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Imagine that it is raining outside and you let your pup outside to use the bathroom. While he is outside he gets excited and starts "the zoomies", dashing around your yard like a madman. When he finally gets tired and relieves himself, he comes to your back door to be let inside. You start to open the door and quickly close it again to prevent him from running inside, because your small white dog is now a brown, sopping mess! You pick him up and whisk him off to the bathtub, holding him away from your body in an attempt to stay dry yourself. You plop him into the tub, and after a few minutes of rinsing and scrubbing, your white dog is once again white. You lift him out of the tub with a towel and begin to towel him off. He wiggles out of your hands and starts to shake off all over you, then he takes off and dashes around your bathroom, rubbing against every type of fabric that he can find, including your pant legs. When you finally catch him he is relatively dry from all of his rubbing, but you are now wet and smell like a dog.
If you have ever bathed your dog, then you are probably well aware that the water doesn't just stay on your dog. Your dripping wet dog inevitably decides to shake off all over you and everything around him at some of the worst possible moments. Moments such as: right when you lean in to reach for something, right when you move the curtain that was protecting you out of the way, and right after you take him out of the tub, before you have had the chance to dry him off. What if you could teach your pup to shake when you told him to? So that you could be ready for the water, and so that you could lift a semi-dry dog out of the tub instead of a dripping wet one. ‘Shake Off’ is a wonderful command to teach your pup for exactly those reasons. In addition to being used to keep you drier, it could also be a cute trick to entertain friends with.
Because your pup probably does not shake his body very often, expect this trick to take longer to teach, especially if you are using ‘The Capture Method’, which depends on him offering the behavior on his own. This trick is fairly simple to teach though.
Your pup is most likely to shake his body when something is tickling him, moving on him, or bothering his ears. By using water and confetti in ‘The Wet Dog Method’ and ‘The Confetti Method’ you are creating a moving, tickling sensation that is likely to cause him to shake off. Which method will work best for you will largely depend on which method your dog naturally responds to better. If the method you try does not work after several attempts, then try one of the other methods instead. ‘The Capture Method’ will work well if your dog tends to shake his body a lot on his own, or if he does not respond to the confetti or water.
If Fido does not like water, then do not use ‘The Wet Dog Method’. Using his approach when you pup is already afraid of water can make such a fear worse. If your pup does not mind water and you use ‘The Wet Dog Method’ then make the training lots of fun, so that he does not grow to dislike the water. To make the training fun try to sound excited and happy when you tell him "Shake off", give him lots of treats for getting it right, and end the session with a fun game, possibly involving the water. If he seems to be getting stressed by the water, then either take a break and play a game or end the training session for that day, and start fresh another day. Always end this training session on a fun note and do not push your dog too far with this one.
If you are using ‘The Wet Dog Metho’ then be sure to use room temperature or lukewarm water, and not hot or cold water. Using hot or cold water will make the training unpleasant for your dog, and can lead to a fear or dislike of water. If the water from your hose is too hot or cold, then fill up a bucket inside and bring the water outside. Also be sure to only use this method on a warm or hot day, so that Fido does not get cold from being wet. Finally, expect to get wet yourself while using this method, so dress appropriately and enjoy getting to cool off on a hot day!
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats, that Fido loves. You will also need a small Ziploc bag and a pocket to place it into, or a treat pouch. You will need a cheerful attitude, enthusiasm, perseverance, and patience. If you are using ‘The Wet Dog Method’ then you will also need a long leash, warm or hot weather outside, a cup, a large bucket of room temperature water or a hose with room temperature water in it, a hand towel, a pup who is not afraid of water, and the expectation to get wet yourself.
If you are using ‘The Capture Method’ then you will need good timing and ample praise. If you are using ‘The Confetti Method’ then you will need several sheets of paper cut or torn up into two inch or smaller pieces. You will also need a broom, a dustpan, and a room where it will be easy to sweep up the confetti in. If your pup is likely to wander away during the training, then you will also need a leash and collar or for the room that you are in to have a door that can be closed.
