How to Train Your Dog to Close a Curtain

Medium
2-6 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

Teaching your dog to close a curtain is a fun and useful trick that can come in handy in a variety of circumstances. Perhaps this is only one in a variety of useful household activities that you would like your dog to be able to perform. Asking your dog to go around the house closing curtains allows you one less chore, and your dog will love the excuse to jump on the back of the couch to reach the window there. Perhaps you have a little show planned, involving your dog or not, and know the audience would love it if your dog pulled the curtain closed after each scene.

Whatever your reason for teaching your dog to close a curtain, it is a fun and relatively easy trick to teach. It is a good beginner mouth trick, especially for dogs who have difficulty with carrying things. A curtain offers its own resistance, so dogs get to pull against it. Most dogs love games of tug, so it isn’t hard to motivate a dog to pull on a curtain.

Defining Tasks

There are two distinct elements to this trick, both of which your dog will need to fully grasp in order to competently perform the behavior. The first is grasping the curtain firmly and not letting go. Many dogs want to play with the curtain, pulling and releasing as they would with a playmate. Your dog must learn to pull with relatively firm and consistent pressure. The second element to this trick is for your dog to pull the curtain all the way closed. Many dogs succeed in pulling the curtain partly closed, but don’t understand that the goal is to close the curtain all the way.

Getting Started

The most important elements to this trick are a good deal of patience on your part, and a curtain you do not mind having destroyed, firmly attached to a rod that will withstand a good deal of tugging. The curtain rod must have good stoppers at either end so that your dog won’t accidentally pull the curtain off. Such a surprise and fright at this stage may instill a lasting fear of curtains in your dog. The curtain should also slide smoothly and easily on the rod, so as to make success as easy as possible for your dog. Make sure access to the curtain is clear, and the curtain is easily reachable by your dog. Pull from the height and angle of your dog, to insure that the curtain will easily pull for her. It isn’t a bad idea to have a prop curtain on a sturdy frame to train with.

The Play Tug Method

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Step
1
Teach tug
Take your dog’s favorite tug toy and play tug of war with her. When she pulls, attach a command word. Play until your dog is reliably pulling on command on the tug toy.
Step
2
Tug the curtain
Tie the tug to the curtain, ensuring that the curtain will pull properly if pulled by the tug toy. Play with your dog like normal, using the command to pull. At this stage, do not allow the curtain to move, but hold the tug toy and offer resistance yourself.
Step
3
Close the curtain
While your dog is pulling, allow the pull to move to the curtain so that your dog is pulling the curtain. If your dog is startled and lets go, pick up the toy and start over. Keep practicing until your dog is comfortable with the curtain closing.
Step
4
Remove the toy
Remove the tug toy and practice with the dog grasping the curtain directly.
Step
5
Name and practice closing
When your dog fully closes the curtain, give the command for “close the curtain” and reward your dog. Keep practicing until your dog understands that she should pull the curtain all the way closed when asked in order to get a reward.
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The Little at a Time Method

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Step
1
Encourage a tug
Play with your dog with the end of the curtain until she grasps it in her mouth and pulls a little. When she does, reward and encourage her. Keep playing until she is playing tug with you with the curtain.
Step
2
Tug the curtain
Let your dog’s tugging pull more directly on the curtain until she is pulling it. Encourage her and pick it up and encourage tugging if she is startled because of the curtain’s movement.
Step
3
Keep tugging
Encourage your dog to keep pulling until the curtain is closed. When she succeeds, be excited and reward her. Also, say the command words for 'close the curtain' very excitedly, so she associates the words with the curtain closing.
Step
4
Practice closing
Keep practicing closing the curtain with your dog. Remember to encourage her to close it all the way before rewarding.
Step
5
Close it on her own
Practice having your dog close the curtain on her own, without much or any encouragement from you. Only reward her when she is done.
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The Fetch Method

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Step
1
Play fetch
Throw a soft or tug toy for your dog until she gets comfortable with running after and retrieving it.
Step
2
Tie the toy to the curtain
Tie the toy to the end of the curtain using a longish line. Stand away from the curtain and throw the toy towards the curtain.
Step
3
Encourage a retrieval
Encourage your dog to retrieve the toy. When she brings it towards you, the line will pull the curtain. If your dog is startled, encourage her to pick the toy back up and bring it to you.
Step
4
Close the curtain
Transfer focus from the toy to the curtain by backing up while telling your dog to 'close the curtain', or whatever command word you want. As soon as the curtain is closed, allow your dog to reach you and reward her. Keep practicing this until your dog is as focused on pulling the curtain as she is on bringing the toy.
Step
5
Remove the toy
Remove the toy and encourage your dog to pull on the curtain itself to close it. Tie the toy directly to the curtain for awhile first if your dog balks at this step.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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