Tricks of the Trade

Dogs should be trained to respond to both verbal and non-verbal commands from their handler. In case the team is in a situation where verbal may be inappropriate (such as libraries) or when the handler has their arms full and cannot give a non-verbal command.

STAND            Dog remains in a standing position wherever their handler has placed them.

SIT                   Dog remains in a sit position wherever their handler has placed them. The dog will spend a lot of time in this position. This position is used when your dog has to stay in the one place for a short amount of time.

DROP              Dog remains in a laying down position wherever their handler has placed them. This position will be used when your dog has to stay in the one place for pro-longed periods of time. For working breed dogs you may find that this becomes their “default” position, meaning they will move into the drop position even after they have been told to sit.

DOWN            This position is also referred to as “Play Dead”. Aside from a comedic trick to show off to your friends, this position can be used to calm an overly excited dog down and regain control over a misbehaving dog. The down position is also a good position to desensitize dogs as this is their submissive pose, you should be able to walk over, pat and poke a dog all over without getting a reaction from them while in this position.

COME/HERE   This is the command used by the handler to call the dog back to them, usually releasing them out of the stand, sit, drop or down position. The dog should come directly to the handler without becoming distracted. This command can also be used during a walk to keep the dog in the desired position.

GO/OKAY       This is another command used by the handler to release the dog from the stand, sit, drop or down position. However this command does not call the dog back to the handler. It is a release word, telling the dog that they are allowed to move from their previous position and that they are not needed for work. Example would be when allowing your dog to go for a run on the beach.

STAY/WAIT    While a dog should remain in the stand, sit, drop or down position without moving until told by their handler sometimes it is necessary for a command to reinforce it.

BLOCK           (Assistance Dog Task) This is not a trick, it is a task. While it is easy to train it is an important task for an assistance dog who has an owner with anxiety, PTSD, autism (to name a few). The dog goes into a drop position in front of the handler on command, this creates a barrier between the handler and the rest of the world. It is very useful for giving the handler as personal space when need be.

BEHIND          (Assistance Dog Task) Like block, this is not a trick, it is a task. It is relatively easy to train it is a very important task for an assistance dog who has an owner with anxiety, PTSD, autism (to name a few). The dog goes into a drop position behind the handler on command. This creates a barrier between the handler and the rest of the world. Rather than this position being one to give the handler personal space, like block is, this position is to provide the handler with a sense of security as people are considerably less likely to approach the handler from behind with a dog laying between them.

TAKE              (Assistance Dog Task) This task can also be fun trick to teach your dog to show your friends and family, but it does provide a good service for a physically disabled handler. The dog is trained to pick up objects that the handler points to. The dog should be able to pick up anything from dropped pegs, to rubbish, to a blanket, even a small handbag. The dog should be trained to hold the object until given a command from the handler.

GIVE               (Assistance Dog Task) This task can also be fun trick to teach your dog to show your friends and family, but it does provide a good service for a physically disabled handler. This is the finishing command from take. The dog should drop whatever is in its mouth or gently place it in their handler’s lap/hand. This can also be a convenient trick for a regular companion dog, usually just to drop the ball or stick they have retrieved from fetch so that the handler doesn’t have to try to wrestle it from the dog’s mouth.

IN THE BIN    (Assistance Dog Task) This task can also be fun trick to teach your dog to show your friends and family, but it does provide a good service for a physically disabled handler. This is another of the finishing commands from take. The dog should drop whatever is in its mouth into a bin, dog should be trained to be able to do this with any sort of bin. If the dog is big enough they should be trained to jump up and balance on their hind legs so they are able to place things in larger bins, such as otto bins.

TOUCH           Dog is trained to “shake” paws with their handler, or anyone who would like to meet your dog. With training the dog should be able to alternate between paws depending on which hand was offered.

NOSE              Similar to touch, but rather than using the paw the dog will touch the offered hand with their nose.

HIGH FIVE      The dog should jump up and touch their paw to the offered hand that is held in a higher position than touch.

UP                   Command given to your dog to tell them that they are allowed up on something; that may be your lap, a chair, the stairs. Your dog should only ever get up on something that you have allowed him/her to.

DOWN            This is the command given when you want your dog to get down off something. As soon as this command is given your dog should get down off of whatever it was, this includes your lap.

SLOW              This command is given when you want your dog to slow their pace before coming to a stop. It is especially useful when you are walking your dog off lead, or not wanting to put too much tension on their lead.

STOP               This command is for getting your dog to come to a standstill. You can practice this command by walking and coming to a stop, your dog should stop whenever you do. After your dog has perfected this it will be safe for you do try this command walking off lead even when walking off lead.

SPEAK            A fun trick to show to your friends, but also a good way to teach your dog when and when not to bark.

SEARCH         (Assistance Dog Task) This is not a trick, it is a task. While it is easy to train it is an important task for an assistance dog who has an owner with anxiety, PTSD, autism (to name a few). A handler will be able to get their dog to search individual rooms of the house on command, and will alert to any strange noise or person they find. Dog should never react aggressively/protectively right away, rather they should just give a small bark to let their owner know that they have found something out of the ordinary and wait for their handler to give them another command. If the dog does not find anything they should return to their handler and give them a signal that everything is safe, maybe a lick on the hand or a nudge with their nose.

WATCH          (Assistance Dog Task) This is not a trick, it is a task. While it is easy to train it is an important task for an assistance dog who has an owner with anxiety, PTSD, autism (to name a few). The dog moves into a sit position, not drop even though it may be their default position, next to their handler but they are facing back. This is useful when the handler is at an ATM, cash register or getting something out of their bag. While the dog is just sitting in a casual position it gives the impression that the dog is watching for potential threats, muggers or predator are less likely to approach if they think a dog may be on guard. However, a dog should never react aggressively towards anyone while out in public, unless their owner is under attack.

BACK              This command is to bring your dog back into a heel position if he/she has wandered a little too far ahead. If the command is repeated your dog should move a few steps behind you, and if it is repeated again the dog should go into a drop position behind you (not in the same way as behind).

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