Thursday, February 17, 2011

Skateboarding! It's Really Only a Trick!

This trick has been sitting on the shelf for about a month,
patiently waiting it's turn!

Here it is Carol!

You’ll need a dog, a clicker, some treats, a towel, and a skateboard.

Mine came from a co-worker’s son.

He no longer used it, the size was perfect!!
So ask around, you might just fine a FREE one!

It’s also helpful if your dog will do the previous trick,
“four feet in a box”. 

One thing I’d like you to notice in the video is how much food reinforcement I’m using.  Be sure you’re giving enough reinforcement so the dog keeps trying!  If you wait too long between reinforcements, your dog will get confused, and you won’t progress as fast.  This is true with ALL your training! 

To begin, place the skateboard on a plush carpet or a towel.  Your goal here is that the skateboard is stable, but can’t roll, or move in any way.  It’s probably easiest if you sit on the floor at first, so you can steady the skateboard (sb) between your knees.  You’d prefer that it not go shooting off and scare the dog, or break something expensive.  (Insert - Not responsible for damages disclaimer here.) 

Your dog will more than likely sniff the sb to see what it is, (click/treat) c/t. Placement of reward is on the sb.  At first we’ll reward for simply getting close to the sb.  Then for putting one foot on, two feet on, etc.  This is where your ‘4 feet in a box’ trick really pays off!  Do NOT get greedy here, it’s better to reward for small improvements, than to rush to get 4 feet on quickly! 

Once the dog is consistently offering to get on the sb, remove some of the towel bulk.  If you were on carpet, move to a less dense carpet.  This will allow the sb to wiggle a bit.  Proceed as above, c/t often.  Placement of your reward will still be on the sb, with your goal being that dog facing the front of the board, vs. the side. 

Now flatten the towel even more, or if you have carpet that will allow the sb to move a little, that is fine.  Again, please be careful that breakable items are not around, as the sb can shoot out backwards when you least expect it. 

Depending on how your dog progresses, along with your own physical limitations, you can stand up when needed.  You could also sit on a chair and hold the sb between your feet,
just be sure it doesn’t flip up and hit you. 

Your placement of reward is going to come off the board a bit now, to encourage the dog’s head to be at a more level carriage.  Mix it up, sometimes the treat is on the sb, sometimes it comes from you.  You’re aim will be for the dog to have 3 – 4 feet on the board, it may start to move a bit at this point.  You should click and treat the movement, especially if that 4th foot is pushing off. 

You might also choice to build some confidence with the dog pushing with just he’s two front feet on the sb.  This is going to be up to you and what’s best for your dog.

Once he’s confident at above, you’re ready to move to a smooth surface. Again, make sure you’re away from breakables, and obviously traffic.  A training building (without mirrors!!) might be good, or an empty parking lot.  If you move to a new area, this can impact your dog’s confidence level and add distraction, so please don’t rush here.  You’ll still be c/ting often! 

Work through the steps above and I’m sure you’ll be skateboarding in no time!!! 

Seeker actually prefers to tug for his reward outside, than treats, so don’t feel like you can play tug.  It’s easier to train the beginning with food, simply because you can get it more quickly and won’t wear your dog out as fast. 

This is great way for dogs to get use to movement. 
A wonderful ‘pre-teeter’ work exercise!

It’s just plain fun!


  1. Love it!

    The many warnings to watch out for breakables makes me wonder what you broke ;-)

  2. How fun. But, shouldn't he be wearing a helmet and knee/elbow pads?

  3. Oh, that could open a whole new arena of accessorizing...

  4. OMG! I am LOVING training this!! I thought that I might need to get one of those long boards (and still may just because) for my dogs to do this, but they're totally catching on and it's a hoot!

  5. So timely, as I just bought a skateboard for my aussie pup. It took about 30 seconds before she was ready to throw herself on a moving board. She's totally unfazed by the movement and is happy to jump on and roll. Any suggestions on how to get her to push with a back leg while on the board? Occasionally it happens and I click, but I'm rewarding so much else at this point I don't think she notices.

  6. Thanks for the good advice. I went back and watched the video again and realized I needed to be rewarding on the board, which is helping a lot.