Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-1Today we have a special treat! Jess Bell, a Toronto-based dog trick trainer, and her adorable Aussie friend, Cohen, are here to tell us all how to train a dog to balance objects on its nose. Keep reading to master this impressive trick in a simple step-by-step manner! Take it away Jess!

This trick requires a fair amount of impulse control on behalf of the dog, so mastering ‘stays’ and ‘leave-its’ prior to starting work on this trick is a good idea and highly recommended.

Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-2 The first step is getting the dog used to being handled. Get your treats ready, set the dog up so she’s comfortable in a ‘sit’ or a ‘down’ on a rug and then extend your hand to touch her muzzle. Mark with a “yes” or a click and then reward with food.

Repeat this until your dog understands that handling her muzzle means a treat is coming, and she even looks forward to it! This may take a few days or more. Go at the pace your dog sets and don’t rush it.

Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-3 The next step is introducing the object. It helps if you have a jackpot (aka super yummy!) treat visible to the dog on a coffee table so they can see it. Steady their muzzle with your hand and place the object on their nose for a split second. Mark with a “yes!” or a click, remove the object while saying “okay!” then give your dog the jackpot treat she was probably staring at the whole time.

Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-4Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-6It’s important that in the early stages you have the object on the dog’s nose for tiny, tiny increments of time because this can be HARD for your pup. Gradually ask for the dog to hold the object for longer and without your hand to support her nose.

It’s best to keep the number of repetitions low — no more than 1-3 practices at a time. If you’re having trouble, back up a step or two. The most common mistake I see people make is asking for too much too fast. Split seconds can feel like a dog’s age to your pup — so keep it brief. Short and sweet is best!

To start with you probably don’t want to ask for more than 0.25 seconds. That’s, like, really short. Then move up to 0.5 seconds, then 0.75 seconds. It will probably take you a few sessions before you can ask for her to balance something for longer than a second.

Once she knows the trick, you can ask the dog to balance something for quite a while. Use your best judgement. Normally 5-10 seconds is all you’ll need to impress your friends and snap a quick photo.

WHAT ARE SOME GOOD OBJECTS TO BALANCE?Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-5Take an object and try to balance it on the tip of your finger. If it’s easy for you, it’ll be easy for your dog. Stuffed toys or other small objects that won’t roll about are a good thing to start on.

A lot of people start with treats. Just remember that if you want your dog to balance a treat on her nose, reward with something BETTER or else your dog may opt to cut out the middleman and eat the treat at her leisure.

WHAT COMMANDS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS TRICK?  Pawsh-dog-training-how-to-balance-on-nose-7Generally this trick is just a fancy ‘stay’ command; when you say, your dog should, ideally, not move a muscle. You can also create a new cue like “hold it” if it’s easier for you and your dog to work with.

Always remember your release cue! Say “okay” to let your dog know she can move again. You don’t want her releasing herself — you want her waiting for your say-so.

Sometimes dogs find this trick unpleasant to learn. If your dog is exhibiting any stress signs, stop! Tricks are meant to be fun for both of you! If you have to stop, don’t worry. Give the trick a rest for a few weeks then come back to it.

Sometimes you need to shelve things like this and come back to it later. If your dog can’t do this now it doesn’t mean she’ll never do it. Try teaching another trick in the meantime. Remember, the goal is to have fun, fun, fun!

PAWSH PERK: Be sure to visit on Monday for our dog-friendly ‘Timbit’ recipe!

{Photography by Pawsh Studio}

{Special thanks to Jess Bell for her wonderful insights, to Cohen for being such a good model and to my fantastic photo assistant Sondra! xo}


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