Gettin’ Tricky: Teaching Shy

Boy and I both enjoy the “shy” trick. He feels that he is meant for the big screens and, you know, he has a large enough personality for me to agree with him.


Place a small piece of rolled tape on the top of your dog’s snout.

Cue your dog to lie down so he will have to use his paw to remove the tape rather than shake off or rub it off.

As soon as he take his paw to brush off the tape you will mark the behavior with a word (like “good”) or a clicker. (For this particular trick I personally prefer the clicker because micro behaviors are better captured.) You will mark any sort of paw movement; no matter how small. Take the tape off after each click.

When it looks like how you want it to look start adding the verbal cue, this will allow for the word association of the behavior (you will still continue using tape).

Then you will start generalizing the positions like having your dog in a sit (you will still continue using tape).

During the last step you will stop using the tape. You will start by acting as if you put the tape on his nose even though you didn’t and wait for him to move his paw to cover his face. As soon as he does, mark it and say your verbal cue. My verbal cue for Boy is, “Are you shy?” 

Phase out the non-verbal cue of touching the nose by simply pointing to the dog’s nose and eventually fading out the point. You will still mark your dog for covering his face. Once he is consistently responding to the verbal cue 80% of the time, start fading the clicker (or verbal marker).

Happy Training! Let Boy and I know how it goes!






2 thoughts on “Gettin’ Tricky: Teaching Shy

  1. Stamm, Michele M says:


    I hope your dream is coming to reality.

    I have a question. I am trying to get Athena to sit before I throw her toy. I say “sit”, but she doesn’t get it. Then she walks away and ends playing session. At one point she decided to bark to get me to throw. I put the toy behind my back and she proceeded to play with Thor. I could not get her to engage with the toy. What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks for your help.

    Michele Stamm



    • michellehuntting says:

      Hello Michele! So great to hear from you!! Please call me sometime soon! It sounds to me like Athena has an over-attachment to Thor. I would do small sessions a day separating them. When you do you can give them something fun to do like a puzzle toy or stuffed Kong with Through a Dog’s Ear playing. I would also suggest working on increasing her time to focus by doing specific exercises– typically very short and heavily reinforced sessions — like 20-30 seconds with 10 treats, for example. During that session you will choose one behavior like “Watch me.” As soon as she looks at you mark it with the word “good” and then reinforce with 10 treats and end session. Again, please feel free to call me. My Zen Dog online class starts on Monday and it sounds like maybe that would be a good thing for Athena, specifically. ❤ -Michelle Huntting


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