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Dancing with your Dog – Steps to Success!

Dancing with Dogs

The Grand Finale

We're excited to present our Grand Finale dance. Combine all the steps below to create your own impressive dance routine!

Dancing With Dogs

Week 1: the Fox Terrier Trot

Week 2: the Chow Chow Chow

Week 3: the Quickstep in the Park

Week 4: the Rumbark

Week 5: the American 'Snoot'

Week 6: the Viennese 'Walkies'

Week 7: the 'Salsation'

Week 8: the 'Tan-Go-Fetch'

Week 9: the 'Jack Russell Jump and Jive'

Week 10: the 'King Charleston'

Week 11: the 'Pawso Doble'

Whatever dance you’re doing, here are our ‘steps to success’!

1. Preparation makes perfect!

It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distraction, interruption or temptation - and when you and your dog are both happy and relaxed! You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful! You’ll need rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy! You’ll need lots to begin with, so small tasty treats are a good idea. A treat pouch that can clip to your waistband might be useful too! If you’re worried about your dog’s weight, or they’re on a special diet, just use a portion of their daily ration.

2. Using a lure

Luring means using your dog’s reward – the tasty treat - to guide them into the right position. This means they’ll get it right from the start and doesn’t involve any pushing or pulling which might hurt and/or make them worried about you! You’ll be using their treat to encourage them to move exactly where you want them to so training is totally ‘hands-free’!

3. Making sure your dog knows they’re getting it right!

You can say a ‘magic’ word like “wow” (or use a clicker) at exactly the time when your dog is doing what you want, and this tells them that their reward is coming right away! So, make sure your timing is spot on – saying “wow” as soon as they’re doing exactly what you want and always making sure that you give them their treat straight afterwards. As they get the hang of it, they should understand that whatever they were doing when they heard the magic word - “wow” - resulted in them getting a treat, so they’ll do it again!

4. Luring them into position

Don’t worry about telling your dog to “go around” or “circle” or “foxtrot” at this early stage of training – they’ll have no idea what it means! Practice until they’re getting the hang of it and then you can give the move a name if you want to! Keep quiet and just say your magic word – “wow” – when your dog is getting it right!

5. Dogs learn by repeating things – so ‘keep dancing!’… and give the move a name!

If they’re struggling just have a break and come back to it – learning is not always as easy for them as we might think! If we take things gently and go at their pace they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned. Remember to say “wow” when they’re doing the move right, and always follow this with their treat!

Repeat the move until your dog is getting the hang of it and once they understand what to do, you can introduce an instruction – such as the name of the dance for example! Just make sure you always say the same word every time you do this exact movement, otherwise you’ll confuse your dog! It’s a good idea to keep a record of which words go with which movement, so neither of you become confused!

6. Once you’ve practiced a lot, try without a lure! 

Try again, moving your body and hands exactly as before but without a treat in your hand/s. Your dog should still follow your hand because they’ve done this so many times now and know it is worth it! Remember to still say “wow” when they’re doing the move right, and always follow this with their treat! If your dog struggles without the treat at the start to encourage them, just go back to using the treat for a little longer before trying again.

7. Film yourselves and share on social media!

Don’t forget to tag @DogsTrust on social media and use the #DancingWithDogs so we can see your gorgeous dogs, your awesome moves and just how well you’re doing!

Top Training Tips

  • Practice WITHOUT YOUR DOG FIRST!! It might sound silly, but it means that you will have a good opportunity to make sure you’re comfortable with the movements yourself – you’re learning too after all! – and you know exactly what you’re going to do before you try with your dog. Once you’re ready, your dog will really appreciate you giving them clear signals as to what to do so they shouldn’t become confused, frustrated or worried. This is a great way to make sure they get it right and gain confidence in what they’re doing.
  • Make sure your dog is always having fun while training. If they appear to be worried at any point, or choose to potter off and do something else then they might be tired, they might have done too much in one go and need a break, or they might not be quite as interested in the treats on offer so you might need to try a different or tastier type of treat during your next training session. Let them have a break if they’re showing that they need it.
  • Take it slowly when teaching them so they’re happy all the while! Teaching your dog in small steps will help them to always get it right and giving them a break in between stages will mean they can come back to it afresh!
  • Make sure your vet is happy about the treats you’re using and what you’re doing, especially if your dog has limited mobility, is on a special diet or a weight-loss plan. If you’re worried about over-feeding you can use some of your dog’s normal daily food for the training, so they aren’t getting anything extra. Take extra care with older or stiffer dogs by practicing on non-slip surfaces, taking it extra slowly, having more breaks and adapting moves to make it easier if you need to. The key is keeping it fun