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Teaching your dog new tricks is fun and rewarding. However, teaching your dog to accept praise from other people who are entertained by his tricks is even more fun. It is one thing to have your dog do cute things like shake the hands of your guests, dance for them, spin in circles, and say things such as ‘no’ or ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ but it is completely another thing to take a bow when he is done with his performance. Dogs who do cool tricks are certainly adorable pups. Dogs who take a bow and ask for praise for cool tricks make even more adorable tricksters.
To take a bow, your dog will lie down with his chest and his forearms, up to his elbows, touching the ground. Taking a bow is a polite curtsy for your dog and allows his audience to appreciate his tricks one last time. Taking a bow is a perfect finishing touch once your dog is done showing off. Be prepared to train this trick over a few short sessions. For a dog who knows fun tricks, it should not take more than a few times for your pup to get this down. He might want to turn the bow stretch into a down position, so you may need to work on keeping his tail upright by placing your hand on his tummy while teaching him the command. Be patient if he does not get it right away. As with all training, have lots of delicious treats on hand to reward him.
You will need lots of patience for this one because your dog may think you are trying to get him to lie down instead of just stretch his front legs out and take a bow. Be prepared with lots of treats as well to reward him for positive behavior. Show up to training sessions with some fun tricks that he already knows so he can start to comprehend you would like him to take a bow after he does something incredibly cool. If you are using a clicker to train your dog, have your clicker and treats handy as well.
The Focus on Front End Method
Lure with treats
With a treat in your hand, show your dog before pushing your hands downward toward your dog’s chest and along the floor. Bring the treat inward towards your dog's chest and front paws encouraging him to follow down onto his elbows and chest.
In one swift motion, bring your dog back up as soon as his elbows touch the floor. This will keep him from going into a down position.
Praise and reward
As soon as your dog back into a standing position, give him the treat and verbal praise.
Introduce bow command
After a few times practicing bringing your dog’s elbows and chest down into a bow position, introduce the command ‘bow’ to your dog. Continue practicing. Be sure to reward him once he is back in the standing position.
Practice with tricks
Have your dog to a simple trick such as ‘sit.’ And then, using his new command word ‘bow,’ ask him to bow while practicing the steps above.
In mini practice sessions, repeat the bow command several times, keeping the reward to the ground slightly longer than the time before. Be sure not to allow your dog's bottom to touch the ground or let him get into it down position.
Without the lure
Practice the command, ‘bow,’ without bringing the treats to the ground. Once your dog can do it on command, offer him to treat once he is back in the standing position.
The Watch Me Method
Get your dog's attention with a ‘watch me’ command. Show your dog a treat, bringing it to the tip of your nose and use the command ‘watch me.’
Then bring the treats to your dog's nose and give the command ‘bow.’
Move the treat
Move the treat down towards her front feet. Lure her down until her chest and elbows touch the ground.
As soon as her chest touches the ground, repeat the command ‘bow’ and give her the treat. Encourage her to stand up quickly, so she does not enter a down position. You can use treats to entice her or verbal praise, which will typically cause dogs to bounce right back up.
Continue to practice these steps luring your dog to the ground giving the command ‘bow’ and offering a treat.
Only verbal command
Continue to practice this until your dog can bow on command without being lured down with a treat. Once your dog has the bow command understood, mix it up with other tricks so she can get some praise as she bows for her crowd after doing some neat tricks.
The Clicker Training Method
Start with your pup in a standing position. “Stand” can be a command if your dog does not stay in a standing position. You may want to work on the stand command with him before you work on taking a bow. However, that's not necessary. Just make sure he always starts in a standing position before taking a bow.
Put a treat up against the tip of your dog's nose and gradually move it down his chest. Encourage him to follow the treat until his elbows touch the ground.
Keep your dog in a bow position for only a few seconds. And then take the same treat to lure him back up into a standing position.
Click and treat
As soon as your dog finishes the bow from start to finish and stands back up, quickly click and treat and offer him verbal praise.
Repeat these steps several times, offering your dog a click and treat reward and verbal praise every time he gets it right.
Once your dog has the bow command down, be sure to repeat it several times a day and add several training sessions each week. Pair taking a bow with other tricks so he understands that he can take a bow when he's done entertaining with other tricks he knows.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021