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Pomeranian holding a paint brush with paints.

Have you seen the TikTok dog painting challenge where pups use their tongues to paint? Tongue painting with your dog is a fun way to spend some time with them. Plus, the finished paintings make the perfect personalized gifts for your dog’s favorite people, such as trainers, groomers, vets, friends, and family.

Tongue Painting with Your Dog

This painting activity doesn’t require any training so it’s something that can be done with dogs and puppies of all ages. Tongue painting would even make the perfect activity for breed club meetings, or puppy playgroup/kindergarten graduations.

To get started painting, you’ll need:

– Non-toxic acrylic paint in 3–4 colors

– Gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag

– A small canvas, which you can find at any craft store or big-box retailer, often on clearance

A soft, spreadable treat like peanut butter or spray cheese (make sure it is dog-safe!)

@tofu_corgiShe’s so proud of her painting. 🥺 #puppypainting #dogpainting #dogpaintingchallenge #corgi #dogchallenge♬ Wale – Lotus Flower Bomb (feat. Miguel) – royce🌴

Here’s how to get your pup painting:

Step 1: Put dollops of different colors of paint onto the canvas.

Step 2: Being careful not to spill or spread the paint, put the small canvas into the large zip-top bag and seal it.

Step 3: Take peanut butter, spray cheese, or another spreadable treat and put it on the outside of the closed bag,

Step 4: Hold the bag out to your dog, or put the bag with the canvas inside on the ground and let your dog begin to lick off all the treat. As your dog is licking, the paint underneath is getting creatively distributed around on the canvas, leaving a unique swirled pattern.

Step 5: When your dog has licked off all the treat, you can open the bag, remove the canvas, and put it in an out-of-the-way place to dry.

@turn_the_paigeee_#dogsoftiktok #cockerspaniel♬ Send Me on My Way – Guy Meets Girl

Teaching Your Dog To Draw/Paint

If you’re looking to take your dog’s artistic skills to the next level, you can actually teach them to draw. For this trick/skill, your dog will learn to hold a marker or paintbrush and then draw directly onto paper.

You’ll need:

– Non-toxic markers or paint

– Toilet paper or paper towel tube

– Paper or canvas that you want your dog to draw on (blank cards also work really well if you want to send your dog’s art to someone as a gift)

Creating a Handle

To help dogs get a better grip on the brush/marker, it’s helpful to create a handle. You can do this in a variety of ways with wooden dowels or with small PVC pipes, but the fastest and cheapest option is to use an empty cardboard toilet paper/paper towel tube.

Use a pencil to push a hole in one side of the cardboard tube. Then, put the back end of the marker or the handle of the paintbrush into the hole, leaving the brush or the marker end sticking out. This creates a “T” shape with a handle for your dog to hold, and also allows you to easily switch out different colors of markers without having to create multiple handles.

Teach Hold

Before your dog can start drawing/painting beautiful pictures, they need to learn how to hold the paintbrush on cue. You can use a clicker or a verbal marker word like “yes” or “good,” paired with a treat, to cue to your dog that they have done what you are looking for.

Step 1: Hold the marker/paintbrush towards your dog with the cardboard handle closest to them. When your dog sniffs or otherwise investigates the handle, praise and treat. The goal is to reward any interest in the handle.

Step 2: When your dog is constantly nosing at the paintbrush, we want to increase the criteria. This time, instead of praising/treating when your dog just sniffs the handle, wait until they put their mouth onto the handle and then do it.

Step 3: When your dog is consistently putting their mouth on the handle, you can start to incorporate a verbal cue of your choice like “take,” “grab,” or “hold.” When your dog puts their mouth on the handle, use your verbal cue and then praise and treat.

Step 4: Now it’s time to start adding duration so your dog is holding the paintbrush/marker handle for longer. To start to do this, use your verbal cue asking your dog to hold the paintbrush/marker and then wait just a fraction of a second before praising/treating. Over multiple training sessions, very slowly increase the amount of time your dog is holding the handle before giving them praise and treats.

@nelliebeandaxieThe next Pawcasso! 🎨 ##puppypainting ##dogpainting ##dogpaintingchallenge ##dachshund ##dogchallenge ##results♬ Wale – Lotus Flower Bomb (feat. Miguel) – royce🌴

Teach Touch

Next, you need to teach your dog to touch the page on cue. If your dog already knows a hand target or touch cue, you can use that with the paper/canvas in your hand. If your dog doesn’t already know “touch,” here’s how to teach it:

Step 1: Hold a piece of paper out to your dog and when they sniff the paper, praise and treat.

Step 2: Repeat several times, rewarding your dog for interest in/sniffing at the paper.

Step 3: As your dog becomes more confident, start waiting to reward when they push against the paper instead of just when sniffing lightly.

Step 4: At this point, you can introduce a verbal cue of your choice, such as “touch,” “boop,” or “bump,” etc.

Ready to Draw

Now that your dog knows how to hold the marker and touch the page on cue, they’re ready to start drawing/painting.

Step 1: Present your dog with the handle with the marker and ask them to hold it. Praise and treat

Step 2: Practice asking your dog to nose the target paper or canvas that you are holding and praise/treat when their nose touches the page. Using a clipboard, or holding the paper against a notebook or binder, can help to give structure to the paper as your dog pushes against it when drawing/painting.

Step 3: Ask your dog to hold the handle of the marker/paintbrush again and then cue them to target the paper. The moment the paintbrush/marker touches the page praise and treat. The paintbrush/marker will have left a mark on the page—your dog just learned to draw!

Step 4: Repeat asking your dog to hold and target the paintbrush/marker to the page, and remember to keep treating each time your dog draws on the page. To help them draw on the whole page, you can rotate the paper as they draw/paint. Or you can point to specific places on the page to make sure your dog is getting paint/marker on all areas of the page.

Step 5: When you are happy with the amount of ink/paint on the page, the drawing is done and ready to hang on the fridge, frame, or gift.

Related article: How to Teach Your Dog to Talk Using Buttons
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