How to Teach a Dog to Skateby Simon Foden
Any dog lover with an Internet connection is likely to know about Tillman the skateboarding dog. This adventurous bulldog was a YouTube sensation, with a series of incredible videos in which he zipped along on his skateboard like a four-legged Tony Hawk. Provided your dog has no health problems or injuries that may be compounded by skateboarding, teaching him how to skateboard will provide mental stimulation and physical exercise, and improve obedience.
Create a stable platform on the floor with a box or book. Ensure that it won’t slip if nudged. The platform should be around 3 inches high, approximately the same height as a skateboard.
Encourage your dog to place his front paws on the top of the box. Place a treat on the box. As he approaches the box, move in front of him so you obstruct his approach, forcing him to partially climb onto the box to get the treat. Just as he’s about to climb up, give the “Up” command.
Praise the dog verbally and physically. If you use a clicker for training, click at this point. With sufficient repetition, he’ll learn that performing this specific action has a positive outcome.
Put the skateboard on a carpeted floor or on an old rug in the yard. The carpet slightly restricts the skateboard’s speed, making practice easier.
Put a couple of door wedges under the front wheels to act as chocks so the board doesn’t roll away. If you don't have wedges, socks, bits of wood or even an old sweater will do the trick.
Give the “Up” command and reward the dog as soon as his paws are in place. Repeat this process until the dog is comfortable with this. The skateboard will wobble on its axles, so give him time to adapt to this.
Remove the wedges and repeat the “Up” command. At this point, the weight of your dog's putting his paws on the deck will force it to move forward. This is a crucial moment. If he attempts to keep his balance or, better still, increases his speed by running with his back legs, give verbal praise. If he freaks out and jumps off, ignore him and start again. Over time he’ll learn that pushing the board along with his front paws has a positive outcome.
Put the wedges back in to stabilize the board. Repeat the “Up” command but this this time lift his hind legs onto the board. As you do this, say, “Hop on” or “Ride it” and give a reward when he’s in position. Repeat this until the dog doesn’t need physical assistance to get all four paws on the board. Now you have two commands, one to get him started and one to get him rolling.
Take the board outside and start him off with the “Up” command. Once he’s rolling, give the “Hop on” command. It may take a few goes for him to master it, but with sufficient practice he’ll get used to the movement of the board.
Items You Will Need
- Box, platform or thick book
- Treats or clicker
- Door wedges
- Stick to flat surfaces. It's unsafe to set your dog off at the top of a hill.
- Perform this activity only in a secure yard. Don't go anywhere with cars or other traffic.
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