How to Train Your Dog to Crawl

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

The common saying is that dog is man’s best friend. We love our dogs so much, in fact, that we often provide human characteristics to their actions. Love, affection, and other emotions are commonly associated with dogs’ behaviors. In reality, dogs and puppies are a great deal different from their human counterparts. Simple actions such as talking and walking are incredibly different across species. People speak and dogs bark. Human babies learn to crawl, then walk, while puppies are straight to the walking and never learn to crawl…that is…unless you teach them.The common saying is that dog is man’s best friend. We love our dogs so much, in fact, that we often provide human characteristics to their actions. Love, affection, and other emotions are commonly associated with dogs’ behaviors. 

In reality, dogs and puppies are a great deal different from their human counterparts. Simple actions such as talking and walking are incredibly different across species. People speak and dogs bark. Human babies learn to crawl, then walk, while puppies are straight to the walking and never learn to crawl…that is…unless you teach them.

Defining Tasks

You know how our human children need to learn to crawl first before they walk? Well, going along with the theme of canine versus human differences, dogs need to learn how to walk, and a few other things, before they learn how to crawl. Training your dog to crawl should be done after they’ve mastered a few other essential commands and is best taught with slightly older puppies.

Crawling is more than just a fun party trick to teach your pooch. Crawling uses a ton of essential core muscles, providing a mini workout for Fido. Additionally, training overall helps improve your dog’s mental and physical health and is also great for strengthening the bond between dog and owner.

The process of training your dog to crawl involves mastering both 'down' and 'stay' first, training in progression to crawling.

Getting Started

Training your dog to crawl won’t take a whole lot of extra equipment or special props. In fact, most of what you’ll need to teach this fun behavior is already available in your house. You should have a sturdy, flat buckle collar for your dog and a medium length leash for training outdoors with distractions.

Treats are a must in any training session. Try to pick items with a variety of “values” on the tastiness scale. This helps keep your dog guessing and also allows you to provide bonus, extra special rewards for stellar performance. Hot dogs, dry dog cookies, chunks of cheese and even steak are all great options. Once you’ve prepped your treats, grab your treat bag and get ready; it’s time to delve into your training methods.

The Teaching 'Down' Method

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Step
1
Lure into a 'sit'
Teaching your dog down will be an essential first step to teaching him to crawl. To start out, hold a treat in your hand. Raise your hand above your dog’s head and back, forcing him to look up. Your dog’s rear should fall naturally into a ‘sit’, especially if you’ve taught him this skill already.
Step
2
Lure into the 'down'
Without releasing the treat but with your dog’s attention still on your hand, bring your hand down towards the floor, moving towards your dog’s feet slightly. Your dog should follow your hand and naturally lay down.
Step
3
Add in the cue
Repeat luring your dog into a down multiple times until he is readily following you into a down. Once your dog is reliably performing the behavior, start adding in the cue word “down.” Tell your dog ‘down’, then lure him into the ‘down’. Repeat this step multiple times.
Step
4
Remove the lure
After you have repeated the cue word and lure step multiple times, it’s time to remove the treat. Tell your dog ‘down’, without using the treat or hand to lure him into the behavior. Your dog may pause or hesitate, so be sure to give plenty of time to perform. If your dog doesn’t move into the position with just the cue word, go back to the previous step.
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5
Add a hand gesture
Once your dog is moving into ‘down’ on command, add in a hand gesture as an alternate cue. Facing your dog so that he can see your hand, point your right hand down towards the ground and say “down”. Repeat this step multiple times.
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6
Gesture on its own
Remove the verbal ‘down’ cue and use just the hand command. Your dog should move into a down readily. If he doesn’t, go back to the previous steps and repeat a few more times. Be sure to practice in a variety of settings to cement the behavior.
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7
Move on to 'stay'
Once your dog has a solid ‘sit’, you’re ready to move to the next phase of crawling: ‘stay’.
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The Teaching 'Stay' Method

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Step away
Place your dog in a ‘down’ on a bed, rug or other comfy place. You can remove this “place” later but it can help many dogs learning how to stay initially. Say the word “stay” and then take one step back. Quickly step back towards your dog before he has a chance to get up. If your dog hasn’t moved, treat and praise.
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2
Add time
Repeat step one with a very short distance but slowly add in time before you return to your dog. You should add time slowly and in seconds increments at first. At this time you should also add in a release word such as “okay” or “all done” immediately before treating and praising to let your dog know they are out of their ‘stay’.
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3
Add distance
Repeat step two numerous times, slowly adding in distance. After you’ve worked your way up to 10-15 seconds of stay, take another step back. Working very slowly, add in another step in combination with additional time. Remember, you are laying blocks and a solid foundation is important to teaching a great response.
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4
Step to the side
After your dog is staying for 30 seconds or so and at 5-10 feet of distance directly in front of him, it’s time to start walking to their side. Even if your dog is good at a distance, start out by only taking one step to either side. Tell him “stay”, step, and then return and release/treat/praise. Repeat this on either side and work on upping distance and time.
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5
Step around
After your dog is staying with you walking to either side, try to walk completely around him while he remains in a stay. Do this quickly the first time, as your dog will be tempted to watch you or move. Slowly increase the amount of time and distance as in steps 2 & 3.
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6
Leave the room
After your dog has mastered you being a great deal of distance away from him, start leaving the room or otherwise leave your dog’s field of vision. Keep this absence brief to start (only a few seconds). Hurry back and release, praise, and treat your pooch.
Step
7
Practice, practice, practice
A rock solid stay is an important behavior. Practice this command in a variety of locations with an increasing amount of distractions. Always remember to give your dog their release command and plenty of treats and praise as a reward for good behavior.
Step
8
Move on to 'crawl'
Once your dog is sitting and staying reliably, he’s ready to get to work!
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The Teaching 'Crawl' Method

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Setting up
To begin, place your pooch in a ‘down’ and ask him to ‘stay’. Be sure to give plenty of treats for quick performance. Even if your dog is performing these commands without treats, this will warm your dog up and let him know you’re about to train.
Step
2
Lure forward
Take a treat in your hand and place it in front of your dog’s nose. It should be low to the ground and just out of reach of their so that your dog is not tempted to stand. Entice your dog to move forward and get the treat. The moment they scoot forward slightly, treat and praise.
Step
3
Add lure distance
Once your dog is moving forward, slowly start asking them to move forward with you, following the treat. This behavior takes a lot of core strength so your dog may only follow for short periods of time. Try going slowly, adding one foot at a time in between treating and praising.
Step
4
Add the command
Once your dog is reliably crawling forward a short distance, start adding in the command word. “Crawl” makes for a good command, but feel free to come up with something memorable or funny for you and your pooch. Say the command and then slowly move away with the treat, luring your dog forward. Treat and praise after a short amount of time.
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5
Start at a distance
After you’ve practiced your dog following your hand and treat numerous times and have added the cue word, you’re ready to have your dog start crawling to you. Put your dog in a ‘down/stay’ and then take several steps back. Give the verbal command. If your dog doesn’t crawl several steps to you, go back a step and repeat a few more times.
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6
Remove the lure
Next, remove the food lure from your hand and give the ‘crawl’ command on its own. If you’ve repeated the previous step many times, your dog should start crawling towards you. If not, slow down and back up a training step or two to reinforce the behavior.
Step
7
Practice, practice, practice
Practice the 'crawl' command at numerous distances and in different settings. Remember that this behavior is physically taxing on your dog and keep training sessions brief and fun for maximum response.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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