.
– Train systematically and introduce new skills gradually. Practice makes perfect. So if your dog doesn’t get it initially, don’t quit. Instead, go back a few steps and keep repeating the same process until it finally becomes ingrained in your dog’s mind.
– Finally, be patient with your dog. It takes time and effort to learn to crawl, even for humans! Make it fun by not putting your dog under pressure to learn to crawl too fast. Your patience and persistence will eventually bring you satisfaction and put a smile on your face when your dog starts to impress your family and friends with her incredible crawling skills!