How to Train Your Dog to Limp

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Have you ever watched a movie with a dog in it that has injured its leg? You know how it tugs on your heart strings to watch the poor dog limp across the screen. Perhaps the dog in the movie is a hero and it was injured saving somebody's life.

Have you ever thought about the real dogs that act in those movies? The dogs that are able to draw such emotion from their viewers by performing their limping tricks. If your dog has decent balance, the chances are that your dog too can put on such a performance with this trick

Defining Tasks

Having a dog that can limp can be a lot of fun. It can be a great source of entertainment. It is useful if you aspire for your dog to be a movie start. It is a great way to build your dog's balance. It can even be helpful if you need for your dog to keep her weight off of an injured foot.

This command is mostly for puppies and younger dogs. Although an older dog can learn new tricks, this trick can be painful for a dog with arthritis or sore muscles. If you believe that this trick will cause your dog pain or be too difficult physically, it is best to choose another trick instead.

Expect this trick to take between three and six weeks to learn. Although most dogs can understand the command sooner, give your dog enough time to build the muscles needed for balancing and walking on three legs.

If your dog knows the 'stand' command it will make teaching this command easier.

Getting Started

To get started, you will need lots of small, soft, tasty treats. If you are having a hard time keeping your dog still while teaching her to lift her leg, you may also want a leash and an assistant.

If you are using the 'Sock Wearing' method, you will also need a sock that will fit tightly enough on your dog's leg for it to stay on while you are practicing. Depending on the size of your dog, you may need to use a child or baby's sock, or modify one of your own socks.

If you are using the 'Ice' method, you will need a cookie sheet at least four times the width of your dog's paw. You will also need enough ice cubes to fill your cookie sheet with one to two inches of ice, or you will need a water source and a freezer large enough to fit your cookie sheet inside, in order to create a sheet of ice.

The Hand Balancing Method

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Step
1
Desensitize to touch
To begin, gently touch your dog's front foot and give a treat. Once she is happily accepting your touch, gently lift her foot off of the ground and give a treat.
Step
2
Add command
After several successful practices of lifting your dog's foot, begin to tell your dog "limp" right before you raise her foot, and "OK" when you lower it back to the ground. Continue to praise her and offer her a treat after every lift.
Step
3
Reward anticipation
Once your dog is readily lifting her leg off of the floor when you touch it and say "'imp", command 'limp' and gently touch her foot but do not lift it for her. If she lifts it even slightly on her own, give her a treat.
Step
4
Space out the command and touch
Once your dog is lifting her foot every time you command 'limp' and gently touch it, practice giving the command and waiting several second before touching her paw. Do this to see if she will lift it on her own, without your touch. When she does lift it, reward her. If she does not, give her a hint by touching it. Practice this sequence until she will lift it without you having to touch it anymore.
Step
5
Add duration
When your dog is lifting her paw consistently when told to 'limp', increase the amount of time that she has to hold it up before she receives a treat. To do this, command "limp", and while she is raising her paw into the air place your hand under her raised paw, but do not touch it. If she begins to lower her paw before being told "OK", gently tap or cup her leg for a couple of seconds. While you are doing this, praise her and offer her a treat. After a couple of seconds, tell her "OK" and allow her to lower her paw.
Step
6
Repeat
Gradually increase the amount of time that she must hold her paw in the air, until she has reached a couple of minutes and no longer needs you to cup her leg any longer.
Step
7
Add movement
Once your dog is well balanced and able to hold her leg in the air for a couple of minutes, begin to add movement. To do this, command her to 'limp' and while her leg is in the air, place a treat in front of her nose and slowly move it away from her in a straight line. If she begins to lower her leg to the floor while stepping forward, then cup her leg in your hand again. If she moves towards the treat on three legs then praise her enthusiastically and offer her that treat plus two more treats.
Step
8
Add distance
Once she can take a step forward on three legs without your hand cupping her leg, practice adding additional steps. Add one step at a time, until she can take several steps in a row on three legs.
Step
9
Remove the treat
When your dog can walk forward on three legs without needing your hand there for assistance, phase out the treat that you have been luring her with. To phase out the treat, make the same motion with an empty hand that you have been making with your treat-filled hand. When she has completed the trick, offer her a treat out of your non-luring hand.
Step
10
Command only
Once your dog will do the trick without the treat in your luring hand, phase out the use of your hand entirely. To do this, space out the command and the motion of your hand. Command your dog to 'limp' and wait several seconds. If your dog does the command without the hand signal, praise and reward her with several treats. If she does not, give her a hint by moving your empty hand in front of her nose like before. Only give her one treat if she needs a hint. Practice this until she can limp without the use of your hand motion.
Recommend training method?

