Jump to section
Puppies are busy, active, playful, and apt to get into a lot of trouble if you don't keep them engaged, and entertained! Training a puppy basic obedience commands can start as early as 8-12 weeks, when they are weaned, and will give your puppy a good foundation for learning tricks. Do not expect too much from a very young dog as they have short attention spans and can easily become distracted or tired. However, training a puppy to do tricks can be fun for the puppy, especially if you incorporate play into training and make it a game. This will lay a great foundation for further training and start developing your relationship with your puppy, establishing you as a leader and teaching your puppy that he should pay attention to your directions to get rewards like treats and toys and play! The 'circle me' trick is fun for puppies to learn and easily transitions into a game that a puppy can enjoy, and it is not too difficult for a young dog to learn.
The 'circle me' trick consists of your puppy circling around behind you and crossing in front of you while you stand still or sometimes, while the handler circles in the opposite direction, which looks like your dog is dancing with you. You can use the verbal command “circle me” or “dance” or “around” to direct the trick. Using treats and toys to guide your dog so he learns this trick will make it easier for a young dog. Sometimes using a leash can also help guide a puppy to get the hang of this simple trick. It is easy to add play with a toy and toss a treat or toy for your puppy to fetch while circling you to make it more fun.
You will need treats, toys, and possibly a leash to direct and guide your puppy to perform this trick. If you are using a clicker to train your puppy other behaviors, then using a clicker to shape and reinforce the 'circle me' trick is also useful. Remember to keep training sessions short and fun when working with a puppy. Never lose patience when teaching fun tricks and working with a young dog. If your puppy is having trouble picking up the behavior, take a break and try again when your puppy is more focused or wait a few weeks and try again once your puppy has a little more life experience behind him.
The Follow the Lure Method
Present a lure
Hold a treat in your hand. Show your puppy the treat and then close your hand over the treat.
Reach lure behind you
Reach your hand with the treat around behind you, and when your puppy follows your hand, provide the treat. Repeat several times.
Now reach behind you and switch the treat to your other hand so that your puppy needs to go further around behind you, and then to your other side to get the treat.
Lure in front
Once your puppy is excited about following your hand around behind you, you can toss the treat in front of you and to the side as he comes around you, or switch it to your other hand once again to complete the circle.
Add a verbal command such as “circle me”, as you lure your puppy around you. You can also switch to a toy to avoid over treating your puppy and make “circle me” into a game. Most puppies are highly motivated to follow a toy and play as a reward at the end of their circle. As your puppy gets older you can dispense with the lure and require him to do more circles around you.
The Lead with Leash Method
Put on a leash
Put your puppy on a short leash and hold it in your hand or tie it to your belt.
Start guiding in circle
Give the command for 'circle me' and start to turn in a circle, guiding your puppy with the leash as you turn.
Pair with a reward
Provide a treat or hold a toy to encourage your puppy as you complete the circle together. Repeat several times during several sessions.
Make more difficult
Once your puppy is accomplished at turning in a circle with you on a leash, stand still and give the command for 'circle me'. Guide your puppy around behind you with the leash and then in front of you to complete the circle. Provide a treat or play with a toy.
Gradually remove the leash and lure as your puppy starts to understand the command and perform “circle me” without guidance. Continue to provide praise and play at the end of the training session.
The Capture and Shape Method
Capture going behind
Stand in front of your puppy with a clicker and a treat in your hand, encourage your dog to go behind you by moving your hand around behind you. When your puppy circles behind you, click and treat to reinforce. Repeat several times.
Reinforce crossing in front
Once your puppy is circling behind you reliably, start tossing the treat as your dog comes around you, In front and to the side, so your dog has to complete the circle to get the treat. Click to mark behavior. Repeat.
Direct with toy
Replace treats with a toy. Continue to click to mark behavior, and provide a toy and play to reinforce.
Add a command
Add a verbal command to direct circling behavior such as “dance” or “circle”.
Require your puppy to make more than one rotation around you before clicking and providing play. Eventually remove clicker and replace toy and play with praise,
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 03/21/2018, edited: 01/08/2021