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World war 3 has finally broken out. The invasion has begun and you and your family need to make a break for it through the war torn fields and around the craters. You all hit the dirt as you army crawl under the enemy barbed wire. It’s at this point you realize you should have trained your dog to army crawl so he could avoid the barbed wire too! Okay, maybe that is a slightly unlikely scenario, but if you’re looking for an entertaining party trick that’s guaranteed to have guests in stitches, then train your canine friend to army crawl!
Despite it being a great way to blow off steam and channel their energy productively, teaching him obedience commands like these will also make is easier to train him to do other fun tricks. He probably loves to learn and he’ll be more than willing to play jester for family and friends in return for food and attention.
People are often surprised at how straightforward it is to train a dog to army crawl. It mainly entails obedience training and a consistent incentive and reward program. The challenging part comes from the initial hurdle of conveying precisely what it is you want him to do. Having said that, puppies in particular are fast learners and can respond to this training in just a few days. Even older dogs who aren’t quite as receptive and acrobatic as they were in their youth can be crawling through yards in just a couple of weeks.
Getting this training right will give you more than a chief entertainer at dinner parties, it will ensure he responds swiftly to any other commands you want to train into him. If he is full of energy then this is also an effective way to help him blow off steam, affording you some peace and quiet while he dozes.
Before you both hit the ground and start crawling through mud, you will need several things. A decent stockpile of food or treats will be essential as you will use them to motivate and reward him. You will also need a quiet space, preferably outside where there is no danger of anything getting broken and there is enough space to move around. It will also help if this location is free from distractions during training.
The only other things you need are 15 minutes a day to commit to training and a positive attitude. Once you’ve got that, you’re ready to get crawling!
The Down and Crawl Method
Take him out into the yard with a handful of treats. Before you have him crawl you will need to train him to lie down. This is a quick and easy command to teach and you can practice it alongside your crawling training.
Hold a treat in front of his nose and say ‘down’. Use a calm but firm voice, but keep it playful, this needs to all be a big game to him. As you give the command, lead his face to the ground with the treat. You may need to help him the first few times by gently pulling his front legs from underneath him.
As soon as he is lying down, give him the treat and praise him. It is important to really shower him with praise, that way he will learn quickly. Practice doing this for a few minutes each day until he is a pro at leaping to the ground. When he gets good you can reduce the frequency of treats until the command alone is enough.
Now have him lie down and issue the ‘crawl’ command. Be on your knees, with a treat in front of his nose and slowly move back so he has to crawl to get to you. To start with, only make him move a tiny bit, just a couple of inches before you give him the treat. The key to this is really leading him with the treat, so keep it only just out of his reach.
As he improves, slowly increase the distance you make him crawl before you give him the treat. It may take several days, but gradually build up the distance until he can do several feet. Once he can crawl some distance you can reduce the frequency of treats until the command alone is enough.
The Hand Signal Method
Find a spot
Take him to a quiet space, free from distractions and with a sizeable supply of treats in tow. You are going to train him to crawl but without a verbal cue, just by using a hand signal.
First, have him lie down and then place a handful of treats on the ground several feet away from him. Position yourself alongside him, but closer to the treats than him so he can’t leap to them and fill his belly.
Lead with a treat
With a treat in your hand guide him along the ground towards the treats. Once he travels just a few inches, give him a couple of the treats from the pile. Be sure to praise him and really reinforce that was the right behaviour. If he stands up, take the treat away, have him lie down and start again. This training requires patience so don’t be disheartened if it takes a few attempts before he catches on.
Gradually increase the distance you can have him crawl until he can reach the pile of treats. Once he gets to the pile, let him have a couple and shower him with praise. Note it may take several days before he can travel this distance.
Remove the leading treat
When he has the hang of it, no longer use a treat in your hand to lead him, simply slowly point towards the treats several feet away from him. By this point he will understand he needs to crawl to the treats to get them and he will do so. Keep practicing this, but each time slowly transition from leading him with an empty hand to simply pointing to where you want him to crawl to. You will then be able to simply point to him where you would like him to crawl to.
The Start Small Method
Find a spot
If you have a spacious living room head there, if not take him to the yard. Also put him on a collar, this can often help dogs focus. You will also need a pocket full of treats with you.
You can use a treat to lure him down, but don’t give him the treat yet, just hold his attention with it.
Lead with a treat
Holding the treat in front of his nose, slowly pull it away from him so he crawls forward to try and get it. The first few times you may want to hold his body down gently so he understands he needs to stay completely on the ground.
Reward and encourage
Reward him as soon as he inches forward. Shower him in verbal praise and give him a cuddle. It’s important you reward him for even the tiniest distance to begin with. The hardest part is getting him to understand that he needs to move forward on the ground, so even the tiniest bit of progress is the biggest hurdle overcome.
Over several days, gradually increase the distance you make him crawl before you give him the treat. As he learns to crawl for the treat, start giving the ‘crawl’ command when he starts moving. As he gets the hang of the training and can travel considerable distance in an army crawl, reduce the frequency of treats and rely on the command alone. He will now understand the verbal cue and that will be enough.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021