The Wet Dog Method
Gather your things
To begin, go outside with your dog when it's warm outside. Bring lots of small treats that he really loves and something to place the treats into, such as a small Ziploc bag placed into your pocket, or a treat pouch. Bring a long leash, a hand towel, a cup, and a large bucket of room temperature water. If you have a hose and the water is not too hot or too cold, then you can also fill up your cup with the hose water as needed, instead of using a large bucket of water. If your pup is afraid of water, then do not use this method.
Get set up
When you are outside with your pup, attach one end of the long leash to something secure nearby, and then clip the other end to your pup. Make sure that he cannot slip out of his collar or harness, and that the leash is securely attached to him. Place the bucket of water or the hose, the hand towel, and the cup, nearby. Place the hand towel somewhere where it will not get too wet.
Bring your dog over close to you and then fill up your cup with water from the bucket or the hose. Gently trickle the water onto your dog's head, and when he shakes his head to get the water off, tell him "Shake off" in an excited tone of voice, then praise him and give him a treat. If he does not shake his body, then repeat trickling the water on him, or try toweling off his head to get him to shake.
Repeat trickling the water or toweling him off several times, then do something fun with him and stop the training for that day. If your pup seems afraid, stressed, or unhappy at any point, then end the training for that day with a fun game, and then try again another day.
On warm or hot days, practice this training often, repeating it several times in a row. Always keep it fun and rewarding by giving him treats and ending the training with a game. Do this until your pup will 'shake off' consistently when you tell him to while he is still dry.
The Capture Method
Get set up
To begin, grab some small, tasty treats, that your pup loves. Grab a small Ziploc bag or a treat pouch, to place your treats into, then watch your dog carefully.
Anytime that you see your dog shake his body tell him "Shake off", then praise him, quickly go over to him, and when he stops shaking, give him a treat
Practice telling your dog to 'shake off', praising him, going over to him, and rewarding him with a treat anytime that you see him shake his body. Do this until you have caught your dog shaking at least forty times throughout the year.
Try, try again
After you have caught your dog shaking his body at least forty times, then call him over, show him a treat, and tell him "Shake Off". Wait ten seconds to see if he will do it. If he does not do it, then repeat your command. Do this up to ten times in a row.
Practice for longer
If your pup does not shake his body any of the times, then go back to catching him doing it on his own, until you have caught him doing it at least ten more times. After the ten times, call him over and tell him to 'shake off' again, to see if he knows the command now. Repeat catching him shaking and then testing him until he will shake his body when you give him the command.
Practice, practice, practiice
When Fido will shake his body when you tell him to shake off, then practice the command until he can do it consistently. Go back to catching him doing it on his own a few times if he becomes confused during the training. After he has been rewarded for doing it on his own a few times, then resume calling him over and telling him to 'shake off'. Once your pup can do it consistently when told to, then he has learned the trick. Great job! Continue to practice this trick occasionally to keep him from forgetting it.
The Confetti Method
To begin, cut several pieces of paper into two inch or smaller pieces of confetti. Grab lots of small treats that your pup loves and something to place them into, such as a small bag, placed into your pocket, or a treat pouch. Grab a broom and a dustpan, and with your dog, go to a room in your home where it will be easy to sweep the confetti up.
Sprinkle the confetti
When you are all set up, sprinkle the confetti onto your dog's head, including his ears. When he shakes it off, tell him "Shake off", and praise him and give him a treat. If he does not shake off when you sprinkle the confetti, then blow on the confetti on his head and ears, so that it tickles him. If the confetti and the blowing do not work after several attempts, then you will need to use a different method.
After you have rewarded your pup for shaking, sweep up the confetti, gently brushing off any that is left on your dog to the floor, and repeat the entire process several times again, then end the session for that day.
Have confetti parties often
Have confetti training sessions often, where you sprinkle confetti on your dog, tell him to "Shake off", and praise him and reward him with a treat when he does so. After every ten repetitions of sprinkling him, test whether or not he has learned the command by telling him to 'shake off' in an excited tone of voice without sprinkling confetti on him first. After you give the command, wait ten seconds to see if he will do it, before you sprinkle the confetti on him and repeat your command.
Practice makes perfect
Practice sprinkling confetti on Fido and testing him after every ten sprinkles until he will consistently shake his body when you tell him to 'shake off' without you putting confetti on him.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 04/27/2018, edited: 01/08/2021