Friday, May 25, 2012


The cover your eyes trick can be one of the hardest tricks to teach a dog. Some popular methods like tape on the nose, stickers on the nose and bands don’t always work for every dog. Sometimes they can even be painful (too sticky tape or noses rubbed free of hair). But once you find a method that works and stick to it, the cover your eyes trick can be one of the funnest tricks to teach. And it’s also one of the cutest! If you have watched my training tutorial then you will know the three methods I will be discussing in this trick guide. If you haven’t, then I suggest you watch it now so that you’ll know what each method looks like.

Method #1: The Nose Tickle

Step 1: Begin by gently holding your dog’s head in your left hand. Pet her head and tell her what a good girl she’s being. With your right hand gently tickle her muzzle and rub your hand over her muzzle quickly, roughing it up a bit. Do not pinch or be overly rough with her. Be gentle. This sensation will make her nose tickle and she’ll want to swipe at her face.

Step 2: Let her head go and allow her to paw at her muzzle. Have your treats and clicker ready. As soon as her paw touches her muzzle, even if it’s just for a split second, click and reward her. She isn’t going to hold her paw there at first; instead she’ll just swipe at it. Before you can tell her to hold her paw over her face she first needs to learn what you expect of her. Take things slow in this step. Moving too fast will only confuse her.

Step 3: Once your dog begins to understand that she’s being rewarded for covering her muzzle with her paw you can begin to slowly add duration. As soon as she paws at her muzzle tell her stay (or if your dog knows the command hold it, which is where they hold a certain position you ask of them, than use that word instead). Only ask her to stay in that position for a few seconds at a time. Give her tons of treats and praise when she does. This is a huge milestone in training this trick! Gradually build the amount of time she stays in this position over the course of a few weeks. Once she is beginning to hold this position for longer periods of time, than you want to slowly begin phasing out tickling her nose altogether and add the cue word, which is cover.

Tip*  This method doesn’t always work for all dogs. Some dogs simply think you’re giving them a muzzle massage and enjoy every moment of your attention. I recommend that you try this method first and if it doesn’t get your dog pawing at their muzzle then move on to the next method. It’s the simplest and easiest method to follow, so definitely try this one first.

Method #2: The Halti

This second method involves the use of a training tool called a Halti. It is also known as a gentle leader or head collar. It is commonly used for dogs who like to pull while on walks or who tend to be reactive to other animals or people. But I’ve also found that this is a great tool to use for shaping this trick. (This method is for dogs who have not worn a head collar before.)

Note*  There may be many people who have varying opinions on this method. Because this tool is used most commonly for shaping problem behaviors they will feel as though encouraging your dog to paw at the Halti will be counterproductive. I have used this method to train Kodi to cover his eyes and I continue to use it on walks. It has not caused him to want to rub at his Halti at all. The object of the Halti in regards to this trick is to teach the dog to cover their eyes. Once they learn that that is the behavior that gets rewarded and master the trick without the Halti they won’t try to paw at the tool every time you use it for behavior modification. Dogs are extremely smart. They understand the difference.

Step 1: Get your dog accustomed to the Halti by first letting him sniff at it. Be really happy about the whole experience and encourage your dog to be interested in it too. Once he’s studied the tool and as long as he shows no fear over it, then you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Take your dog’s favorite treats and lure his nose through the loop that covers his muzzle. As soon as his muzzle goes through the loop, click and treat him. Do this a few times to create a positive experience with the tool. Then go ahead and try it again, only this time snap the buckle into place behind his ears. Again, click and treat him for his good behavior.

Step 3: Now that your dog is wearing the Halti, he may feel a little upset about it and try to rub it off of his face with his paw. Now, because this is the behavior we are looking for we want to reward him for it. Click and treat him the minute his paw touches his muzzle. Repeat this a few times and then remove the Halti.

Step 4: Once your dog is beginning to understand what you want him to do, you want to begin to extend the duration. Simply encourage him to paw at the Halti and once his paw touches his muzzle ask him to stay. He may not get it at first but just be patient. He’ll start to understand eventually. Only make him hold this position for a few seconds and then click and reward him. Build up the duration over the course of the week. Once he is beginning to hold the position, then you can begin to phase out the Halti. Only start with one repetition without your dog wearing it and then build up from there.

Step 5: Now that your dog is offering the behavior without the Halti and is holding it for extended durations, you can begin to phase out the halti altogether and add your cue word which is cover. It may take a few weeks to phase out the Halti, so be please be patient.

