He’s been doing it for well over a year now — both on command, and on his own (when he’s trying to be especially cute or get our attention). He knows this game of peek-a-boo goes a long way with us.
We actually call it "being shy" but you would probably impress your friends better if you called it playing "peek-a-boo" or something cute.
Here’s how we taught our dog to play peek-a-boo on command…
It was extremely simple actually…
First, Give It A Name
When our dog was stretching out and relaxing around the house, we started to notice that he frequently pawed at his ears or eyes — as if to rub his own ears or get the gunk out of his eyes in the morning.
Anyway, any time we’d catch him doing this behavior on his own, we started to say, "Are you being shy?!"… "Are you a shy dog?!"…
Of course, at first he didn’t have a clue what we were talking about. But in order for this trick to work, we had to be consistent and keep calling attention to "shy" or "peek-a-boo" every single time we saw him doing this (pawing his eyes, nose, or ears with his front foot).
How To Get Your Dog To Be "Shy" On Command
After about a week or so of that — just giving the behavior that he was already doing on his own a name — then we tried to get him to do it on command.
This, too, was easier than I initially suspected it would be.
With a few of our dog’s favorite treats hand, we broke it down into 2 steps:
Step #1: Get your dog to lie down on his side (so one paw remains flexibile and can reach his eyes).
Step #2: Get your dog to a) put his paw over his eyes; and b) keep it there until you say "okay" and reward with a treat.
This took a bit longer. There were a couple of weeks of mediocre results, until that day it just "clicked" with him. He realized what we were after and how he got the treat only when he delivered the behavior on command. From this point on, he would be "shy" so much just to get our attention or make us laugh (or get a treat), that we stopped giving the treats so much, and now only give them every few times rather than every single time.
For us, breaking the behavior into the 2 steps above really helped to shorter the learning curve for him… it became more of a "process," and he eventually learned what we were after.
For Step #2 above, after he had the "lie on your side and stay there" down… we began to add his paw into the equation.
Keep in mind, throughout this time — even when we weren’t in these training sessions — we were still using the name for this behavior that he does on his own a lot ("shy") any time he put his paw anywhere near his eyes, nose, or ears. And he always got a treat for it — when he did it on his own.
By 2 weeks, he had it down, and "being shy" immediately became one of his most favorite tricks to do.
It’s quite an attention-getter when friends are visiting! A dog in such a vulnerable position and being so cute really scores big points — both, with your dog and your friends.