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Hone your hound's skills with 'The Best Dog Tricks on the Planet'

Celebrity dog trainer Babette Haggerty and Barbara Call spell out the basic steps for turning your pooch into a performer in "The Best Dog Tricks on the Planet." Here's an excerpt.

I love this trick! Years ago I helped a friend train his Yorkshire terrier to carry the box containing the engagement ring over to his intended bride. You can imagine the oohs and aahs the woman received when she told the story! And here’s part two: The dog followed up with a bouquet of flowers. What a way to wow her!

Start with a small plain box and move to a wrapped gift or small gift bag. You’ll also need a second person whom your dog knows by name.

VERBAL CUE: “Carry the present, Go to _______”

TOOLS: Praise

AVG. TIME: 5-7 Days

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate


1. Give the small box to your dog and say, “Take it” (sidebar, page 45). Then tell him, “Go to Auntie.”
2. Have Auntie call your dog, “Come, come” (page 12). As soon as your dog gets to Auntie have her give him lots of praise.
3. Repeat this several times, then say “Go to Auntie, carry the present.” Over time transition to the “Carry the present” command alone.
4. Practice several times a day for five to seven days.

It may sound obvious, but this isn’t a great trick for bulldogs, who drool a lot, or for any dog who produces lots of saliva.


Problem: Your dog takes the present, but wants to play with it or chew on it.

Solution: Get your dog used to handling the box gently. Correct him if he starts chewing on it or tearing it up.

Any move that uses two dogs is sure to bring out some smiles. Add in the fact that you’re asking Rover to perform a human action and the irony of one dog walking another and you’ve nailed the entertainment factor.

That said, this is not a trick for beginners. Before you can teach this trick both dogs need a solid Heel in place (sidebar, page 12). If they don’t know how to heel then put this training on hold and start there. Once they’ve nailed Heel, you will kick off the training for this trick by teaching them how to walk in a brace.

“Brace” is a category of competition where a single handler shows two dogs at the same time. The two dogs typically enter the ring side by side and are judged on their ability to act as a pair.

VERBAL CUE: “Walk the dog”

TOOLS: Praise

AVG. TIME: 2-3 Weeks


1. Put both leashed dogs in the Heel position (sidebar, page 12), side by side, on your left side.
2. Put the inside dog’s leash in your right hand. Put the outside dog’s leash in your left hand. Tell both dogs, “Let’s walk.”
3. If the dogs want to switch sides, they will quickly switch on their own. If they do, allow it. You want to let them choose the side where they will be content walking next to one another.
4. Practice this several times a day for a few days before advancing.
5. When you’re ready to teach them “Walk the dog,” position the dogs side by side with one attached to a leash. Tell one dog, “Take it” (sidebar, page 45) and place the leash in his mouth. Tell him, “Walk the dog.” It doesn’t matter which dog holds the leash in this trick, the dog on the outside or the dog on the inside. Select the dog that’s more comfortable holding the leash.
6. Walk ahead of the dogs and say, “Come.” This is one of those tricks where the reward is in the work. Go for several paces and then give them lots of praise.
7. Repeat, each time increasing the distance that both dogs walk. Eventually you can advance to the dogs walking alone.

Problem: Rover seems overwhelmed by holding the leash and walking and working next to a second dog.

Solution: Break this trick down into several parts and take your time mastering each section before you string them all together. For example, let him get used to holding the leash in his mouth before you have him move alongside his canine companion.

There are two key steps to success with this trick:
 Both dogs have to know how to heel very well. Second, both dogs have to master the concept of “brace.” Once you’ve got those building blocks in place it’s all fun and games!

If they’re both good at holding objects, try the more advanced version of this trick: Give them both leashes and let them walk each other!

The word “pirouette” is French and means “spinning top.” My doggie-style version of this move won’t have Rover spinning on one toe like a ballerina, but any twirling canine is sure to elicit claps and whistles. This is also a great trick for transitioning between other moves. As soon as Rover finishes Roll Over (page 58), have him stand up and twirl before moving to Shake Your Body (page 59) or Weave Cones (page 90).

Your dog should be able to stand and walk forward on his hind legs (page 78) in order to learn this trick. You’re luring him to move right or left as he walks forward, then speeding up that movement to create a pirouette.


TOOLS: Praise and Treats

AVG. TIME: 5-7 Days

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

1. Hold a treat in your hand. Have Rover come up on his hind legs and steady himself, using the command, “Dance.” (Walk on Hind Legs, page 20)
2. Lure him to move to the left or right with the treat. Take care not to move the treat hard right or hard left, but in an arc to his left or right. Move very slowly and keep the treat steady, not too low and not too high.
3. Each time you practice, move him a little bit more in a circle and say, “Spin!” When he finishes a pirouette, heap on the praise.
4. Practice two to three times a day for five to seven days.

Remember that where the head goes, the body will follow. The key in training this trick is to make sure Rover is steady and balanced enough to turn his feet at the same time he turns his head.

Problem: Rover drops out of the standing position once you start luring him to the right or left.

Solution: Chances are you’re moving too quickly. Start
over with very slow movements. Rover will drop out of the standing position if he’s not comfortable, so use a very slow progression into your circular movement.

Copyright © 2013 Babette Haggerty and Barbara Call from the book THE BEST DOG TRICKS ON THE PLANET, published by Page Street Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission.