Our trick teaching fun continues with pout. Pout means your dog places his chin on the floor and holds it there! Normally I give this command when my dog is in a down position or a play bow position. I even give this command when my dogs are balancing on doggie bosu-like exercise discs! When I did agility, sometimes I would ask my dog for this head-bob behavior at the bottom of the teeter-totter to help my dog slow down and not catapult off the see-saw!
We teach this command without luring our dog with a treat in front of his nose. Instead, we’ll have the dogs offer us the behavior or a portion of the behavior and then gradually increase our criteria until the dog does the whole behavior. Grab your treats, your clicker (or you can say “yes”) and your dog and head to the living room or somewhere “relaxing.” Also, a semi-tired dog is much more likely to just offer you a “pout.”
Wait for your dog to lie down. Do not say “down.” You may have to wait several minutes and you may want to quarantine your dog into the living room with you with baby gates so he can’t trot off to find more exciting things. When he lies down, click (or say “yes”) and deliver a treat between his front two paws. Putting the treat between his two front paws while he is still in a down position will encourage your dog to head-bob down.
Your dog is still relaxing in the down position. Now you’ll wait for something more…you’ll wait for him to drop his head down just an inch. Click the instant his chin starts to move toward the floor. Click and quickly drop the treat between those front paws. Repeat - but each time wait for your dog’s chin to be closer and closer to the floor before you click. Some dogs may just put their entire head down on the floor because it’s comfortable and relaxing and how they usually nap – that’s just fine – click and deliver the treat on the ground between the front paws!
Eventually your dog will figure out this new, fun puzzle! The puzzle is, “How do I make the treats happen? What did I do so I can make it happen again!” After your dog is repeating his “chin on the floor equals a treat between my paws” behavior every time after he is done chewing his treat, it’s time to add the verbal command “pout.” Say “pout” before your dog lowers his chin. The second the chin hits the floor, click and deliver the treat (you know where!).
Over time, wait one second, then two seconds, and then three seconds before clicking when the chin hits the floor. This will build your dog holding his “pout” position. Why do we want the dog to hold the pout position? It’s cute and it makes for great photo opportunities – especially if all the dogs in your household pout at once for the photo!
I did wait 11 minutes for my dog Cannon to offer me a full pout (chin on the floor) command when I was teaching him – I had the TV on and just waited patiently!