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Have you ever watched a funny video of a poor dog holding perfectly still while it's owner stacked one thing after another, after another onto her head? Were you impressed with the level of self-control and balance that the dog showed? What if such a trick was possible for your dog too?
Having a dog that knows how to balance things on her head can be a lot of fun. It is not only impressive, but it can also be a great way to cheer people up. After all, what's cuter than a dog waiting so patiently while you stack items on her head.
Training your dog to balance things on her head can be a lot of fun. This trick is a very comical and impressive party trick.
This trick will require balance and a lot of self-control from your dog. Even if your dog loves food, your dog can likely still learn to do this trick using any of the three methods. Because the treat that your dog has to wait for in the 'Waiting' method is also the treat used to reward her at the end of this trick, those temptations can help to motivate her to wait.
If your dog prefers toys rather than treats, you can reward your dog by giving her the balancing toy to play with for a moment, after every successful balance. Stay patient while teaching her. At first, she likely will not understand that remaining still is the way to get that treat or ball that she wants.
If your dog already knows how to balance a treat on her nose, this trick will go much faster because your dog will already understand how to remain still while balancing items.
To get started, you will need to gather a few things. You will need lots of tasty, soft treats. If you are doing the 'Tennis Ball' method you will need a tennis ball or similar type of ball. If you are doing the 'Licking' method, you will need something for your dog to lick off of a treat, such as peanut butter or spray cheese, and you will need something relatively flat and slightly smaller than the space between your dog's ears, for your dog to balance on her head.
It is important to be patient with your dog while teaching this trick. Many dogs are confused by having food so close to their mouths without being able to eat it right away. Because this trick depends on your dog's own balance, some dogs will naturally learn this more quickly. If your dog is struggling with this part give him time and lots of opportunities to practice.
The Waiting Method
Place treat in your hand
Start by teaching your dog to leave a treat alone. To do this, place a treat in your closed hand and command your dog to "balance" while letting her sniff it. Do not let her eat it though. When your dog stops attempting to get to the treat, open your hand while also telling your dog "OK", and allow her to eat the treat.
Move treat to the floor
When your dog no longer tries to get the treat out of your hand when you show her your closed hand, place the treat on the floor and cover it with your hand. Tell her "balance" while you do this. If your dog attempts to get the treat at the new location, repeat the same process that you did when the treat was in your hand. Practice this until your dog will also leave this treat alone until she is told "OK".
After your dog has mastered leaving the treat alone while it is on the floor, continue to increase the difficulty of this trick. Gradually move your hand further and further away from the treat, but be ready to cover the treat again if she goes for it. Cover the treat with your foot instead of your hand. Make your dog wait for longer and longer amounts of time before giving her the treat. Practice these things until she has masted leaving the treat alone when told "balance".
Touch treat to nose
When your dog has mastered this trick while the treat is on the floor, move the treat onto your dog's nose. To do this, place one hand underneath your dog's lower jaw. Gently cup her lower jaw in one hand and touch the tip of her nose with the treat that is in your other hand. Command her to "balance" while doing this. Reward her after each touch.
Move onto nose
When your dog will allow you to touch the treat to the front of her nose without trying to eat it, move the treat onto the bridge of her nose. Practice holding the treat onto the bridge of her nose for longer and longer periods of time, until she will remain still for several seconds. Continue to reward her for each hold.
Let go of the treat
When your dog will remain still for several seconds while you hold the treat onto her nose, with one hand cupped under her chin, place the treat onto her nose and briefly let go of the treat. After a couple of seconds, tell her "OK" and release her chin so that she can drop or catch the treat.
Phase out chin support
Once your dog is able to hold the treat steadily on her nose for twenty or more seconds, begin to let go of her lower jaw for a couple of seconds at a time, so that she is balancing the treat without your help. Increase the amount of time that you let go by two seconds for every ten successful repetitions.
