How to Train a Husky to Play Dead

Medium
3-5 Days
Fun

Introduction

Huskies are active, intelligent dogs, with a bit of independent spirit--OK, a lot of independent spirit--thrown in for good measure. Training your Husky advanced tricks like 'play dead' is an excellent way to engage your Husky’s mind, just remember to engage his body first!  What does that mean? Huskies are high energy dogs that were bred to run hundreds of miles pulling a sled in a pack. Unless you can run hundreds of miles through the snow with him, chances are he has a lot of extra energy! You will need to burn this off in order to successfully engage his mind for obedience training and advanced tricks. 

Playing dead is a great advanced trick, as it is not only cute and entertaining for friends and family, which will win your attention-loving Husky the adoration and kudos he so desperately deserves (just ask him, he no doubt is quite confident that he deserves the admiration of his fans), but also teaches your boisterous Husky to relax and stay in a 'down' position. This can be super handy if you need to control your dog in an unexpected situation and your dog has become disciplined enough to perform the 'play dead' command, which is very similar to 'down-stay', Your dog will be more practiced at holding 'down-stay' when it is required as a result of knowing 'play dead'.

Defining Tasks

Playing dead is an advanced trick that involves a slight variation on several obedience commands strung together. Teaching your Husky to lie down, then roll onto his side, then stay, are the basic building blocks of this trick. Next, you will need to string it all together, increase the length of time your Husky lies still, which might be no easy feat, and add a command such as “play dead” or a hand signal such shooting a pretend gun made with your hand. Some owners get really creative with their play dead signals, adding sound effects or specific props or creative special verbal and hand signals. You will want to teach your Husky to hold the 'play dead' position for several seconds at least, and then provide a release command so your Husky knows when the trick is over and he can claim his reward.

Getting Started

Teaching your Husky basic obedience commands prior to any advanced tricks, especially an advanced trick like playing dead that strings together several obedience behaviors is recommended for success. Lots of treats or toys, whatever motivates your Husky to perform approximations of the trick, and eventually the trick itself, should be used. You do not ever want to use punishment when teaching a trick, it should be fun, and success rewarded. Many trainers and owners also use a clicker to capture and mark desired behaviors, and this can be a very useful tool when teaching 'play dead', or any other trick or behavior. Remember to be patient and have fun, the name of the trick may be "play dead" but it is not a matter of life and death!

The Lure Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Engage your dog
Play with your Husky first to wear him out physically, engage his attention, and make a connection.
Step
2
Lure 'down'
Ask your dog to lie down, move a treat to the ground to lure him if needed. Provide the treat.
Step
3
Lure 'over'
Once your Husky is lying down, take another treat and move the treat over to his side and over his back as you say “over”. Your Husky will track your hand with the treat and eventually will have to roll onto his side to follow your hand. Provide the treat.
Step
4
Lure 'stay'
Take another treat and say “stay”, wait a few seconds, then provide the treat. Repeat in several sessions over the next few days, gradually increasing the time your dog needs to stay lying on his side before providing the treat. Provide a release command like “up” or “OK” to let your dog know he can get up.
Step
5
Transfer to 'play dead'
Now provide the command for 'play dead', start with 'down', 'over', and 'stay' commands. Repeat frequently, gradually stop giving the 'down', 'over', and 'stay' commands and just say “play dead” or shoot an imaginary gun and say “bang”.
Recommend training method?

The String Commands Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Teach basic commands first
Take your Husky for a long run before training sessions so he can focus on you better with energy reduced. Teach your Husky the basic obedience commands 'down' and 'stay', and the simple trick 'roll over' prior to playing dead.
Step
2
Command 'down'
Give your dog the down command. Praise.
Step
3
Command 'roll over'
Sit down on the floor close to your dog and say "roll over".
Step
4
Interrupt 'roll over'
When your dog rolls over onto his back, reach out and stop him halfway over, and give him a belly scratch. Say “stay”. Add the command “Bang” or “Play Dead”. Steady your dog on his back if necessary.
Step
5
Add 'play dead' command
Provide a release command like “OK” or “Alive again”, and provide a treat. Repeat stringing the commands together and providing a treat for the completed sequence. Slowly remove your hand and intermediate commands until your dog is responding to the “play dead” command alone.
Recommend training method?

The Capture Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Reward sleep position
When you see your dog lying resting on his side, say “sleep” and praise him to mark the behavior.
Step
2
Command sleep position
Ask your Husky to lie down and say 'sleep-stay'. If he raises his head, guide it back down to the floor, praise your dog.
Step
3
Provide release command
Give a release command like “you’re OK” and encourage your dog to stand up, give him praise, play or a treat as a reward. Repeat over several sessions.
Step
4
Increase requirements
Start asking your dog to 'sleep-stay' and then stand up. Move away from your dog, while your dog remains in 'sleep-stay' position. If he gets up guide him back down, reward him after you have released him. Increase time required in sleep stay.
Step
5
Substitute commands
Substitute the command “play dead” or “bang” and pretend to shoot your dog instead of using the 'sleep-stay' command.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd