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Basic Training

Teaching Your Dog The Play Dead Trick

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Playing dead is an excellent dog trick. While it is not as essential as teaching your dog commands such as “sit” and “stay,” it may be an enjoyable game for both the dog and the trainer. 

Make sure your dog is familiar with the basic commands “lie down” and “stay” before you start teaching them how to play dead. Here is an easy step-by-step guide for adding “play dead” to your dog’s list of new tricks:

Step 1: Practice The Down Position

Command your dog to lie down. Bear in mind the side your dog prefers to lie on. A lot of dogs like to roll over and lie down on a specific side. Make a mental note to use this side while teaching your dog to play dead because it will be simpler for them to learn the action if they seem to like it on that side. 

Step 2: Use Treats

Use treats to entice your dog. Get your dog’s attention by holding a treat directly in front of its face. Slowly lure your dog’s head back over her shoulder using the treat. Your dog will begin to naturally turn her body as she follows the treat. When your dog follows the treat to her side, you should stop twisting your hand to prevent your dog from rolling over. Next, lure your dog’s attention to the treat by pointing it toward the ground. Reward your dog with a treat when its head follows the treat all the way to the ground. As soon as your dog is lying on its side, say “yes” or “good.” Or, click your clicker. Then, give the dog a treat. Repeat these steps several times.

Step 3: Add Signals

Add a cue phrase and a hand signal after your dog has completed the roll a few times. Most people use the verbal words in combination with a hand signal command, placing their fingers together to resemble a gun aimed at the dog.  Whatever command you choose, say the phrase, show the dog your hand signal, and then place the reward on the floor alongside the dog. Eventually, you will stop placing the treat on the floor and reward the dog after it “revives” instead.

Repeat the process for up to 15 minutes, always ensuring that your dog is under control and attentive before beginning the command. Give your dog a break after 15 minutes.  

To make the lessons interesting and positive for both you and your dog, end each session on a positive note with your dog successfully practicing the method.

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