The army crawl is a more advanced trick that you can teach your dog once they have already mastered the down command. Before learning how to teach a dog to army crawl, you should understand what it is and how your dog can benefit from learning it.
What is the Army Crawl Dog Trick?
Army crawling is a forward movement where the dog’s body remains flat on the ground—pretty much the same way soldiers do it in the military.
Because it’s not something they would normally do, learning this trick is advantageous to your dog because it helps improve their joint flexibility and strengthen their core. Besides, constantly teaching your dog new tricks is beneficial in a number of ways.
Benefits of Teaching Your Dog New Tricks
Teaching your dog any new trick is incredibly rewarding. Here are some of the most significant ways of training for new tricks benefits you, your dog, and your relationship with each other.
It offers mental stimulation
Apart from physical stimulation, all dogs need mental exercises to be well behaved and happy. Putting their brains to work helps them release pent-up energy, which is especially important for working dogs. Additionally, it helps improve their ability to focus.
It makes your dog a better learner
Learning something new sharpens the way your dog thinks and solves problems, especially as they become more attuned to the way you teach.
Tricks challenge their mental abilities in a way that makes them better learners. Every new trick accelerates their learning response and consequently makes them smarter dogs.
It improves your relationship
When you make a habit of teaching your dog new things, you end up spending more quality time with them. More importantly, it helps you be more observant of the ways in which they learn and communicate.
So, tricks don’t just help you bond with your pup but also sharpens the skills you need to train them.
It provides excellent entertainment
Dog tricks are incredibly enjoyable and the process of learning is entertaining in itself. The tricks themselves are also fun to show off to your friends and family. Plus, giving your dog things to do when they’re around guests also helps them become more sociable.
Steps to Teach a Dog to Army Crawl
The army crawl is considered a fairly advanced trick. But it’s not actually difficult to teach, especially if you have a smart dog like a German Shepherd.
Once they already know the down command, use these steps to teach a dog to army crawl:
Step 1: Forward Lean
Start your dog in a down position and use a treat to lead their face towards the ground. Then, take the treat slightly further away from their snout to encourage a forward lean.
Treat and praise them for every movement forward. Repeat a few times until they consistently lean forward without trying to stand.
Step 2: 1-Step Crawl
Once they get the forward lean right, hold the treat further away from their snout. This encourages them not only to lean forward but also to actually take a step without getting up.
The trick is to keep the treat close to the ground and avoid moving it too far forward.
Step 3: Increase Distance
When they’ve already mastered the 1-step crawl, increase your distance to encourage two steps. Make sure you treat generously to reinforce the lesson.
As you progress, you can treat them after every other step, then every three steps, and so forth. Use your judgment to determine what your dog can handle.
Step 4: Add the Command
As you reinforce the crawling behavior, add the verbal command. Tell them to crawl right as you lure them forward.
It’s essential that you give them the command at the right time, so they have a good understanding of what exact movement to associate with the word.
Step 5: Practice
As with every other dog trick, you’ll get better results with shorter but more frequent practice sessions. Twenty minutes a day is more than enough time to perfect this trick.
Eventually, you can also practice at other places and with varied distractions.
Tips to Perfect the Army Crawl
Perfecting the army crawl dog trick is mostly about practice. Nevertheless, here are a few tips to improve your chances of success:
Choose a good surface
Select a surface they’re already used to having their belly on. A smooth, thick carpet might be an excellent choice.
Once you’ve chosen a surface, practice the trick there consistently until they’ve perfected it. Then, you can try doing it in other places and on various surfaces.
Get your timing right
The moment you reward marks what they did right. So, it’s critical that you release the treat at exactly the right time. By treating them as soon as they get the action right, they’re more likely to repeat the trick correctly.
Use a good treat
Find high value treats that will drive them to move forward despite the challenges.
Also, don’t be stingy with them as you’ll need quite a few pieces to make every practice session productive.
Here’s an excellent video that might help you out:
Teaching your dog to army crawl is definitely a cool party trick to show off. It also offers many more important benefits that don’t just improve your relationship with each other but also help them become more well-mannered and a generally happy dog.