Trick Training: Teaching Peek-a-Boo

Liz Palika
Peek a boo is a great trick to teach your dog.Geri S. teaches peek-a-boo to her Corgi, Sydney. (Photo by Melissa Duffy)

Trick training is a special kind of training. Not only is it still training – after all, you’re still teaching your dog – but it’s also great fun. You can giggle as you teach your dog, laugh with him when he makes mistakes, and cheer him on when he does it right. It’s all fun and that’s what dog training should be.

When teaching tricks have some special treats to use as both a lure and a reward. Vary the treats to keep your dog’s enthusiasm high. Then keep training sessions short; especially in the beginning.

Teaching Steps for Peek-a-Boo

The goal of this trick is to teach your dog to move from in front of you, around your right leg, and then turn to come forward between your legs from the back. He should stop moving forward when his head peeks between your legs leaving the rest of him behind you.

To start teaching this:

  • Have some good treats in both hands and your dog standing or sitting in front of you.
  • Let your dog sniff the treats in your hand and then begin leading your dog to your right side.
  • With the treat at his nose, encourage him with your voice, “Good!” to curve around your right leg so that he’s moving behind you.
  • Bending over, reach between your legs – from front to back – with your left hand and catch your dog’s attention with the treat.
  • Using the treat in your left hand, bring your dog forward between your legs, stopping him once his head is in front of your legs.
  • Pop the treat in his mouth as you tell him, “(Your dog's name), Peek-a-boo!”

Practice three or four times and then take a break. Later, practice it again three or four times. Do not keep repeating it over and over; your dog will get bored and you’ll be frustrated. Short happy training sessions are much better.

Once Your Dog Understands

When your dog has Peek-a-Boo figured out, start increasing the verbal cue, “(Your dog's name), peek-a-boo!” Start saying the verbal cue as you begin the hand signal to your right rather than waiting until he peeks his head between your legs.

At the same time, start decreasing the hand signals. Make a smaller circle to the right and less of a hand motion between your legs. If, when you decrease the signals, your dog slows down or stops moving altogether, go back to the full hand motions again; he may not understand as well as you thought.

You goal is to say the name of the trick and decrease the signal to a small wave with your right hand towards your right side. However, it may take some practice to get your dog to that point. Be patient.

Use This Trick

As with most tricks, peek-a-boo can be used to break up obedience training sessions. If you or your dog is getting stuck on an obedience exercise, a few tricks can help both you and your dog relax. You can laugh, cheer your dog on as he zips around you and peeks his head to the front. Tricks are fun. But then as you go back to your obedience training, keep that fun attitude as you train.

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