Don't forget the warmups! Help your dog put their thinking cap on!

  • Warmup Heeling
  • Stretches [watch video]
  • Charge clicker, then add sits & downs.
  • Focus Trees
  • Finger/hand touch; 5 times easy, then around the room at nose height or below, keeping it easy.
  • Target stick touch. Same as above, but perhaps make it easier for your dog if the stick is harder than the hand touch.
  • Frisbee touch- The more energy and excitement you put into it, the harder your dog will push!
  • Rear-end awareness! 

Silent Cues - Sit & Down



Start by giving your dog the new command, then a half-second later give the command your dog already knows. For most dogs this will be first showing the hand signal (new), then saying the verbal command (fluent). Doing both at the same time can cause confusion and delay learning on your dog's part. 


Why the Pop-up style stand when I can lure my dog forward easily?

We teach the "pop-up stand" instead of the "walk-forward stand" for many reasons, though the most pertinent to Trick Dog are body awareness and the ability to really manipulate our dogs so we can eventually build on to this with circus-type tricks!

Do you have a noodler?

Some dogs "noodle" and flop over backward when lured into a "stand" (or rather, their own "wet noodle" position). To solve this, lure your dog forward just until they are fully standing, immediately lure them from the nose to the chest to get them to take a step backward. Repeat this several times and then you should be able to try luring like the video shows, without bringing your dog forward.

Follow nose target

Foundation exercise

This is an incredibly useful tool that should be practiced daily.



Your dog should be energetically pusing their nose into the target.

Don't pull your target away so fast that your dog comes off it. 

Increase your dog's intensity by making them move with it by pulling it further every time. However, don't make it harder every time without dropping back for some easy ones thrown in to give your dog some wins! If it's too hard, especially in the beginning, dogs may stop offering any behaviors.

Send away to foot target

*Foundation activity

Sending your dog to a foot target will help us with several tricks, including sending dogs to something specific from a distance & dogs doing commands at a distance. In order for a dog to consistently do commands at a distance away from their owner, instead of right in front of them, we must give them some form of a target for their body to be at. Without this foundation activity of showing them where to put their body, dogs creep forward to their owners when attempting distance commands.

When rewarding your dog, click & toss the cookie behind them, further away from you. This will encourage your dog to go away from you, instead of constantly checking back with you on their way out because they think a treat might come.

Duel Pedestal Jump

*Foundation activity

This is also a trick by itself for novice!


Use safe platforms that are not slick on top so your dog doesn't slide & injure themselves.

Make sure your dog is comfortable on both platforms before starting.

Begin with the platforms extremely close together and very slowly move them apart. This is NOT a competition to see how far your dog can jump! That can easily lead to injury.

Duel Pedestal Jump with Hoop



Keep the platforms close together. Too much distance can easily cause injury, especially when adding the hoop element.

Insure your platforms do not have a slick surface that could cause injury from sliding.

LIFTED hoop jump

I missed recording this one, but I have no doubt everyone will understand completely.

Your dog is now ready for the lifted hoop jump on a flat surface! 

Have your dog jump from the foot target through the hoop to the platform, as we did last week.

Now on a flat (ground only, no platform, etc) have your dog jump with the hoop 2" off the ground that your dog is used to. 

Slowly increase the distance off the ground that the hoop is. However, don't go above the bottom of their chest!

Please be aware that dogs may get tangled in the hoop. Using a hoop that breaks apart like the ones on the class list are highly recommended, to prevent injury. If your dog begins to get tangled in the hoop, let go of it completely so that it falls to the floor. Refrain from trying to get your dog untangled yourself.


Treibball is similar to herding sheep, but with balls instead of living sheep. We used our nose touch (frisbee, etc) to show our dog we want them to target the ball with their nose. This adds clarity, and helps deter them from using their feet. Once a dog starts using their feet, it's hard to get them to stop, which is why we introduce this exercise before rolling the peanuts.

Once we have our dogs targeting the ball, we learn how to send them out around the ball, to a foot target, then touch the ball. This lays the foundation to teaching our dog how to push the ball towards us. It takes a very long time for dogs to master this, but once they do, we can introduce a goal to herd the balls into.

Learn more about Treibball from the American Treibball Association.

Figure 8 through legs



This trick builds off our previous Peek-a-boo trick where our dogs go between our legs. Instead of stopping between our legs, this time they will continue around our other leg, making figure 8's through our legs!

Start with a lure, but fade it to a nose touch or following the nose target (hand, stick, or frisbee target) quickly.

The nose touch adds more awareness and clarity for the dog because it gives them a target to specifically move to towards, instead of mindlessly following a lure.

Baton jumping


Take this exercise WAY slower than you think you need to. Break it down into steps as shown in the video. Skipping ahead will cause confusion for your dog, resulting in delayed learning and potentially frustration.

Dogs don't generalize, which means small changes can be a very big deal, especially when they are visual changes (dogs think largely in pictures).

This is one of my favorite videos ever taken, because it shows at every step of the way how dog's don't generlize. For instance, I note in the video how bending down next to the jump may have a dramatic effect on how my dog performs, even though it seems so simple to us humans. However, becacuse dogs think largely in pictures, it's a dramatic change for them! This small change causes Batman, a seasoned dog with jumps, to actually go around.

There are a couple points in the video where he is tripped up by failure to generalize. See if you can find them!

Directional casting with Barrel Racing!



We used our Foot Target foundation activity to teach our dogs to go through 2 upright jump poles.

Then we taught our dogs how to come back to us around the right or left (from your dog's perspective) to you. 

Not only are you teaching your dog directionl casting with this exercise, but you're also teaching Barrel Racing!

This exercise warms your dog up for other tricks as well, such as cik & cap jump wraps/barrel racing.

Cik & cap jump wraps


Cik and cap jump wraps are exactly like barrel racing, but with a jump bar and taught the same.

Keep the jump bar EXTREMELY low when introducing this exercise. 

Be careful as you begin to lift the jump bar higher, so your dog doesn't get tangled. There is no need to raise the bar above your dog's chest.


In this exercise your dog will go around the OUTSIDE of the jump bars and back to you through the jump instead of the other way around. This is a harder exercise to do.

1) Use 2 foot targets & place them 6' away from the jump poles (like you did before) but this time place each one slightly outside of each jump pole instead of one between the poles (6' out).

2) Now send your dog to one foot target (they will go from you, around the outside of the jump pole, then to the foot target).

3) Now have your dog come back to you THROUGH the jump instead of around it like you did the cik & cap jump wraps!

4-paws on an object




Channel your dog's inner mountain goat! 😂

Keep it safe, but be creative with your objects!

This exercise is a trick, as well as a big confidence builder for your dog! However, it is important that we don't use any force whatsoever, including pulling them up, putting them up, lifting a foot up, etc. Use lures and praise only. We want to show our dogs that they can do it themselves, not that we can do it for them. Accomplishing climbing on things and being tall is a huge confidence booster, IF we allow our dogs to persevere with a hard task!


Photo courtesy of Amy, a current Trick Dog participant with her dog Frodo!