Targeting Training

Many of my clients dogs have a hard time playing with and interacting with other dogs.  These dogs often play well with well-known, "buddy-dogs" and demonstrates good play-skills in comfortable situations, but do poorly with new dogs or in new places.  

With work the dog can learn to meet and greet the novel dogs without being inappropriate, but there is often no play.  In these cases the dog-in-training often starts getting jumped by the other dogs (in a not so friendly way).  This happens after the Meet-&-Greet, because the dog-in-training sniffs a hello and then just stands there stiffly.  This is awkward and invites aggressiion -a sort of preemptive strike against the dog who is standing stiffly and giving everyone the willies.

In these cases teaching a PLAY-BOW can bridge the gap between meeting and becoming friends.  It gives the dog-in-training something to do (besides standing awkwardly).  Furthermore, despite its trained-awkwardness it gives the other dogs something to do too -they can respond with more playfulness.

How To Teach A Play-Bow

Dog is standing...

1. Take a small treat and place it on your dogs nose.

2. Let your dog smell and lick at the treat, but don't let them eat it.

3. Slowly, very SLOWLY move the treat from your dog's nose in a straight-line down to the floor (right between your dogs front paws).

4. If your dog bends her elbows (even a little) while her tail-end is still in the air (not a down), praise and treat your dog.

If your dog's bottom flops to the ground, pull the treat away, stand-up and move away form your dog.  Wait until your dog is standing to begin again.

5. Keep doing this for 5 or 10 minutes everyday until your dog easily goes into the position shown above.


a. Call it something cute!  I like:  "Go play" or "New Friend"

b. Say this new phrase or the word, BOW

c. Then pause.... wait 10-15 seconds.

d. Now give your dog a HINT:  lure the trick.

If your dog does it, praise and treat your dog.

e. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

f. When your dog finally does this after the command and BEFORE the hint, JACKPOT your dog with 7 or 8 treats all at once!

g. Repeat some more.

h. Take it on the road; try it outside with no dogs around.  

Don't be surprised if your dog needs a review in new places or once dogs are around.