Training

|

2 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Shake His Head

Training

|

2 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Shake His Head
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon1-7 Days
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

Everyone wishes their dog could talk. Just imagine the things he'd be able to tell you: what he's thinking, what his wants and needs are, his likes and dislikes... It's a premise that has been explored in television shows and movies like Disney-Pixar's Up. Of course, the collar that allows golden retriever Dug to talk also reveals that his thoughts are monopolized by canine pursuits like chasing squirrels. Still, the idea of being able to talk to our fur-babies is a fun one.

Unfortunately, dog-to-human translators aren't likely to hit the market anytime soon. So why not teach your dog to do the next best thing?

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to shake his head in response to a yes or no question is a fun behavior to add to his roster of tricks. This behavior can be learned by dogs of any age (though the ability to ask your dog to sit and pay attention are helpful) in less than a week. Asking your dog if he wants a new feline sibling is sure to get a laugh from friends and family...or his devoted Youtube followers.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

What you'll need:

  • Treats: positive reinforcement is key when teaching your pup a new¬†behavior. Choose a special treat that gets his attention and that he'll be willing to work for. Think dried liver, a piece of cheese, peanut butter, etc.
  • Clicker: if your dog is familiar with clicker-training, a clicker can be used to signify what¬†behavior¬†you are looking for.

Things to note:

  • It is best to start training in a quiet indoor environment with little chance for distraction, such as other pets or unexpected noises.
  • Training is¬†best accomplished¬†one-on-one, rather than with multiple owners. Full attention and eye contact are key.
  • Don't let your dog get bored or tired out¬†by¬†training. If your dog loses focus after repeating a¬†behavior, end the training session,¬†give him¬†praise and resume training at another time. Keep training fun and fresh!
arrow-up-icon

Top

The Hand Signal Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Ask your dog to sit

Make sure your dog is calm and attentive. Ask him to sit in front of you and make eye contact.

2

Make a fist around a treat

Place his preferred treat in your hand and make a closed fist around it. Make sure your dog sees this.

3

Move your fist from left to right

Slowly move your fist from left to right. Your dog should follow the movement with his head. When he does, reward him with the treat. Make sure he follows your fist with his whole head and not just his eyes.

4

Repeat

Repeat until he is consistently performing the desired behavior.

5

Try without the treat

Now try the side-to-side motion again without the treat in your fist. If your dog follows the motion correctly, treat him immediately from your other hand. If he does not make the connection, you may need to take a step back and repeat the signal with his treat in-hand. Be patient!

6

Streamline your hand signal

Practice this step multiple times, being sure to treat immediately when your dog correctly shakes his head. Try slowly minimizing your hand signal to the point where you move your fist slightly from side to side, or with your index finger raised in an 'uh-uh' gesture.

7

Mix it up

Once your dog is consistently shaking his head in response to your hand signal, you can start treating intermittently rather than every time the behavior is performed correctly. Keeping your dog on his toes will keep him attentive and eager to learn.

8

Ask a question

Your hand signal can now be preceded by a 'yes' or 'no' question, which Fido will answer in the negative.

The Clicker Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Use the clicker method

Clicker training is a way to let your dog know that he has performed the correct behavior and is going to be rewarded for it. If he is used to clicker-training, he can quickly come to associate an action with a desired behavior.

2

Get your dog's attention

With clicker in hand, ask your dog to sit and make sure that he is attentive.

3

Make a fist

Holding the clicker in one hand, wrap your other hand in a fist around your dog's treat. Make sure he sees you do this.

4

Move your fist from side to side

Move your fist from side to side in an exaggerated movement. When your dog follows your fist with his head, immediately click the clicker to inform him that he's done what you wanted. Be sure to give him the treat after you've clicked.

5

Repeat

Repeat this step until your dog is consistently shaking his head in response to the movement of your fist.

6

Try without the treat

Try the side-to-side motion again without the treat in your fist. Be sure to acknowledge correct behavior when your dog does it by immediately clicking the clicker and treating from your other hand. Be patient if your dog does not progress to this step right away - you might have to go back to using the treat in your fist.

7

Minimize your hand signal

Try slowly reducing your hand signal to the point where you move your fist only slightly from side to side, or with your index finger raised in an 'uh-uh' gesture. Continue to click when your dog performs the head shake correctly, and follow with a treat. Remember, to your dog, the click means good behavior, which equals a treat.

8

Ask a 'yes' or 'no' question

Precede your hand signal with a 'yes' or 'no' question. You should be able to ask your dog to perform the behavior now without the clicker, but be sure to praise him when he gets it right and to treat intermittently to encourage him to want to perform his new trick.

The Verbal Command Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Get your dog's attention

Ask your dog to sit and make sure that he is making eye contact with you - when he is fully attentive, start your training.

2

Make a fist around a treat

Have your dog watch as you close your fist around his treat.Have your dog watch as you close your fist around his treat.

3

Move your fist and give your command

Move your fist from left to right slowly while also giving a short verbal command, such as "say no way." Be sure to be consistent in the words and tone that you use. Reward him with the treat when he correctly follows the movement of your fist.

4

Repeat

Repeat this step until your dog is regularly following your fist with his whole head (not just his eyes). Be sure to give the same verbal command before every gesture with your fist.

5

Remove the treat

Give your command and move your fist from left to right without the treat enclosed in your fist. Your dog should follow it anyway - if he does, give him a treat from your other hand; if not, you may have to practice more with the treat in-fist.

6

Remove your hand gesture

Once your dog is consistently shaking his head, try minimizing and then completely removing the hand-signal, so that he responds to your verbal command alone. Be sure to treat intermittently when he performs the behavior correctly to keep him interested.

7

Ask a question before giving your command

Finally, you can ask a 'yes' or 'no' question before giving the verbal command. Fido says, 'no way!'

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 01/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Koda

Dog breed icon

Lab/ great pyrnesses

Dog age icon

3 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Koda was a rescue dog that we adopted since February. He has had training. Knows how to lay down with commands and hand shakes. But we do not understand what he is saying when he shakes his head? At first I thought he had ear infection. But the vet cleared him of that several times. So we figured out he is taking to us but have no clue what he wants???

Dec. 3, 2019

Koda's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Syvla, Unfortunately I cannot help with this much without being there in person to look into the matter. His ear might be ticklish. Since your ruled out a potential eye infection, if could simply be fur growing in his ear or wax build up. He might shake his head when excited or when a noise bothers him, or when feeling anxious. Some dogs develop obsessive behaviors such as licking or circling, it could be an obsessive behavior. He might also just do it for attention if he has discovered it gets him attention or brings laughs. Look at his overall body language and see if there is a trend. Does he look excited, worried, or frustrated when he does it each time? Is their fur in his eye growing in an odd way that might be irritating or wax build up? Does he get a lot of attention or laughter whenever he does it, that could be encouraging him to do it more? You will need to play detective or hire someone who can evaluate him in person. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 3, 2019


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.