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This trick tip is brought to you by AKC GoodDog! Helpline trainer Milena Barreto. Milena and her Standard Poodle, Phoebe, are a therapy dog team and entertain many people with their large repertoire of tricks. Here, Milena tells us how to get your dog to give you a hug on cue!

Playing outside with your dog is a lot of fun; but when stuck inside, your dog can easily get bored. A great way to keep your dog entertained on a rainy day is through trick training.

Dogs naturally enjoy performing and showing off the tricks you teach them. Teaching tricks can not only intellectually stimulate your canine pal, but can also take the bond between dog and owner to an entirely new level.

There’s one trick in particular that everyone goes crazy for when Phoebe and I are making our therapy visits: Hugging. In this trick, I teach the dog to place its head and neck against my neck in a cute canine embrace!

  • To start teaching your dog to hug you, grab a treat and get down (either sitting or kneeling) to your dog’s eye level
  • Place the treat in your hand and place your hand behind your head around your neck.
  • Your pal will move towards the treat and attempt to grab it.
  • Allow them to nibble at the treat a little bit and then give it to them, with your hand and arm in the position behind your neck.
  • Try this a few times without putting a name to it. After a few times of your dog repeating the same action, you can now say “hug” or “Love me”, and give him the treat.
  • Increase the duration by giving him the treat after he holds the position for a few seconds.
  • Once your dog is consistently performing the behavior, say your cue without your hand behind your head and wait until he does it and then give him the treat. If he does not “hug” without seeing your hand cue, give him the hand signal again but for a shorter duration and continue to reduce the length of time you give the hand signal until the dog can do the trick on just a verbal signal.

Now it’s time to impress your friends by asking your dog to cuddle up close for a hug!

The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven-day-a-week telephone support system staffed by experienced dog trainers who provide advice on dog training and behavioral issues:

Get more tips and advice when you make your dog part of the AKC Canine Partners community — /dog-owners/canine-partners/