Method #3: The Itchy Head collar

This last and final method also involves the use of a Halti. (This method is for dogs who have used the head collar before or for dogs who have slowly been introduced to it).

Step 1: Calmly and happily put the head collar on your dog. If she’s used to wearing it then she will probably sit calmly, waiting for your further instruction.

Step 2: To encourage your dog to paw at her muzzle you’re going to need a few supplies. If you’re training outdoors, a few blades of grass or soft leaves will work. If you’re training indoors, a few scraps of soft toilet tissue or Kleenex will work. Simply take the soft leaves or tissue and gently place them beneath the top band of the head collar that sits on top of her muzzle. Be very careful of her eyes. If your brand of head collar sits to far up on the nose, close to the eyes, then don’t use this method as she could accidently cause injury to her eyes while pawing at her face. And never use anything that has sharp or pointed edges. Only soft things like grass and tissue will safely work. I REPEAT DO NOT USE ANYTHING SHARP!

Step 3: Once the tissue is placed safely beneath the head collar, take your hand and gently wiggle the tissue around. This will cause your dog’s muzzle to tickle and she’ll try to paw at it. Be extremely encouraging! As soon as her paw touches her muzzle click and treat.

Step 4: Once your dog starts to understand that she is being rewarded for pawing at her muzzle you can increase the duration she holds it there. Simply tell her to stay once her paw touches her muzzle. Reward her after a few seconds and slowly build the duration up over the course of a week. At this point you also want to slowly begin phasing out the head collar. Start with only one repetition without the head collar and then slowly build up from there.

Step 5: Once your dog begins to cover her eyes and hold it there for longer periods without the head collar, then you want to begin phasing it out altogether. It may take a little while to be able to phase out the head collar completely so it’s important to be patient. Take this process slowly. If you phase it out too quickly your dog may not understand what you want of her anymore. Now that your dog has the hang of this trick you can add the cue word cover.

I hope this training guide has helped you and informed you of three unique ways to teach the cover your eyes trick to your dog. If at any point your dog begins to get overwhelmed then please go back a step or two and work from there. This trick can take a while for your dog to learn and it can also take a while to phase out the head collar altogether. Please be patient and go slowly. Once mastered I promise this will be one of you and your dog’s favorite new tricks! If you have any questions then please feel free to leave a comment. And remember, If You’re Going To Bark, Than Bark Like You Mean It!

It isn’t about the end result, it’s about the fun journey you take and memories you make while training.


It’s great that you have so much free time a day to train Bella! Since she loves to train and enjoys working with you so much I’m going to recommend that you keep training her three times a day, for ten minute intervals at a time. Since she’s a little nervous when she’s outside of the house I would suggest training her indoors only for the first two weeks and if she begins to get the hang of it and would like to train outside than go ahead and train outdoors in week three. I find it’s a lot easier to train tricks indoors when you first start to train a new trick anyways because there are fewer distractions. Follow whichever of the three methods I have shown you or a combination of them all, whichever ones work best for beautiful Bella. I have planned things out for three weeks, however if she learns at a faster pace (which I have a feeling she does, she seems very smart!) then feel free to progress to the next weeks plan and intensify her training.

Week 1: One ten minute interval, three times a day. Do between six to ten repetitions of the trick during the training session. If you’re using the nose tickle method, then continue to tickle her nose each time over the whole week. If you’re using the halti method or the itchy head collar method than leave the halti on during each training session for the whole week (If you choose to use the itchy head collar method, small scraps of Kleenex or toilet paper work great as an alternative to grass and leaves.). Use her favorite treats (several different kinds if you have them to mix things up), lots of praise and games of tug since she enjoys playing. Mix your rewards up also. Five treats one time, one treat and a game of tug the next, eight treats and a hug, etc. Another great reward would be letting her do one of her favorite activities. For example, for her last repetition after she covers her eyes you could click, squeal in absolute delight, and take off running around the house encouraging her to play with you! (If you don’t approve of letting her get hyper in the house that’s fine too. You could save this special reward for until you move your training outdoors J).