When your dog is able to hold the treat on her nose without depending on your cupped hand for support, begin to add additional treats to the bridge of her nose. Add one treat at a time, gradually creating a line of treats leading up to your dog's forehead and onto her head.
Replace or add more treats
Once you are able to create a line of treats down the bridge of your dogs nose and onto the top of her head, practice stacking additional items onto her nose and head. Once she has mastered balancing multiple items, you can show all of your friends your dog's wonderful new trick.
The Licking Method
Prepare your items
To begin, find a treat that your dog loves, something tasty to spread onto it, such as peanut butter, and an object that is relatively flat and slightly smaller than the area between your dog's ears.
Spread a small amount of the peanut butter onto the treat. With one hand, hold the treat in front of your dog's mouth for your dog to lick. With the other hand, touch the object to the top of your dog's head.
As soon as the object touches the top of your dog's head, praise your dog and give the entire treat to your dog, for her to eat.
When your dog is comfortable with having her head touched by the object, begin to tell your dog "balance" while you touch the object to your dog's head. Praise your dog as you do so, then tell her "OK", remove the object, and give her the treat to eat.
Begin to hold the object onto your dog's head for longer and longer periods of time while your dog licks the treat. Increase the amount of time slowly, by five seconds after every ten successful repetitions.
Phase out the licking
Once your dog is balancing the object on her head for one to two minutes without dropping it, begin to phase out the treat licking. To phase out the licking, hold the treat inside your hand for her to sniff, while you place the object onto her head. Have her balance the object for a couple of seconds before telling her "OK" and offering her the treat within your hand.
Gradually increase the amount of time that she has to hold the object on her head before you allow to eat the treat.
Remove your hand
Once your dog can balance the object for one to two minutes without licking a treat, gradually move the hand that is holding the treat away from her. Move it away one inch at a time. Do this until your hand is behind your back.
When your dog is able to balance the object on her head without your assistance, practice having her balance different objects. Introduce one item at a time until she has masted the balancing act. Enjoy your dog's fun new trick!
The Tennis Ball Method
Show the ball
To begin, show your dog the tennis ball. If your dog sniffs the ball but does not bite it, praise her and offer her a treat. If she tries to bite the ball, pull the ball back and repeat the process until you can offer the ball and she will not bite it. Reward her with a treat when she stops biting it.
Touch with the ball
Once your dog is no longer trying to put the ball into her mouth, touch her nose with the ball while praising her. Offer her a treat for allowing you to touch her with the ball.
Once she is comfortable with being touched by the ball, begin to tell her "balance" as you touch the ball to her nose. Praise her while she remains still.
Reward and release
After you have commanded her to "balance", quickly tell her "OK", then remove the ball and offer her a treat.
When your dog is tolerating being touched with the ball well, place one hand underneath her chin to gently support her lower jaw and to keep her from moving her head. With your free hand, place the ball onto the bridge of her nose. Hold it there for three seconds, then tell her "OK" and remove the ball and give her a treat.
Balance the ball
If the ball is rolling off of your dog's nose, then balance the ball in the space that is right between her eyes and tilt her head slightly upward, so that the ball rests in the space between your dog's eyes and forehead. You can also try using a different size ball.
When your dog is tolerating the ball resting on the bridge of her nose well, increase the amount of time that you hold the ball there and that your dog has to remain still. Praise her while she is holding still, but continue to cup her chin until you have told her "OK" to indicate that she can move it. Gradually increase the amount of balancing time by a couple of seconds after every few successful repetitions.
Phase out your hand
Once your dog can remain still with the ball on her nose for one to two minutes at a time, begin to phase out the hand that is cupping her chin. To do this, slowly lower your hand away from her chin while she is balancing the ball. Return your hand to her chin briefly if she begins to move her head. Practice this until she no longer needs you to return your hand to her chin.
Practice with other objects
Once your dog can balance the ball on her head without needing your hand under her chin for support, you can begin to practice balancing other objects on her head. Practice each item one at a time, until your dog is a master at balancing many types of objects.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 01/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021