How To Teach A Dog To Bow

dog with tongue out

Hi human! Do you like it when we perform tricks? We dogs are very good learners and very clever, so we can learn almost any trick you can think of!

We also love impressing other humans by performing tricks (especially because we get treats for them!)

I’ve been learning lots of new ones recently, and my human just taught me to bow! I think it’s just in case I ever meet someone really really important. 

I’ve learned it really fast because I’m the best at tricks, so just in case you want to teach your dog how to do it, I thought I could tell you how! 

When we take a bow, we’re basically leaning down with our elbows and chest touching the floor, while our entire rear end stays upright.

So that’s what you’re aiming to get your dog to do! For the training, you will need your dog (duh), and lots and lots of treats! (Seriously, try teaching us without treats, it won’t work.) 

To make it easier for you (and because I know that humans like organized information), I’ll tell you how to do it step by step! 

1. Pick the right environment!

Okay, so we dogs can get a tiny little bit distracted sometimes, especially if we’re young. But that’s because there are so many exciting things to do!

But here’s the thing, if you don’t have our full attention and focus, then we’re going to struggle with learning anything at all. 

It really helps to do the training somewhere calm where there aren’t any distractions. So basically, don’t try and teach us a trick when we’re at the park or when there are lots of people around us.

Do it when it’s just you and us! Set us up for success, and we will succeed! 

2. Starting point:

To begin teaching us the trick, we first need to know how to stand and be still on command. So you might have to teach us that one first!

But we will usually know to stand in front of you and wait for the next signal, and that is where the trick starts! 

3. Lowering down:

Okay, so the first thing is to get us to lie down. Not completely, just the front of our body! To make us bow, hold a treat out in front of our nose. (You will definitely have our attention then!)

Then lower the treat down, slowly, towards the floor. We should follow it with our nose, therefore lowering the front of our body until our elbows and chest touch the floor!

Keep holding and moving the treat in front of us until we’ve reached the exact position that you want our bow to be in. 

4. Back to standing!

Once we’re in the right bowing position, hold the treat there for a few seconds. Then raise it back up until we’re standing again. This will complete the entire bow action!

Because we not only have to bow down, we have to then stand up again too! 

5. Praise and treats! 

Once we’re standing again, give us the treat! (And more if you want, just give us lots and lots of treats!)

Make sure to praise us and tell us what a good dog we are too! This way we know that following the treat down into that bowing position and then coming back up again is a good thing. 

6. Repeat again and again and again…

The thing with teaching us tricks is that it takes a lot of patience. You just have to be consistent! It takes us a few tries before we start to understand what you want from us, so repetition is key! 

Perform the bowing exercise, with us following the treat, over and over again! 

7. Add the command word!

Once you think we’ve gotten the hang of bowing for the treat, try adding the voice command. That way we will begin to associate the word with the action.

Most humans choose to say ‘BOW’ or ‘BOW DOWN’ or something similar. Make sure it’s short and snappy! 

To add the word in, you just have to say it at the start of each try. So you say BOW, and then you perform the whole bowing exercise with us! 

8. Repeat it again and again and again…

Yup, more repetition. This is how we learn okay? It’s like writing it in our brain over and over until it can’t be erased!

That way we don’t forget! 

9. Lots of treats!!

After many many repetitions, we should be able to bow right after the voice command, without having to follow a treat!

However, make sure to always reward us after each bow! Lots of treats, and especially lots of praise and love! 

And that’s it! That’s how you can teach your dog to bow, like a super polite and respectful dog. I’ve already learned it and my human says I’m the best! 

What is the best age to teach a dog?

There are lots of things you can do to make tricks easier to learn for your dog. But something that really helps is knowing the best age for us to learn as many tricks as possible! (Although we can keep learning tricks forever, no matter the age, thanks to how clever we are!)

The best age for you to teach your dog is when we’re young. Just like human pups, we absorb a lot of information from a very young age, and it’s a lot easier to correct any mistakes! We can start learning the basic commands, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, from really young. As young as 7 weeks old, as a matter of fact! 

Some humans say that formal training should wait until we’re at least 6 months old, but that isn’t entirely true. The thing is, we’re learning from the moment we’re with you in your home! We’re constantly learning and adapting our behavior to make you happy and be the best dog possible! 

The most important thing to remember is to use positive reinforcement when teaching us things. Punishment doesn’t work and just makes us sad for no reason.

Offer us treats to help us understand what you want, and we’ll learn super fast!