Week 2: One ten minute interval, three times a day. Do between six to ten repetitions of the trick during each training session, as you did in week one. If you’re using the nose tickle method, then begin to ask her to do it sometimes without tickling her nose. If you’re using the halti or itchy head collar method, than begin by asking her to cover her eyes a few times while wearing the halti. Then remove it and ask her to do it while it’s off. You may have to tickle her muzzle to remind her what you’d like her to do. Continue to mix up your rewards and use lots of treats and praise as explained in week one. You should be beginning to see progress by this point. Be sure to celebrate each small step of accomplishment! Your dog is incredible! (I know celebrating will be an easy thing for you two. It’s obvious you guys have a very strong bond J).

Week 3: One ten minute training interval, three times a day. Once again, do between six to ten trick repetitions during each training session. If Bella has made a lot of progress and is feeling up to it, than you can move her training outdoors. I’d start with one training session outside to begin with and work up over the course of the final week until she’ll happily perform her new trick both indoors and outdoors. At this point you should begin to phase out the nose tickle and halti completely. Move slowly, don’t suddenly stop using them altogether, and make it a gradual transition. And if you do have to go back and use them as a reminder that’s okay too. Now that you’re beginning to train outside you can use more play rewards. Games of fetch, tossing the treats for her to find and short, happy walks are all great ideas. Even a large bowl of water with ice cubes in it or chasing the water from a hose can be fun, unique rewards. Feel free to be creative! Working for life rewards in addition to treats and toys will make her perform tricks happily in situations where you may not always have treats handy. She’ll have more confidence to train and perform in situations that may otherwise make her nervous too (my boy Kodi is also a little shy, but trick training has definitely made him a lot more confident and content).

Hopefully, these methods and plans will work for you two. I know that each dog is an individual though and that no one knows your dog better than you. If you have to take things slower or if your dog is super smart and needs to move at a faster pace to stay content then that’s fine too. Please keep us up to date on your training progress. We’d love to see your videos! And if you need any extra help or if these methods don’t work for you and Bella let us know. We can brainstorm ideas to find something that will work J. And remember, If You’re Going To Bark, Than Bark Like You Mean It!

Monday, May 21, 2012


I have wanted to be a professional dog trainer ever since I was ten years old and realized while watching an episode of Petsburgh U.S.A. (my absolute favorite show when I was a kid. I didn’t watch the cartoon channels, I watched animal planet!) that there were people who made training into a career. I was shocked and also ecstatic. From that moment on I knew that training dogs was what I wanted to do with my life. So that’s why I have decided to jumpstart my career! I have officially started online dog training classes. Yay! I’m so excited!!! I offer classes in agility, tricks, and obedience training. All classes are free of charge, the only thing I ask in return is for you to subscribe to my youtube channel, follow me on this blog, and like Kodiak Bear’s page on facebook. And recommend Bark Like You Mean It Dog Training to other people too.

In return I will post training tutorials to my youtube channel, and also post step-by-step guides and customized training plans to my blog for you to follow. You will then post videos to your own youtube channel documenting your progress and I will watch them and help with any problems you may be having. It’s that easy!!!

In addition I will have four gadgets on the side of my blog (please look to your left ;). One for agility, one for tricks, one for obedience, and one for graduates. When you sign up for a class your name and your dogs name will be listed in the appropriate class you are taking, along with a link to your youtube channel. Once you have successfully taught the new behavior to your dog, your names will be moved to the graduates box. And once a month I will draw a random winners name from the graduates box and make them a personalized background for their youtube channel, blog, or facebook page. The more behaviors you successfully teach, the more chances you will have to win!

All behaviors are taught using positive reinforcement and are easy to follow. Because I customize a training plan to your specific goals your dog will learn at a much faster and happier pace because all details will be tailored to your dog’s individuality.

I admit I am NOT  a professional, certified dog trainer. I am simply a nineteen year old girl who is obsessed with dogs and has big dreams. I have been training dogs ever since I was eight years old and have over eleven years of experience. All of my training is taught using positive reinforcement and a mixture of treats, toys, games, and praise as rewards, along with life rewards tailored to each individual dog. I have trained all of our family’s dog’s over the years and currently my four year old Australian shepherd Sir Kodiak Bear knows well over one hundred tricks and obedience commands. Please give me the chance to help train your dog and help me make my dreams come true. I promise you won’t regret it ;).

