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Training your dog to play shy is a fun and simple trick. Your dog will look incredibly cute rubbing his paw along the length of his nose or against his eyes as if he is too shy to even look at someone. Dogs who know how to play shy are often the life of a party. There's some irony in that because anyone who is shy knows you are not the life of the party. But if you were a dog and you had a cute trick such as playing shy, you would certainly draw a lot of attention from others. This trick is cute, sweet, and incredibly tender. The largest and fiercest of dogs could appear to be sweet and sensitive while playing shy. Be sure you ask your friends to tell your dog to play shy, and get ready for all the comments of admiration.
Training your dog to play shy starts with a simple 'sit' command. If your dog knows this, playing shy is not going to be difficult at all. You will be teaching your dog essentially to take his paw, cover his eyes, and rub the side of his snout. To do this, you need to give him a reason to rub his nose. A tickle along the side of his nose, an annoying but gentle tap, or even a sticker or piece of tape will be enough to get your dog to wipe the side of his face with his paw. This is an easy trick, but if your dog doesn’t get it within a few minutes, shorten your training sessions to keep his attention. It may take a few sessions to master playing shy, but most dogs will get the motion and the command within a few minutes. If this is your dog, spend other training sessions building up his confidence, smoothing out the moves with him, and ensuring he understands the command.
To teach your dog to play shy, you will need lots of treats to reward him for a job well done. At least one method uses stickers, so at least one sticker to place on his nose will be required. A piece of tape will work too. Bring patience and lots of energy to your training sessions so he knows he’s going to have fun and get rewards. Keep your training sessions under fifteen minutes, but you can do this several times a day if you’d like.
The Sticker Method
Start by getting your dog’s attention by giving him a treat. As he waits for the next treat, get a sticker or tape at the ready. Offer him a second treat to hold his attention.
Before giving him a third treat, place a sticker or a piece of tape gently on his nose or snout. The goal is for him to feel something on his nose, not for it to stick to his skin.
When he uses his paw to push the sticker off his nose, give him a treat. If you use a clicker, click and treat. You are marking this behavior with him and rewarding him for pawing his nose.
Repeat this several times, marking the pawing of his nose each time.
Continue with the steps above, but this time, instead of leaving the sticker for your dog to remove, just touch the sticker to his nose and remove it yourself. The goal here is to get him to still paw his nose but without a sticker in place. Do this several times, marking the behavior with a treat.
Using only one hand, touch the side of his nose. At this point, he should paw at his nose as he did with the sticker. If he does not, go back and repeat the above steps.
As your dog gets used to pawing his nose without the sticker and only by a simple touch, begin using a command such as ‘play shy.’ Continue to touch the side of his nose and say the command. Be sure to reward him each time he is successful
It may take a bit more time to get your dog to hold this paw on his nose, but keep practicing. To encourage him to hold the pose longer, move the treat below, him forcing his head into a dipped position. Also, hold off a moment or two longer before marking the behavior. Over time, he will connect the command with the action and the treat with the length of time he held the pose.
The Face Target Method
Teach your dog to shake your hand by holding your hand out low. If he doesn’t paw your hand right away, work on this by offering him treat for acknowledging your hand and work your way up to getting his paw into your hand.
Keep practicing this shake trick until your dog can target your hand no matter where you place it.
Move your hand to various positions high and low, expecting your dog to target your hand each time.
Be sure you give your dog a treat each time he successfully targets your hand.
Move your hand to a higher position, expecting the dog to touch the target. Reward your dog for a job well done. Repeat this several times, moving your hand higher and closer to your dog’s face.
Once your dog hits his target with his paw each time you’ve repositioned your hand, begin to place your hand next to his face. Be sure to reward when his paw touches his target. At this point, his paw should be pretty close to rubbing his face to get to your hand.
Begin to add a command such as ‘play shy’ to the action and repeat targeting near his face. You may need to begin to position your hand over his snout to get his leg and paw into the correct acting shy position.
Once your dog has done this several times, use only the command. Your dog should move his paw along his nose in the same way he did while targeting your hand close to his face. Reward him for playing shy.
The Tap Nose Method
Start by playing a game with your dog to make sure you have his full attention. This should be an up-close game such as tug of war or tickle time.
Once you are done playing and your dog is eager to spend more time with you, give him a treat. You can also have him sit and reward him for sitting on command.
Touch your dog’s nose with your finger. This is a gentle tap. Treat once you’ve removed your finger.
This time, hold your finger to his nose for a moment longer. He may try to look away to remove your finger, but likely he will use his paw to rub his nose. If he doesn’t use his paw, keep trying. You can move your finger up closer to his eyes and give him a little tickle if that will help to get a reaction.
When he uses his paw to rub his nose, give him a treat.
When he uses his paw to rub his nose, give him a treat.
Continue to practice with the gentle tap and touch to his nose while using the command.
After several tries of practicing with the touch and the command, begin to only use the command. If your dog does not do the 'play shy' pose, repeat the steps above, touching his nose again.
Be sure you are marking and rewarding the behavior each time with a treat.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 11/03/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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