How to Teach Your Dog to Do "Peek a Boo"

by Adrienne Farricelli Google
    With this trick Rover will be the star of the day.

    With this trick Rover will be the star of the day.

    Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    If you like to impress your friends and family, you must add the "peekaboo" command to your dog's repertoire of tricks. When you say "peekaboo," Rover should cover his eyes with his paws as if he were ashamed of himself. This trick can also be used as a cover up in case your dog fails to perform a trick he knows well or does some other "immoral act." You can then say: "Rover! You should be ashamed of yourself!" That “guilty” expression will have your guests laughing.

    Training Peekaboo Through Capturing

    Step 1

    Keep your clicker and treats handy and watch your dog during the day. Some dogs are more predisposed than others to paw their nose and eyes when they groom themselves. You see this happen often when your dog tries to clean his eyes or has an itchy nose. The moment you see your dog perform this behavior, immediately click and give a treat. The training method of rewarding spontaneous behaviors as they unfold is known as "capturing." This training method takes some time and patience.

    Training Peekaboo Through Capturing

    Step 2

    Continue watching your dog during the following days and click and treat the moment you see the desired behavior. After capturing the behavior several times, your dog will soon realize that when he touches his nose with his paws covering his eyes, great things happen. This is the power of positive reinforcement training. The addition of the treats is reinforcing the behavior, and consequently, Rover will do it more often.

    Training Peekaboo Through Capturing

    Step 3

    Name the behavior. Once you notice your dog is repeating the behavior more often, it's time to give it a name. Say "peekaboo" a split second before he is about to practice the behavior. Click and treat as usual and repeat several times. Next, try saying "peekaboo" before he gives any signs of getting ready to perform the behavior. If he does cover his eyes on command, then make sure you click immediately and give him a handful of small treats all at once. Rover will feel as if he won the lottery.

    Training Peekaboo Through Prompting

    Step 1

    Cut out a small piece of masking tape and stick it to your dog's nose. The moment your dog raises his paw and touches his nose to remove the tape, click and immediately treat. This training method is known as "prompting." Basically you are relying on an aid, in this case the masking tape, to help your dog perform a certain behavior. This method is much faster than capturing the behavior from zero and can be helpful for dogs who do not paw at their eyes or nose frequently or in case you want to train the behavior faster.

    Training Peekaboo Through Prompting

    Step 2

    Repeat several times, clicking and treating every time your dog paws at his nose to remove the tape. The more your dog practices the behavior, the faster he will realize that the behavior of pawing at the nose and covering his eyes is what you want. Since you are rewarding your dog by adding treats, your dog will be more likely to paw at his nose the moment he feels the tape. At this point, you can start adding the cue "peekaboo" right after your dog feels the tape on his nose. Remember to continue clicking and giving treats. Repeat several times.

    Training Peekaboo Through Prompting

    Step 3

    Stop placing the masking tape on your dog's nose, but continue saying "peakaboo." If your dog covers his eyes with his paws, click and immediately deliver a handful of several small treats. Your dog will think he won the jackpot. Repeat several times so your dog learns to rely on your verbal command and no longer needs the masking tape prompt. After some time, you can also fade the clicker and replace it with "good boy," followed by the treat. Once the behavior is fluent, you can just say "good boy" alone and give the treats every once in a while instead of every time.

    Items You Will Need

    • High-value treats
    • Clicker
    • Masking tape

    Tips

    • If your dog just sits there ignoring the tape, touch it to make him aware of it or stick it in a different place, suggests dog trainer Kyra Sundance.
    • Should your dog shake his head rather than paw his nose, ask your dog to lie down for this trick. With his head on the ground it'll be harder to shake his head.
    • Did you know dogs just as humans can be right-pawed or left-pawed? Watch your dog and see which paw he uses the most and make things easier for him by sticking the tape on that same side.
    • You don't have to necessarily use the cue "peekaboo" for this trick. Some dog owners like to use "shame on you" or "bad boy" for a more dramatic effect.

    Warnings

    • Toss the masking tape away to prevent your dog from ingesting it.
    • Don't train when you are tired, impatient or getting frustrated.
    • Don't make the training session too long or your dog will get tired and lose motivation.

    Photo Credits

    • Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Adrienne Farricelli has been a writer since 2005, serving as an editor, steward and writer for several online publications. She brings expertise in canine topics, previously working with the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification as a dog trainer from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Farricelli offers reward-based training and behavior consults at Rover's Ranch Home Boarding and Training.

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