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How to Train a Dog to Spin

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Spinning is a fun dog trick that is fairly simple to train a dog to do. You can train a dog to simply spin in one direction, or you can train him to discriminate between left and right.

What You Need

All you need to train a dog to spin is a handful of treats. If you are clicker training, you should also have a clicker on hand.

Here's How to Do It

  1. Start with your dog in a standing position. It may help to teach your dog to stand on command if you haven't already.

  2. Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose, and give the command "spin."

  3. Slowly pull the treat toward the side of your dog's head so he'll have to turn his head to follow it.

  4. Keep pulling the treat around in a circle around your dog's body so he'll have to spin in order to keep track of the treat.

  5. Once your dog has followed the treat in a complete circle, tell him "good" or click your clicker, and give him the treat.

  6. Spend about 5 minutes several times a day practicing the spin. Your dog will be spinning in a complete circle before you know it.

Adding Direction

Once your dog is spinning on command, you can begin training him to learn directions. Here's how you train this dog trick:

  1. Begin as you did in step 1 above with a treat in front of your dog's nose.

  2. This time you are going to change the command to "right spin" or "left spin." Give the command, and pull the treat around your dog in the direction you want him to spin.

  3. Practice in several short training sessions each day. Be sure to work on only one new command (right or left spin) at a time until your dog has a solid understanding of the difference in the two commands.

  4. Once your dog knows how to spin both right and left on command, you can begin to change it up. Ask him to spin in different directions during one training session. Once your dog is able to consistently respond correctly to the command by spinning in the right direction, you'll know he has a good grasp of the difference between the two commands.

Troubleshooting

  1. Many dogs will have trouble learning to spin in a complete circle the first time. In this case, you can start out smaller and work up to spinning all the way around. This technique is called shaping, and it works exceptionally well with the clicker.

    If you need to shape the spinning behavior, start off by pulling a treat to one side of your dog's head. As soon as he turns his head, click or tell him "good" and give a treat. Once he is consistently turning his head, you can begin only clicking and treating when he turns his head and takes a step towards turning around. In this way, you can slowly select the behaviors that bring your dog closest to turning around completely until he's able to turn in a complete circle with only one treat at the end.

  2. If it seems as if your dog knows the command, but then begins to make mistakes, chances are you've moved ahead too quickly. In this case, simply go back a few steps to where your dog was completely successful. Practice at that step over a few sessions, and then begin moving ahead again slowly.

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