Once you’ve established a proper relationship with your dog, it’s okay to incorporate food into your training to perk up the dog’s attitude, or to help communicate more advanced behaviors. Or simply as an additional tool to motivate your pet. To teach you dog how to crawl, first make sure that he’s REALLY HUNGRY, or food motivated.
Start by putting the dog in the down position. Next, hold a piece of food approximately two inches beyond his front paw, close to the ground. If the dog incorrectly tries to STANDS UP and puts his head towards the food, then pull the food back and correct the dog back into the down-position. If he instead stays in the down position, but lowers his head and puts his nose to the food, then reward him by letting him eat the snack. Do this a couple of times, and you’ll see the dog start to lean forward and extend his nose, while staying in the down-position. At this point, it’s very simple to get the dog to start crawling.
First, say the command “Crawl.” Then, immediately hold the food in your hand, but this time, approximately ONE foot in front of his paws. He’ll crawl forward to get the food, and you’ll reward by letting him eat it, and then giving physical praise. Again, if the dog gets up, you’ll correct him back into the down position. For dogs that are a little more dense, you may have to guide them forward with the leash. Once the dog will crawl forward ONE foot, then the next step is to make the dog crawl forward TWO, THREE, and then FOUR feet forward.
The trick is that, if the dog gets up half way through the crawl, you tell him “Down.” If he’s gotten up and walked more than a few steps, then you’ll want to bring him back to the starting point. Then, say “Crawl,” and hold the food two inches in front of the dog’s nose, and drag it on the ground, letting him follow throughout the distance you’re trying to work up to. But make sure not to try to cover too much ground, too soon. For the first session, work on getting the dog to crawl a few steps.
Then the next session, a few more. After you practice this exercise over a period of a few weeks, and in different places, the dog should be performing reliably enough– and have enough understanding of the exercise– that you can simply take him anywhere. You’ll be able to point to the ground and tell him to, “Crawl,” and he’ll do it! Make sure that as you go through the teaching process, you consistently give the command “Crawl” first, so that the dog learns to cue off the verbal command, rather than the production of food. This trick looks really cool with small dogs, but is EXCEPTIONALLY impressive with bigger dogs.