Starting off with teaching a simple trick will help boost your confidence as a trainer and raise your Golden's enthusiasm for working with you. Even if you consider a trick simple, your dog may not understand what you want and will need a more detailed shaping plan.
Goldens in particular are easy to teach since they are so willing to please and perform for the attention of it all. You will still have to break things down into simple steps. Feel free to embellish the steps listed to make it easier for your dog to be successful. Dogs are not mind readers. Most are willing to do your bidding if they understand what it is you expect from them. Set your goals low, and reward your dog with treats, toys, games, and affection. The more fun he has, the more willing he will be to work with you.
Remember to go back and teach the trick skills of shaping and targeting. There will be times when you can use them to help explain to your dog what it is you want him to do.
Your can teach spin with free shaping or a lure. For a beginner, it is probably easier to teach with a lure. You can see the results more quickly and will be more motivated to want to train more often. Feel free to add more steps to the shaping plan if you feel your dog needs more help in understanding what you want him to do.
Here are the shaping steps for teaching spin:
Use a cookie to lure your dog's nose about a quarter turn to the left or right.
Click and treat when his head is in the quarter-turn position.
Use a treat in your hand for six repetitions, clicking and treating each quarter-turn.
After the sixth repetition, try it without a treat in your hand.
Use your hand to make the same motion and click and treat if your dog offers the same turn.
If your dog doesn't follow your hand, go back to using food in your hand for three to four times and repeat.
Go back and forth between luring and not luring until your dog offers the quarter turn reliably without a food lure.
Once your dog will offer the quarter turn, go back to a food lure and try to get him to go halfway.
Click and treat right at the halfway mark for six or so repetitions.
Once your dog is moving reliably, try without the lure.
When turning halfway is not a problem, click the halfway mark but deliver the treat from your pocket.
Delivering the treat a second or two later but clicking at the halfway mark will help speed up the spin because the dog will be trying to get around faster to get his reward.
Label the behavior “spin” as the dog hits the halfway mark for many training sessions.
Once the dog is beginning to spin, as you start to move your hand, you can add a verbal cue to your hand signal by saying “spin” first and then offering the signal.
If you are recording your training progress, don't make it too complicated. If you do, you won't record your sessions or you won't want to train at all. It is no good to keep a notebook if half the time you don't write in it and the other half you just scribble anything just to be done with it.
If at any point the behavior of spinning becomes slow or begins to fall apart, drop the verbal cue (don't ask for the behavior) and go back to luring your dog for a few repetitions. Then fade the lure until he is performing the spin reliably and fast. Add the cue back in when your dog's behavior is the way you want it.
The general behavior we want is for your Golden to bend his front end to the ground while leaving his butt end in the air and hold it. This is a natural behavior for dogs and is called a play bow. Most dogs don't offer it reliably enough for you to try to catch your dog doing it and click and treat him.
Don't be afraid to keep your training session short or to add more steps to shaping the lowering of the front end if necessary. In no time at all, your Golden will be bowing at everyone he meets.
If yours is a Golden that does offer play bows frequently, you can certainly take advantage of it by clicking and treating as he is bowing. However, for those dogs that aren't offering it on their own here are the shaping steps.
Start with your dog in a standing position.
Using targeting, teach your dog to touch your hand for a click and treat.
Put your hand about halfway to the floor, and say “touch.”
Click and treat your dog for bending his head to touch your hand.
Repeat this for six to eight repetitions.
Gradually lower your hand to the ground so that your dog has to bend his elbows to touch.
If his back end flops down, too, simply don't click and try again.
You may find it useful to click the front-end dip and then toss the treat away for the dog to chase.
This tossing away will help restart the behavior for your next repetition.
Once your dog is reliably bending his front end down, delay the click by a second or two.
If the dog holds the position without lying down, click and treat.
If he lies down, don't click and try again.
Once your dog can bow and hold it for a few seconds, label it “bow” as he is doing it.
After several training sessions, you can begin to say “bow” right before the hand signal.
Later, you can fade the hand signal by gradually offering less exaggerated hand motions.