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Have you ever had friends, family or dinner guests over and ended the night with a demonstration of Fido’s awesome sit, down, sta,y and shake skills? Have you ever watched those trick dog commercials or TV shows with the pup that knows how to grab a drink from the fridge and wished that your pooch could perform even half as well?
Tricks are great ways to get in some quality time with your canine companion. In addition to having fun, teaching tricks also requires basic obedience training and helps further your dog’s ability to learn overall, making them both an entertaining and useful companion. One of our favorite tricks involves the look of “shame” a dog will give. A handy behavior to roll out when your spouse asks who ate the last of the mozzarella, training your dog to act ashamed is easier than you think. In fact, we have several different methods to choose from to get your dog up and running.
Teaching your dog any advanced trick will require a solid foundation in basic behaviors in order to set them up for success. Your dog should start with critical manners and behavioral training such as sit, down, and stay, before graduating on to learning fun chores. Just because a behavior is cute or entertaining, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to your dog’s long-term health and well-being. Each task your dog learns teaches them how to build on previous tasks and makes it easier for them to pick up skills later down the line. It’s also important to remember that it’s easier to start dogs out young when it comes to basic behaviors, but that dogs of any age can certainly learn new tricks.
Before you begin teaching your dog how to act ashamed, you are going to need a few basic training items. A flat buckle collar is an essential training tool, no matter the task, as well as a long leash if your dog has a short attention span or if you’ll be practicing in an outdoors area. A treat bag that attaches to your waistband or pocket makes it easy to grab that cookie or treat as a reward for acing a behavior. Treats are an essential part of any positive training regimen. You should gather a selection of treats in varying levels of value. Dry dog cookies, hot dog slices, chunked cheese and cooked steak pieces are a good example of variety that will keep your dog guessing and provide alternating rewards for reinforcing positive behavior.
The Nose Touch Method
FInd a quiet spot
First things first, you’ll need to find a quiet spot where you can teach your pooch to act ashamed without distractions. Settle your pup into a nice ‘down’ position and give them a couple of treats to warm them up.
Lure the nose down
Take a treat into your hand and hold it in front of your dog’s nose. While your dog is still in a ‘down’, lower the treat to the floor until your dog’s face and nose is touching the floor. Once their head is lowered all the way, immediately praise and release the treat.
Add in a cue
Continue luring your dog until they are readily following your hand to the floor. At this point, you’re ready to add a cue. Think creatively here, as it will be your trigger to get the dog to perform their trick. “Bad dog,” “who’s a bad dog?” or “shame” are all great choices and can be worked into your routine later. Once you’ve selected a cue, add it in every time you lower the treat to the floor.
Remove the lure
When your dog is performing this task and after you’ve worked the cue in 30-40 times, it’s time to remove the lure. Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t lower their head the first time, or if they look confused. Simply take a step back and repeat a few more times with the lure before moving on.
Repeat in varying settings
Once your dog is reliably performing on the cue, practice in multiple areas of the house to be sure your dog associates the behavior with the reward rather than the specific room or setting. Your dog will be doing their best, “who, me?” impression before you know it.
The Nose to Paws Method
Add an annoyance
The first step for teaching this method for your dog to look ashamed is to set up a minor annoyance that makes your dog paw at their nose. Put your dog into a ‘down’ to set up the trick. Try putting a Post-it note on your dog’s nose to make them paw at their nose. You may need to experiment with a few different items to find the one that works for your particular pooch.
Treat and praise
Observe your dog carefully and when they perform the desired behavior, putting their nose down and pawing at it, treat and praise. Continue to do this numerous times, each time singling out the correct behavior. Eventually your dog will start to figure out that they receive a treat when they cover their nose with their paws.
Add a cue word
Once your dog has started to figure it out, it’s time to add in the cue word. Remember that this behavior will be part of your dog’s act, so pick something that works easily in, such as “ashamed”, “bad dog”, etc.
Remove the trigger
Once you’ve repeated the cue word, treat and praise at least 40-50 times, it’s time to remove the physical trigger. Ask your dog to act ashamed without the post it note. Don’t worry if Fido acts confused or if it takes a few minutes for him or her to perform the behavior. If your dog still won’t touch their paws to their nose after multiple attempts, go back a few steps and repeat your fundamentals a few more times.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Once you’ve successfully managed to get your dog to tuck their nose under their paws on command, repeat the behavior in multiple settings. Ask your dog to perform in different rooms of the house, outside, and from a stand or sit. Each time remember to treat and praise effusively for the best results.
The Hide Head Method
Hide the treat
Step one for this method of training your dog to act ashamed involves setting up the perfect scenario. Pick a cushion or similar object in your house where you will hide a treat. The cushion should be light enough to allow your dog to place his or her snout under it. Chair cushions work perfectly for this. Grab a treat and, while your dog is watching, place it under the cushion.
Reward and praise
Allow your dog to retrieve the treat from under the cushion. The moment they do, praise your dog and provide another treat. Try to make the treat that you praise with slightly higher in value than the treat under the cushion.
Add a verbal and physical cue
After your dog has retrieved the treat numerous times, add in an appropriate cue word such as “ashamed” or “bad dog”. You can also add in a hand gesture with the verbal cue such as pointing at the cushion. This will help your dog know where you want them to hide their snout when performing the trick later on.
Remove the treat
After you’ve repeated the hide, cue, praise, and reward routine 50-75 times, remove the treat from under the cushion and request the behavior with only the verbal and physical cues. If you’ve successfully imprinted the behavior, your dog will push its snout under the cushion. Praise and treat your dog if they perform successfully. If your dog doesn’t push its nose under, go back a few steps and keep training.
Repeat in multiple settings
After your dog is pushing its nose under the cushion on command, start practicing in multiple settings with different cushion arrangements. Try asking them to put their nose under their dog bed or other objects. Use your physical cues to teach the dog where you want them to “hide”. Remember that multiple settings strengthens the behavior and helps your dog learn that it’s the action that gets the treat, rather than where it takes place.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/27/2017, edited: 01/08/2021