Do you remember the old Lassie episodes where Lassie has to crawl through mud and under obstacles? Lassie was always determined to save her owner, Timmy, no matter what injury or obstacle stood in her way. In real life, Lassie was a very well trained Collie, who had been trained to perform all types of fun tricks to show off on the big screen. German Shepherds are very intelligent breeds and, like Collies, can learn how to do many different tricks. Imagine your German Shepherd crawling under obstacles or pretending to be a heroic, injured dog, determined to get help for the person he loves.
Not only is crawling a fun trick to show off to friends, it can also be a great trick to incorporate into an obstacle course for your dog. Having your dog perform agility-like obstacle courses can be a lot of fun and can be a great way to mentally and physically stimulate an intelligent, driven dog like your German Shepherd.
While training this, your German Shepherd might be eager to go through a tunnel or under a table, but your dog also might be nervous about going into such an enclosed space. If your dog is nervous, be patient with him and keep practicing, but let him take his time warming up to it. Encourage him happily for every new attempt, and continue to replace the treats that he ate with new ones to encourage him to revisit the space. Do this until he has worked his way through the entire enclosed space and is completely comfortable, before moving onto the next steps.
If your dog has ever shown any form of aggression toward you, you should not attempt to train this trick. Because this trick requires you to be in your dog's space and it involves placing your arm by your dog's head, it could put you in a vulnerable position with an aggressive dog. If your dog is friendly though, then simply remember to have fun together while training!
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. Ideally, treats that your dog can eat quickly to keep him moving forward while crawling. If you are using the 'Table' method then you will need a table no more than six inches taller than the top of your dog's head when he is in the 'down' position. However, the table should also be tall enough for your dog to be able to easily move under it at a crawl, without getting stuck. If you are using the 'Tunnel' method, you will need a tunnel short enough that your dog must crawl in order to pass through it, rather than simply walk through while crouching. However, this tunnel will still need to be large enough for your dog to be able to move through it comfortably at a crawl, without getting stuck. Lastly, you will need patience and a happy and confident attitude to encourage your dog.