What’s better than taking a photo of your dog? Nothing! The tricky part can be actually getting him to pose for the photo. The new good news is that we have a step by step guide to show you how to teach your dog to sit still while you snap that awesome photo!
Step 1: Teach your dog to sit
- Sit for a food lure: The simplest way to teach your dog to sit is with a food lure. Take out a piece of food and bring it down to your dog’s mouth. Hold on tight as he’ll want to eat it! Slowly raise the treat over your dog’s head towards his rear end. This should cause him to lift his head up and bring his rear end down to the ground. Once he get’s into that position, feed him the treat. Do this until he is successful 4/5 times.
- Sit for a hand signal: Now that your dog has the hang of the food lure, it’s time to fade it and turn it into a hand signal. With him positioned in front of you, take your empty hand with your palm facing the sky and lift it over his head. This should cause him to sit. Once he sits, give him a treat from your other hand or pocket. Once he successfully does this 4/5 times you’re ready to move on.
- Sit for a verbal cue: Since your dog is doing so well with the hand signal, you’re ready to add in the verbal cue. With him positioned in front of you, ask him to “sit.” Give him 1-2 seconds to respond and if he doesn’t, give him the hand signal. Reward him if he sits for the verbal cue or if he needs the hand signal. Follow this pattern and he will eventually start to sit when he hears the verbal cue.
Step 2: Teach your dog to stay
Now that you have your dog in a sit, it’s time to teach him to stay. There are a lot of steps of stay to help ensure he can stay in an environment chalked full of distractions. Let’s dive in!
- Stay with a food distraction: While in the seated position, take a piece of food out and dangle it in front of him. If he can hold position while the food is dangling for 1 second, give him the piece of food. If he goes for it, which he probably will a few times, tell him, “too bad” and remove the food. If that happens, return him to position and start over. Once you get 4/5 in a row you’re ready to make it harder by dangling the food for 3 seconds. Follow that same pattern with the goal of getting 4/5 correct responses. Once that happens, it’s time to put the piece of food on the ground for 1 second. Once he does 4/5 correct, increase to 3 seconds. Your last step for the food distraction is to place the piece of food onto the ground for 3 seconds while you stand up straight. If he goes for the food, use your foot to cover it up and get him back into position. When teaching any of these behaviors, if he is getting 3/5 responses correct, do another set of 5 with that behavior until he does better. If he is getting 2/5 or less, go back to the previous step.
- Walk around stay: While your dog is in his sit, take a step to your right, return and then reward him for staying. We want to follow the same pattern as before. If he can successfully stay for 4/5 reps you’re ready to add on a second step. The second step should mean that you end up next to his side. (Depending on the size of the dog.) Once you get 4/5 you’re ready to add on a third step which means you should end up near his back end. After 4/5 successful reps you’re ready to walk around your dog. Reward him once you get back to his front. Follow the same pattern on his other side.
- Walk away stay: With your dog in his sit, ask him to “stay” and then take 6 steps backwards. Return and reward. If he can do 4/5 reps successfully you’re ready to take 12 steps backwards.
Step 3: Teach your dog to make eye contact
Now that your dog can sit and stay while you walk 12 steps backwards, you’re ready to teach him to look up at you on cue. Let’s take a look!
- Watch for a food lure: With a piece of food in between your fingers, start the food at his nose and then bring it up next to your eye. When his eyes meet yours, tell him “good” and give him the food. Once you get 4/5 successful reps, you’re ready to move the hang signal.
- Watch for a hand signal: With no food in your hand, bring your pointer finger to your dog’s nose and then up to your eye. Once he makes eye contact, reward him. (If he doesn’t make eye contact right away, make a noise with your mouth to get him to look up and then reward.) Once he does 4/5 successfully, you’re ready to add in the verbal cue.
- Watch for “Say Cheese!” cue: Look at your dog and say, “Say Cheese!” 1 to 2 seconds later, give him the hang signal from the previous step and then reward. Repeat this over and over and eventually he will make eye contact before you give the hand signal.
Step 4: Put it all together
Now you’re ready to take your photo! When you find your perfect photo place, bring your dog over and ask him to sit and stay. Take your 6-12 steps back and get your camera out. At that point, ask him to “say cheese!” This will result in him looking up at you so you can take your photo.
This plan was written by the entire ADGTK team in our staff FB group.