Training your dogs to give hugs sounds a lot more difficult than it is. If your dog is able to “sit” on command, he or she can be trained to give hugs to anyone or anything you choose. Sound like fun? Keep reading to find out how to do it!
Step One – Start Off Slow
As long as your dog is able to hold the sit position, he should be able to work up to a one-armed hug with no problem. You may have to work up to a 2-armed hug more gradually, but with patience and training, you’ll both get there.
Start off by getting your dog to target your hand with his paw. This can be a trick on its own – get your dog to learn the “high-five” or “paw” command.
Step Two – Move On
Next, teach your dog to paw an object on command. Something small and hand-sized. Maybe start with a favorite toy, then once your dog is consistently pawing the toy on command, move on to something else small like a notepad or your wallet. Anything your dog can target with his paw that fits into your hand.
Once your dog is pawing different small objects on command, move on to something long and cylindrical like a broom handle or an umbrella. The item should be appropriate to the dog’s size, and it should be able to balance on the floor with your help.
Step Three – Teach the Paw Wrap
Once your dog has learned to touch the umbrella or broom on command, begin gently pushing it toward your dog, which will force your dog to naturally wrap his paw around it. Reward your dog when he does this successfully. This can take some time, but stick with it!
Step Four – Resist
Once the dog is comfortably wrapping his paw around the object, try to pull the object back. This should trigger the dog’s opposite reflex, causing him to try to hold on to the broom. Start off slowly, only doing this for a second or two, then doing it for longer and longer periods.
Step Five – Remove the Object
Once your dog is holding onto the objects naturally, remove the broom or object, replacing it with something that doesn’t rest on the floor, so the dog has to hold the weight of the object.
Start with objects that are small and light since your dog will have to hold up the weight of the object. This step will take time and patience, and will work your dog’s muscles in new ways, so be patient and don’t give up!
That’s it! Your dog should be able to hold the hug position. Start incorporating the “hug” command as you get to the end of this process so your dog learns that it means the act of wrapping his paws around an object and holding it, not the act of pawing a notebook or something earlier in the process.
Once you have this done, make sure you show off your dog’s new party trick whenever you get the chance!
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