Halloween Training Tricks
PetSmart Debbie McKnight, Accredited PetSmart Trainer
Halloween is a great time for the whole family to spend together. If you plan to let Fido participate in the trick or treating, teaching him a few basic commands will make your Halloween fun much easier. These three basics: Sit (so he won’t jump on the kids), stay (so he won’t run out when you open the door), and leave it (so he won’t touch the candy) should be plenty to get you through the night. Here are some basic instructions on teaching those three behaviors:
Sit – grab a good treat and place it right at the dog’s nose to get his attention. Keeping the treat right on the end of the dog’s nose, slowly move it up and back over his head. As he follows the treat, his head should come up and his back end should go down, resulting in a sit. When he sits, tell him, “Good dog!” and give him the treat. When you have practiced enough that you are sure you can get him to sit, you can begin to say the word “sit” right before you put the treat at his nose and start to move it. He’ll catch on quickly and soon he’ll be sitting after you say the word!
Stay – ask your dog to sit and praise him when he does. While your dog is sitting, say, “stay” and place your hand flat with your palm facing the dog (like a “stop” hand signal). Wait 2-3 seconds, then give your dog a treat and tell him, “All done!” When it seems like he understands that he’s supposed to sit still until he gets his treat and you say, “all done”, you can start to have him stay longer. You can increase the time he stays by a couple of seconds every three repetitions. It’s tempting to try and walk away from him while he stays, but it’s best to remain right beside him until you’ve worked up to 30 seconds.
Leave it – you’ll need a large, boring biscuit and some small, yummy treats. Put your dog on leash and place the large, boring biscuit out of reach of the dog. Allow him to attempt to get it, but do not allow him to actually put it in his mouth. When he stops trying to get it and turns away, tell him, “Good dog!” and give him a small, yummy treat. As he gets better at this exercise, you can tell him, “leave it” when he starts to go toward the large, boring biscuit. You can repeat this exercise with lots of different items; just make sure to reward him with something better than you ask him to leave.
If you start now, your dog will be a pro at these by the time Halloween rolls around. Have fun and happy trick or treating!