Your dog will have a problem with the concept of “play dead”. That is, the idea that your dog should act as if he has died and his body can be removed from his owner’s arms. In many cases, this is what your dog wants to do.
But in many cases, it’s not necessarily what you want your dog to do at all!
As with any other skill, you will probably need to teach your dog this behavior methodically and slowly over time. But let’s assume you already have a very good understanding of what it means for your dog to touch something and then be touched again before returning to its usual activities.
Rather than teach him “to play dead” we are going to teach him how to “shoot and play dead” by using one of the best tools he has ever encountered – people.
By using people as a learning tool, we can learn his skill faster and more effectively than we could by teaching him directly how to do it.
The key is repetition – practicing doing it lots over time until he gets the hang of it quickly. The key is patience – putting in lots of repetitions until he eventually masters it all on his own (without you).
We are going to teach our dog that when someone touches his body in any way, he should immediately return to being himself again and neither move nor react in any way other than that which he would have done had no one touched him or touched him multiple times (but only once) before being returned back into himself.
We plan on starting our training session tomorrow morning with a quick lesson about touching; then later in the day we will work on teaching him how not to touch anyone else as a reminder that touching someone else is not something that should happen; then at some point during the day we will start working on getting him used to people touching more than once and more than once alone; then later in the day we will work on getting him used to get touched without being touched; then finally later in the day, we will work on getting him used both ways when there are people touching other people without actually having been touched himself at all!
Step 1: Teach Your Dog to Shoot
- Step 1: Teach Your Dog to Shoot
- Step 2: Play Dead
- Step 3: Eat, Drink, Go Home — Or Anything Else You Want
A good way to get your dog to learn is to start with an easy one. This can be as simple as teaching it to sit in a chair and then bringing it back:
As you get more advanced with your training, you can move up the difficulty level. You can also play dead at the same time (which is what I recommend) — or you can teach it how to play dead by propping it up against a tree trunk and then letting it stand there for about a minute:
This will help it learn how hard its body is actually working. So far all we’ve done is teach our dog that we want to make things harder for him (and our balls lighter too). The next step would be teaching him how hard his body works when he’s doing something else. Once that’s easy enough, we could try playing dead too.
We could do it by making him stand by the tree trunk for about a minute and then let him step down on his own (the other strategy is to lay on the ground with your hands behind your back). If he does this successfully, he will soon be able to do it without us even asking him. Then we could start training him to play dead when he commits suicide and let him lie there until we come back in time (for lunch!).
Once he has mastered suicide playing dead, we could move on to teach him how hard his legs are working while he’s just standing there (the same kind of thing as before but this time with legs set at full extension). That’s when he could start playing again!
Step 2: Play Dead
This is a great post for getting your dog to dance for you. It’s written by one of the founders of Hipmunk and discusses the different types of selling you can do to get people to buy your products.
This post does a great job explaining why the method of teaching a dog to shoot and play dead is so successful.
You should read this entire post (from start to finish) because it really explains why it works so well and shows how you can use similar techniques in other areas of your life.
If you’re interested, here’s another great follow-up writing on the topic by Jason Kottke who goes into much more depth.
The best way to learn something is by doing it, in this case by shooting and playing dead. With regard to teaching your dog to shoot and play dead, the best source of information on the subject is the amazing book “How To Train Your Dog To Be The Best Monster At Eating Dog Food” by John Bradshaw.
This book is a fantastic record of the author’s experiences with training his German Shepherd, Brute. The one thing I learned from reading it is that training your dog to be the best monster at eating dog food has nothing to do with being very good at eating dog food.
You can learn how to be the best monster at eating dog food by merely reading this book. But the reason this book works so well is that it teaches you how to teach a dog to be better than you at being a monster at eating dog food. And that’s just what we want: we want our dogs to be better than us at eating dog food.
When you are trying to teach your dog something new, it helps if you can find an example of an animal who already knows how something works — or else know exactly what problem you’re trying to solve — and then go through a step-by-step process of teaching the animal how that thing works. The rest of this post will discuss three examples: teaching your canine pupil how to shoot; teaching him how not to shoot, and teaching him not shoot.