The best way to teach your Shiba tricks is to practise little and often. Take one trick and practise it with her several times a day if you can. Don’t move on to a different trick until she has mastered the first.
Keep each session very short because your dog will be become tired, especially in the beginning while she is trying to figure out what is going on. Be sure to always reward her when she does what you wanted. At first, you can give her a treat that you know she likes. Later when she knows the trick well, it is still important to praise her every time – even years from now.
This is a simple trick to teach. Have the dog sit in front of you, reach out your hand and then take her paw. If you have noticed that she is more likely to raise one paw than the other, pick that one. At the same time, give the command which could be ‘Shake’.
After a few practices she should start to put her paw into your hand when you reach out and say ‘Shake’. Reward her when she does this, then end the session and repeat a few hours later.
Some dogs cannot do this trick because they need both front paws on the ground for balance. If your dog is very unwilling to let you pick up her paw, you may have to forget it and move on to something else.
Again this is a very easy trick and a dog will often do it automatically. Choose a treat that is big enough to see, but not so big that the dog could choke on it. You want something they could swallow whole without a problem.
Let the dog see the treat or sniff it, then throw it in the air and say ‘Catch!’ The aim is for her to catch it before it hits the ground. When she does this, praise her. It may take a little time before she first does it.
With this trick, try to end the session with a ‘failure’ – that is, end it when she has let one fall on the floor. Otherwise she will learn that you throw her treats until she catches one, then you stop – so catching them is bad.
Stand And Beg
This is easier for smaller dogs, and unsafe with very large ones who may do some damage to themselves, you or your home if they lose their balance!
Have your Shiba sit in front of you. Let her see the treat then hold it above her head at a height where she will have to stand up on her hind legs to reach it. At the same time give the command, e.g. ‘Beg’. You can hold her front paws at first to support her.
Make her continue a little longer each time before she gets the treat. That way her balance will improve and soon she will not need your support. Never tease her by taking the treat away.
Generally, younger dogs will learn more quickly. As the saying goes, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’! But a young puppy may injure herself in frantic attempts to get her reward, so don’t push too hard when you start to teach your Shiba Inu tricks.