K9 Corner: Helen Palmer

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Last week I wrote about the fact that researchers have discovered that dogs and cats kept as pets can actually get sick from boredom. I quoted Dr. Karen Becker’s list of symptoms dogs exhibit when they become exceedingly bored.

Re-reading my column, I realized that many dog owners are confined to household chores when they are not at their job, or the weather prevents them from giving their family pet the necessary physical, mental and emotional stimulation needed to keep the animals healthy, thus I borrowed a book titled “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy, so you and your pet can “wow” your friends with all the things you have taught him.

Each trick is graded one paw for simple to teach, up to four paws for the most challenging tricks. Here are two easy ones.

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Shake Hands: I chose this because it re-enforces the sit and stay as your company arrives for a visit. To teach this trick, have your dog sitting while you crouch (or sit on a low stool) in front of him. Hide a treat in your right hand and rest your hand on the floor in front of the dog’s left paw. The dog will probably sniff your hand and lift his left paw to let you know he wants the treat. Reward. Repeat at least five times and then stop before the dog tires of the game. Practice this each day for several days. As the dog improves his responses, lift your hand a bit higher. Be sure to reward as soon as the dog lifts his paw to your hand.

Finally stand and cue your dog verbally and by extending your empty right hand. As soon as the dog lifts his paw, reward him with your left hand. You can hold on to his paw while he nibbles on the treat. If you wish you can now teach him to shake with the other paw.

The second trick is Take a Bow. Of course your guests are complimenting the good manners of your pet, so what is more appropriate than for him to take a bow. To teach this trick, have your dog standing in front of you. My dog is little so I would probably sit on the low stool.

With a treat grasped in your left hand, let the dog sniff the treat as you bend over and lower your hand toward the floor. As soon as the dog’s front legs touch the floor, give him the treat before he lowers his head and hindquarters into a down position. Verbally praise as you reward him; that will keep his head up as he looks at you. Repeat five times and stop after he does the trick correctly. Practice the routine each day for several days. Now he is ready to meet company whenever they arrive.

One way to keep your dog’s attention during practices is to have three flavors of treats and alternate them each day. Save the cooked liver for the ultimate treat.