The Sock Wearing Method

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Step
1
Show your dog the sock
Familiarize your dog with the sock that you will be using by showing the sock to your dog. Allow your dog to sniff the sock but not to bite it. If your dog sniffs the sock or ignores the sock, offer your dog a treat.
Step
2
Put on the sock
Once your dog is comfortable with the sock. Gently lift your dog's paw and place the sock on your dog.
Step
3
Let go of your dog's leg
With the sock in place, let go of your dog's leg. If you dog continues to hold her leg in the air praise her and offer her a treat. If your dog lowers her leg to the floor but lifts it again because of the sock, praise her and offer her a treat. Practice this for ten to fifteen seconds, then remove the sock and allow her to lower her paw to the ground to rest.
Step
4
Add command
Once your dog has had a chance to rest for a minute, repeat the entire process over again. This time, when your dog lifts her leg command her to "limp", and when you remove the sock to lower her leg, command her "OK". Praise her and offer her a treat every time she lifts her leg and after every five seconds that she keeps her leg lifted in the air.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat the process until your dog can lift her leg when told "limp" and keep her leg lifted for fifteen seconds, until she is told "OK"
Step
6
Take the sock off
Once your dog can lift her leg and keep it lifted until she is told "OK," remove the sock and practice having her limp without the sock on. If she struggles to keep her leg lifted without the sock on, go back a step and practice the previous step for awhile, then try again without the sock.
Step
7
Add movement
When your dog has mastered holding her leg up without the sock, begin to add movement. To add movement, command your dog to 'limp', then, while her leg is lifted in the air, place a treat in front of her nose and slowly move the treat away from her nose in a straight line. If she takes a step forward without lowering her leg, praise her and reward her with the treat.
Step
8
Repeat until successful
If your dog lowers her leg while trying to get the treat, pull the treat away and command her to "Limp" again, then repeat luring her forward with the treat. Practice this until she will take a step forward without lowering her leg. Reward even small efforts at moving forward at this point.
Step
9
Add steps
Once your dog will take a step forward without lowering her leg until she is told "OK", add more steps. Gradually add one step at a time by only rewarding her for one more step than she took previously. Be sure to only add another step once she has mastered the current level of steps.
Step
10
Phase out the lure
Now phase out the treat lure and your hand. To phase out the treat, make the same motion with your empty hand that you have been making with your treat filled hand. When she has completed the trick, offer her a treat out of your non-luring hand. After that, begin to tell her to 'limp' and wait five seconds before luring her with your empty hand. When she limps in response to only your voice command, without your hand motion, praise her and offer five treats, one at a time. Practice until she will limp consistently when told to "limp".
Recommend training method?

The Ice Method

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Step
1
Add ice
To begin, fill a small or medium sized metal cookie sheet with one to two inches of ice. You can either fill the cookie sheet partially with water and freeze the entire sheet, or you can fill the sheet with ice cubes. Place the sheet next to your dog. With your dog standing, gently lift up one of her front legs and place the ice underneath her, where her paw was previously resting on the ground.
Step
2
Release leg
Release her leg. If she continues to hold her leg in the air, praise her and offer her a treat. If she lowers her leg down onto the ice and raises it again when she touches the ice, praise her when she raises it and offer her a treat. Practice this for fifteen to twenty seconds.
Step
3
Remove ice and rest
After fifteen to twenty seconds, command your dog "OK" and remove the ice sheet. Allow her to lower her leg so that she can rest.
Step
4
Add command
After a minute of resting, repeat the entire process by lifting her leg and replacing the ice sheet. This time when you replace the sheet, command your dog "limp" and offer her a treat every time that she lifts her leg again, or holds it in the air for five consecutive seconds.
Step
5
Practice
Practice this with rests in between, rewarding longer and longer lifts, until your dog will lift her leg when told "limp" and will hold her leg in the air for the entire fifteen seconds.
Step
6
Remove ice
When your dog can lift her leg and hold it in the air for fifteen seconds when told to 'limp', remove the ice tray and practice without the ice under her.
Step
7
Add movement
When your dog has mastered holding her leg up without the ice under her, begin to add movement. To add movement, command your dog to 'limp', then, while her leg is lifted in the air, place a treat in front of her nose and slowly move the treat away from her nose in a straight line. If she takes a step forward without lowering her leg, praise her and reward her with the treat.
Step
8
Repeat until successful
If your dog lowers her leg while trying to get the treat, pull the treat away and command her to 'limp' again, then repeat luring her forward with the treat. Practice this until she will take a step forward without lowering her leg. Reward even small efforts at moving forward at this point.
Step
9
Add steps
Once your dog will take a step forward without lowering her leg until she is told "OK", add more steps. Gradually add one step at a time by only rewarding her for one more step than she took previously. Be sure to only add another step once she has mastered the current level of steps.
Step
10
Phase out your hand
Now phase out the treat lure and your hand. To phase out the treat, make the same motion with an empty hand that you have been making with your treat-filled hand. When she has completed the trick, offer her a treat out of your non-luring hand. After that, begin to tell her to 'limp' and wait five seconds before luring her with your empty hand. When she limps in response to only your voice command, without your hand motion, praise her and offer her five treats, one at a time. Practice until she will limp consistently when told to "limp".
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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