For all of the details and if you would like to find out how to sign up for my dog training classes please visit my site at:

And check out the official Bark Like You Mean It Dog Training video below:


And feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you guys!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


For our second training session I started out by having Kodi lie on his blanket and handing him the corner of it. He already knows the commands take it and hold it so this step was quite easy as well. I told him in my cheerfully, encouraging voice ‘Kodi, take it!’ while handing him the corner of the blanket. Once he took it in his mouth I told him to hold it. After just a few seconds I praised him and rewarded him for his great job with some treats and hugs. He was so proud of himself that you could see the bright twinkle in his brown eyes. There is nothing Kodi loves more than pleasing me. And I can’t thank him enough for how incredibly special that makes me feel.
I was feeling so happy that Kodi picked up on the trick so quickly that I decided to take things a step further. After asking him to grab and hold the blanket I asked him to rollover. I expected him to spit the blanket out of his mouth before he rolled over but to my surprise he held the blanket in his mouth and rolled over, perfectly executing the trick! My sister and I were in complete shock! Meanwhile Kodi stood up, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth and his pearly whites gleaming for the whole world to see. He began trotting around us with the blanket still draped across his back, as we cheered and praised him for his wonderful accomplishment. With the blanket like that he kind of looked like a doggy superman. We ended the training session on that wonderful, spectacular note.

For his third training session I videoed it. I continued on having him grab the blanket and hold it. He did a marvelous job and only got distracted once when our neighbors dogs began barking. Kodi ran to the edge of the fence to see what all the fuss was about. Once he was certain they weren’t in our yard and were still safely in theirs he trotted over to me and nudged my hand with his nose asking if we could continue to train. We once again did another repetition of him holding the blanket. He did fantastic so I thought I would try and attempt to see if we could have a repeat performance of his second training session. I once again asked him to rollover while holding his blanket in his mouth and… he dropped it before he rolled over. All I could do was laugh and smile at his grinning face. He was so certain he did what I had asked. And in a way he did. I know I was pushing him to soon and pressing my luck by asking him to perform it flawlessly once again before he truly even knew what I was asking of him.

I think that’s what I love most about dogs. They remind you to have patience and enjoy every little moment, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. Every little moment is something to be celebrated and Sir Kodiak reminds me of that every day. We are taking things slow with this trick now and I have promised him that I won’t push him to do the next step of the trick before he’s ready. After all, these are two difficult tricks I have chosen for him to learn in just four short weeks. If he doesn’t quite learn them before then that’s more than fine. It’s about the journey, NOT the end result. We’re just going to enjoy every little moment along the way.

Check out a vid of our third training session:


So for the first training session I started out by just getting Kodi used to going to his blanket and lying down. He already knows how to hit a specific mark and I have trained him to take commands and work from a distance, so this was quite easy for him. He was so happy to be learning something new and to be working with me that you could see the smiling doggy grin plastered across his face. We had a lot of fun and made a video of our first training session. Please check out our vid by clicking on the link below:


For the four week pet trick challenge I am going to be training my dog Sir Kodiak Bear (Kodi). He is a four year old Australian shepherd who is so intelligent that oftentimes he trains himself (or me!). He loves to train so much so that he usually would rather train than play a game of tug or fetch. My mom and sister both say they’ve never seen a dog with such an eagerness to learn and train before. He is something special that’s for sure! The two tricks I have chosen to train him are on the more difficult side, night night and fetch me a drink from the fridge. The first one we are going to be working on is night night. I’m not sure what the proper name for this trick is called, but it’s where the dog lies on a blanket and rolls himself up in it. I’ve chosen to call it night night and have chosen to use that as my cue word. (If someone knows what the proper name for this trick is then please let me know. Thank you! J)
A few weeks ago I lost my clicker and have not for the life of me been able to find it anywhere! And I haven’t been able to find a new one at the store either. So for right now, though hopefully not for the whole trick challenge, we are going to be training without one. It bums me out a little bit because it does help Kodi learn so much faster but he’s a happy student and I know he’ll train just fine without it. It’s just going to take him a teensy bit longer! J


I was so excited when I first found out about the pet trick challenge. I love training my dog and the idea of having a fun goal to work towards and knowing other people are working towards similar goals made it that much more appealing. I love having the opportunity to watch videos of other dogs and their people training, to read about their training debacles and triumphs, and being able to ask other trainers for advice. And having the chance to share videos, blog posts, and tips of my own just adds to the fun. I can’t wait to see where this awesome challenge will take us!

            And please don’t forget to follow these other amazing blogs as they share their stories on their pet trick journey too.

Dawn Miklich

Anna Bryant

My Favorite Pup Jasmine:

Melissa J. Viera "Dog Trick Project"
Christine Childress Brando and Bogart