Want to teach your pup a new trick that’s adorable and sure to melt hearts? Then teach them “hug”! If your pup already knows how to “sit pretty” (with their front paws off the ground) will likely learn a full two-handed hug, while one who can do a regular “sit” will probably learn a one-handed hug, though that can vary depending on your pup’s balance and preference. Here are the steps!
1. Get a pup to raise one paw – preferably their dominant one – and touch your hand. The easiest way to do this will be by shaping or capturing it. You can name the first part to this trick something to make it easier for your pup, like “paw”.
2. Once your pup is able to easily paw your hand, introduce objects for them to paw, like a toy or book. When they become comfortable with this, then you can progress to bigger things like an umbrella or broom handle – hold onto the tops so they don’t move too much, and keep your pup’s size in mind when choosing objects. Don’t forget to reward your pup every time they get it right!
3. After your pup is used to touching all sorts of objects, help them out by gently pushing the object towards them so that they wrap their paw around it. Reward your pup each time it happens, and remember to be patient and take breaks if you need to, as this step may take some time.
4. Once your pup is good at wrapping their paw around objects, then gently start to try and pull the object away from her. This is meant to try and engage your pup’s natural opposition reflex to grab the item harder so you don’t pull it away. At first, simply do it for a second before steadying it and rewarding your pup, then gradually increase the times.
5. After your pup easily hugs the longer item, start removing it and replacing it with other objects that don’t touch the floor – or in other words, one that your pup will have to hold the weight of. Do this by wrapping them around the initial object, letting your pup get used to hugging them before removing the item that it was wrapped around. Start with very small and light things!
6. The goal is to get your pup to use both paws to hold the item off of the ground – or one, if your pup is more comfortable with that. Once your pup can do that easily, you can add on some other features to the trick. You can attach the cue “hug” to the action to make it a command, or teach a pup to catch and hug a light object or soft toy.
Have fun teaching this trick to your pup, and remember to reward regularly and take breaks whenever your pup seems tired. Don’t force them to learn quickly – take your time and theirs for best results. Like and share away!