Teaching your dog to crawl is an essential part of training if you intend to do dog agility courses, even if you’re only participating casually. Since puppies have enough development to go straight to walking, most dogs don’t crawl naturally. They have to be taught to do it.
If you’re looking to get a head start in agility training or just want to teach your puppy a new trick, here are some methods to get your puppy in an army crawl.
The 7 Simple Steps to Teach a Dog to Crawl
1. Teach Your Dog to Sit
Teaching your dog to sit is the first step in getting your dog to crawl. Not only does this basic obedience command help your dog find their sea legs, but it flows nicely into the tricks needed to get your dog into an army crawl.
Start by holding a treat in your palm. Let your dog sniff your hand, then raise the pointer over its head to force him to look up. This will naturally bring your dog into the sitting position. Say “sit” and give the treat when your dog’s haunches hit the ground.
2. Move Your Dog from a “Sit” to a “Down” Position
Once your dog has mastered sitting on command, have your dog sit, then allow him to sniff the treat in your hand. Move your fist down to the floor at your dog’s feet. It should naturally follow your hand and lay down.
When your dog hits the ground, say “Down” and treat your dog. Repeat this until your dog readily and consistently follows the command to lay down. You can add a hand gesture for your dog to follow to help it build a connection to the order.
3. Leave Your Dog in a Laying Down Position
Once your dog can sit and lay down on command, you can move forward to the next step: getting your dog to stay in the correct position. Start by getting your dog into the down position on a rug, bed, or another comfy area. You’ll be able to change the location once your dog has mastered the trick. However, starting the training in a comfortable place will encourage your dog to stay in place.
Step away from your dog and say, “stay”. Step back towards your dog quickly and treat it if it hasn’t moved.
4. Add Time and Distance to the Stay Position
When your dog has started staying put, move further and further away while keeping your dog in a laying position. You want to eventually reach the point where you can leave the room briefly, and your dog will stay lying down while you’re gone.
This is important for getting your dog to crawl and teaching your dog good behavior. This will be an essential tool for ensuring your dog is polite when interacting with other people and animals.
5. Have Your Dog Lay Down and Stay
Once you have your dog reliably sitting and staying on command, you’ll be able to get your dog to crawl. You’ll need to make sure they know how to remain reliably since they’ll need to be able to stay in a laying position to learn to crawl.
The first step is to have your dog lay down. Tell it to “stay” and treat your dog for good behavior. While you may not need to treat your dog if it is already laying down and staying on command without the treats, giving it a pleasure will motivate it and let it know that it’s time to learn new things.
6. Lure Your Dog Forward
Put a treat in your fist and your fist low to the ground and just out of reach so your dog can reach and touch your fist with its nose. This will lure your dog to move forward without standing up. If your dog inches forward, treat it and give it lots of praise, so it knows it’s doing a good job!
Make sure you add a command once your dog reliably moves forward on its belly. This will allow your dog to learn to do this behavior without a lure, something that will be necessary if you intend to bring your dog into the agility ring.
7. Add Distance
Start luring your dog forward further and further, encouraging them to stay low to the ground while they do. Your dog will soon pick up the appropriate behavior and command, and you may be able to get them to crawl forward underneath a yardstick or other barrier. Once your dog is readily crawling beneath a barrier, you’re ready to try your hand in an agility ring.
Practice Makes Perfect
You’ll need to practice with your dog to reinforce training and keep their mind sharp. Don’t get discouraged if your dog isn’t picking up the movement as fast as you’d hoped. This behavior is unnatural for dogs. So, keep practicing.
Keep Training Sessions Short
This is typically recommended for all training, especially with commands that require unnatural behavior from your dog. Crawling is strenuous on your dog’s body. So, if you keep the sessions short, your dog won’t become too overworked.
Teaching your dog to crawl is a fun way to keep their mind engaged and get them some extra exercise. It’s also an essential trick aspiring agility trainers must master with their dogs. But more than that, it’s just a lot of fun! Your dog will enjoy being able to crawl around on their belly, and they get to spend time with you too!