Junior-High Level Tricks
These tricks are a little more complicated than the others but still doable for most dogs. The sky is the limit for what you want to teach your dog so long as the task is physically possible for the dog to accomplish. Breaking things down into tiny increments is essential, as is some knowledge of free shaping. Remember when using free shaping to teach a behavior that you are using the clicker exclusively to give the dog information about what it is doing correctly.
Well-timed clicks done at the exact moment your dog gets the trick right will produce progress toward your end goal. Stingy or sloppy clicking will produce a confused Golden that doesn't want to play anymore. Take your time with these, and you will reap the rewards of a dog that loves to perform tricks!
Bang! You're Dead
Playing dead is a favorite, and gets a chuckle out of just about any dog lover you meet. For this trick, the dog must lie completely flat on his side without so much as a tail wag. The difficulty in this trick is not so much the position the dog must be in, but the fact that he must be absolutely still.
Here are the shaping steps for teaching your dog to play dead:
Start with your dog in a down.
Use a treat to get him to roll onto his side, then click and treat.
Hold the treat close to his shoulder to coax him closer to the ground, then click and treat.
Repeat this until he will get onto his side from a standing position easily.
Once he is in position, delay the click by a second or two so he will hold it.
Gradually build up the time he will stay by delaying the click by a few more seconds.
Now start from the beginning without a lure and click any attempt to get into a down.
Gradually require that your dog get closer to the right position before clicking and treating.
Once he is easily flopping onto his side, click and treat.
Label the behavior “Bang” as he is in position, then click and treat.
Replace your hand signal with a thumb and finger gun right before you say “Bang.”
Teaching your dog to play dead isn't difficult, but it may require you to work it in short frequent sessions. This is especially true if you have a young active Golden that hates sitting still. A good time to practice this might be after your dog has had exercise and is ready to take things a little more slowly.
Say You're Sorry
This is an adorable trick taught entirely by free shaping. Free shaping involves using clicker and treats to capture behavior that is on the way to an end goal. Free shaping is a great tool and skill to have as a trainer, and it can produce the most amazing results. This trick involves the dog lying down and lowering his head to the ground, eyes up and looking at you. It is the ultimate heartbreaker; those soulful eyes will get your audience every time.
Here are the shaping steps for teaching “Say you're sorry”:
Start with your dog in a down.
Watch him closely for any head motion down, then click and treat.
Continue to click and treat for gradually more downward head motion.
Once your dog is bobbing his head up and down, stop clicking and wait.
If he makes an effort to lower his head to the ground, click and treat.
Withhold the click until he rests his chin on the ground, then click and treat.
Once he gets his chin on the floor reliably, delay the click by a second or two.
Gradually increase the time you delay the click until he is holding it for several seconds.
Build up to the desired amount of time.
When you have the duration you are looking for, label the behavior “Sorry,” then click and treat.
You must make sure that your dog has connected the behavior to being clicked before withholding the click, or he won't understand what you are aiming for with the delay. The more closely you watch for subtle head positions or minor details, the better you will be at teaching this trick.
This is a fun trick to teach and a great skill for you to learn. With free shaping, you are basically only clicking one aspect of a behavior until your Golden is doing it regularly. Once he is offering it regularly, you then withhold the click so that the dog will offer something more dramatic or will hold the position for a longer period of time.