Fiona Whelan, behaviour specialist at The Company of Animals teaches her dog paw touch.
“This is a simple trick you can teach any dog, from a puppy right through to an elderly pet, and then you can expand and extend it to do all sorts of things.
“Teach your dog a paw touch — click or use ‘Yes!’ and reward him for looking at, then moving towards, then putting his paw on your hand, or another specific item.
“I teach my dogs to touch a coaster, then extend the exercise by putting the coaster somewhere so the dog has to ‘send away’, touch the coaster, then race back to get the treat. You can make it a very active behaviour, dependent on your dog’s ability, fitness, and mobility.
“I then extend the game to the dog putting their paw on a bell. I place the bell in different places around the house.
I can be sitting in another room, or I can be downstairs, and I can place the bell at the top of the stairs and the dog has to race up and hit it. I hear it, mark it with a ‘Yes!’, and the dog has to come running back to me and get a reward. You can sit and drink a glass of wine while you’re really working your dog’s brain, and giving him physical activity!
“You can intermittently move the bell. If you’ve got super-smart dogs, you can move it around and not let them see, so they’ve got to go and find it.
“I teach all dogs this behaviour. I use it if dogs are nervous, and they don’t like going in a crate, or they don’t like going in the back of the car. Once I’ve got them touching the bell, I gradually move it towards the crate or towards the boot of the car. Eventually, the dog will go in, touch the bell, and then come back, and you take their mind off the fact that they’re going into the scary place.”