K-9 Corner: Upping the ante on dog tricks

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As requested, here is a useful, but more challenging, trick to teach your dog; taken from “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy.

It is “open/close a door.” One of my younger 4-H students, back in the 1970s, taught her medium-size dog to do this trick and found it so helpful when her younger siblings would open the bathroom door, say excuse me and leave without closing the door. She also found the commands helpful when she would help her mother carry groceries inside.

Sundance and her dog Chalcy teaches “close the door” by using a slightly ajar inward opening door and treats. Hold the treat at nose height and tell the dog to “close – get it.” When the dog alerts to the treat, raise the treat higher, encouraging the dog to stand on his hind legs and put his front paws on the door. This will close the door. Immediately give the dog the treat and verbally praise him. Sundance says the once your dog understands the meaning of “close,” try getting him to perform the trick while the trainer merely taps the door to get him to close it. Remember to always praise and reward for correct responses. After practicing these basic moves, stand several feet from the door and send the dog to close the door. Keep practicing each day until you can send the dog from across the room to go close the door.

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To teach your dog to open a door you need an outward opening door with a lever type door handle. Sundance recommends using a door that opens to the dog’s play-yard or using food treats or a favorite toy. The door should be cracked open so the dog can see the incentive. Steady the door while encouraging your dog to push or paw at it. If he jumps up on the door to push it open, praise and let him have his reward (the incentive).

Once he understands the command “open,” close the door completely and tap the door handle to encourage him to stand on his hind legs and paw at the handle. The trainer should assist by depressing the handle so the door swings open. Sundance states: “Now that your dog understands the handle is the secret to opening doors, he will perfect his technique on his own,” – with incentives.

To teach him to open an inward opening door, start by taping the latch so the door opens without depressing the door handle. The dog needs to learn to lean on the handle and walk backward, according to Sundance. Standing on the opposite side of the door, call him while tapping the door. Reward. “Remove the tape from the latch and again stand on the opposite side of the door.

Keep your foot pressed against it so that if your dog depresses the handle at all, the door will open toward him. The dog will learn to walk backward while depressing the door handle.”