Sit, Down, Shake. What’s in Your Bag of Tricks?

My sweet, snuggly, beautiful Grace has her own vocabulary list. Yep, my daily monologue at home is now an agglomeration of commands interspersed with “Bubby!” and “give your Mum a kiss!” Dog owners please sound off if you can relate. Without further ado, here is Grace’s list (limited only by what yours truly can think to teach her):

Leave It. (or LEAVE IT!) A beautiful command because it is applicable in many situations. It can mean don’t go near the cat, don’t eat whatever I just dropped, release my slipper from your mouth, and much to my dismay, it often means leave the dog poo!

Sit. Simple, you say? Unless your dog believes she has outwitted you (which is not off the table). When first training Grace, I would go through a few commands and never really mixed it up. So now, in order to get the treat as quickly as she can, Grace thinks that Sit means to sit, lie down, sit up again, and shake. When I say Sit, she goes through the entire exercise. She is getting back to the singular Sit, but I giggle when she does the whole show.

Down. Self-explanatory, but as noted above, it has become a component of Sit. Getting Grace to lie down and stay down is the new challenge. Because every time you lie down you’re supposed to pop up like a Jack-in-the-Box and throw your paw out to shake, right?

Shake. The fact that Grace will Shake on command makes me suspicious about her issues with Sit and Down. Sometimes I can get her to Shake with the other paw immediately after, but often I get a sideways look and shifty eyes. And no paw. I guess if I shook your hand and then you stuck out your other hand to shake my other hand, I’d be a little weirded out too.

Right paw shake – no problem
Left paw shake – sometimes it’s a go and sometimes it’s just Awkward!

Stay. Oh my gosh she is such a drama queen over this one. Grace can be completely still and content. The minute I say Stay, it’s like the building is on fire and I’ve asked her to go down with the ship. She stays, but the angst is palpable. She’s cute.

Heel. Heel is to have your dog loose-leash walk next to you (leash should not be taut; should form a “J” where it hangs from your hand to the dog’s collar). The dog’s shoulders should be in line with your legs, and usually on your left side. To teach this, I’ve been told, you walk your dog with the leash in your right hand and treats in your left hand held next to your left side. Thus, the dog walks next to you because that’s where the treats are. I do not have the multitasking skills to hold the leash, dangle the treats at my side, walk, and give the Heel command simultaneously. Simply put, I forget to say Heel. While it’s a success that Grace is loose-leash walking (most of the time), she has no idea it’s called Heel. It’s just how we walk.

Great loose-leash walking, but many trainers will want the dog on your left. I’ve read various
stories about why. One is that in the old days, hunters preferred to have their dog on the
opposite side that they carried their gun. 
Another is that most people are right handed and
therefore having the dog on the left is more convenient.

So there you have it – Grace’s bag of tricks. I’m at a loss for what to teach her next. Sit Pretty is out. It really scares her and I don’t want to push something that causes her stress.

What clever little parlor trick does your dog (or cat) know? Please share and let me know how you taught it. Grace and I would love to give it a try!


4 thoughts on “Sit, Down, Shake. What’s in Your Bag of Tricks?

  1. Bryar picks up his toys at night. It’s a sequence of “Fetch”, “Kennel”, and “Drop” for each toy. I leave his kennel door open all the time now, and it’s his favorite place to sleep (with all his toys).

    1. Oh my gosh that’s awesome! Not sure if my training skills are up to the task, but I’m going to see if G can do this! She sometimes has trouble with drop it when we play fetch. We’ll see if she’s willing to drop it into her toy box. Of course now we need to get a toy box… Thanks Rick 🙂

  2. The kids taught Sadie to Spin in a Circle (while standing on her hind legs- not on all 4s chasing her tail)!!!

  3. I love it – so cute! Not sure I’ll be able to teach Miss Grace that one. She gets uneasy without all four on the floor. But she’s good at chasing her tail every now and then!

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