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Prerequisite: Your dog should already know the TOUCH and DOWN commands. What this trick looks like:

The dog’s body hugs the ground while moving forward in an army crawl fashion. (“Sparrow” the Pit Bull mix is shown here with a big smile on her face.)

This is very easy to teach when you use something like a long dowel or target stick, because it saves you from having to bend over during training.

To begin, tell your dog to lay DOWN. Stand close by and hold the tip of the dowel near the ground in front of him. Use your TOUCH command. Click and reward him each time he touches the tip of the dowel with his nose. Gradually, start making him stretch a bit further (while maintaining a DOWN position) in order to touch it. Continue to click and reward good performances.

At some point, you will position the dowel just a little too far from the dog’s nose, and he’ll have to creep forward an inch or so to be able to make contact. Click and reward those performances when the dog moves forward without standing or putting his rump up in the air.

Gradually make the dog creep forward more and more. As your dog starts catching on to the CRAWL behavior, fade away the use of the TOUCH command. As you continue training, focus on clicking improved crawling, with less emphasis on him actually making contact with the dowel. Through continued practice, the dog will learn it is the crawling behavior you are rewarding, not the TOUCH.

When he can easily crawl one or two feet forward, add a new command. Gradually you can hold the dowel further in front of him, just using it as a kind of focal point (rather than something the dog needs to touch). With practice, he will learn to crawl on command and you can gradually fade away the use of the dowel.

Work on this trick with the following goals in mind.

  • Your dog learns to crawl forward at least six to ten feet.
  • He can perform when you are a distance away from him.
  • He understands to do the behavior even if he is not in a DOWN position when he hears the command.
  • You can even select for speedier crawling!

Please be aware that crawling behavior may be difficult for some dogs to do, either because of their conformation or a physical problem. Choose another trick to teach if this will pose a problem for your dog.


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