This fun and easy to teach trick is not only cute, but helps stretch your dog out and keep him limber, which can prevent injuries when he is running around like a madman. Your friends will think it is fun too and once mastered, you can build on it to create more complicated tricks.
Quite simply, the spin is just a 360 degree tight turn in either direction. Some dogs do this trick super-fast, others are slow. Don’t worry about speed in the beginning, you can work on that later.
The easiest way to teach a spin is by luring.
- Take a treat and put it on your dog’s nose. Ideally, we want them to be able to smell and even lick the treat, but not actually get it.
- Slowly move your hand in the direction you want your dog to spin (teaching one direction at a time will be easier on your dog).
- Once you have done a full circle, click or use your marker word and give your dog the cookie.
This video will show you how to lure, if you haven’t before. It’s not the best for training in general, she she does not use a marker word or click to let the dog know he did the right behavior, and she is rushes through the steps, but you can see how she lured the dog at first.
Fading the Lure
You want to fade the lure as quickly as possible – to avoid getting stuck.
- Start moving the cookie further and further away from his nose, still using your hand as the “signal” to do the spin. Mark/reward when he has completed the 360.
- It will be a bit different for every dog, but generally speaking your goal is to get your hand about a foot above your dog’s head and he is still spinning.
- At this point, remove the cookie from your hand and repeat the signal with an empty hand.
- If he does not follow, he is not ready for you to remove the lure yet. Go back to luring.
- If he follows, mark when he makes the 360 and reward him.
A great video of this is Emily Larham’s Fading the Lure While Teaching Spin.
Adding a Verbal Cue
Once your dog is fluidly doing the spin, it’s time to add a verbal cue, if you like. Some people just use hand signals for the left and right spin (Whichever way your hand is going, the dog goes too). Others put it on a verbal and fade the hand signal completely.
If you are going to add the verbal – chose your words. Some people use “left” and “right,” but you could call them anything you want like, “crazy” and “frenzy” as long as you remember which word means a spin to the right and which a spin to the left.
To add the cue….
- Start saying the cue while your dog is spinning following your hand signal.
- Slowly back the cue out until you are saying it before you give the hand signal.
- Watch your dog – when he starts to spin before you give the hand signal, you know he has the verbal. You can now try verbal only and see if he gets it. If he misses 3 times, go back to using the hand signal for a bit longer.
Once you have taught your dog this trick – have fun! You can teach your dog to spin on a chair, spin while moving around you, spin on either side of your body (a canine freestyle move) – your imagination is the only limit to what you and your dog can come up with, so imagine and go do!
About the Author
Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She is the founder of A Fairytail House, a unique all-positive all-sport dog training facility that helps rescue dogs in her area and provides free seminars and training classes for the community. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.