‘Bow’ is one of the most adorable tricks a collie can learn. It’s a great trick for such a majestic breed, but learning new tricks is much more useful than just looking great. Training your collie to learn new tricks like ‘bow’ is a great way of keeping your collie’s brain active and stimulated, which is a major requirement for such an intelligent breed.
The best way to train your collie to bow is by using a high-value edible treat. Hold the treat in front of their nose while they are standing up, before slowly lowering the treat down to the floor. Keep it close to their body to maneuver them down until their elbows are on the floor with their bottom half remaining up.
Collies are some of the smartest breeds in the world and can learn new tricks at any age. ‘Bow’ is a fairly simple trick to learn and shouldn’t take more than a few training sessions, however, collies do have limited attention spans and it’s important to know when they have had enough.
In this article, we’re going to go over some step-by-step instructions for teaching your collie to bow, as well as learning some tips and tricks to help your training go smoothly. Learning tricks is mentally stimulating for your collie and they love the attention. Learning to bow will brighten up your collie’s day, you won’t regret it!
1: Start With Them Standing Up
Ideally, you will start learning the bow trick with your dog standing up on all fours. It would be helpful if they already know the ‘stand’ command, so you can use this to get them back in position each time.
Wait until your collie is in the standing position before you start learning ‘bow’. Urge your collie to return to the standing position after each bow attempt, but don’t physically force them to stand, since this can be scary for collies. Wait for them to return to the standing before starting again so that they understand how ‘bow’ works and don’t get confused.
2: Use Treats to Teach them to Lower their head
Collies are easier to train when you have a reward they really want.
Try a few different treats to find the one they love the most and to prevent them from getting bored of your offerings.
Find a high-value treat that your collie really loves, and wave it in front of them to get them interested in it. Once your collie is following the treat with their nose, slowly lower the treat to the ground to get them into a bowing position.
Treats can also be used to lure your collie back into a standing position once they have performed their bow!
3: Use Verbal and Visual Signals to Reinforce the Bow Command
Just like humans, collies learn best when all their senses are engaged.
Once your collie has mastered following a treat down to the ground, it’s time to teach them the command. Use the verbal command ‘bow’ along with a hand motion roughly similar to the motion your hand makes when you’re lowering the treat. You collie will soon associate the command and hand motion with the bow action even when there is no treat for them to follow.
A common hand command for ‘bow’ is pointing or holding your palm upwards and moving your hand down towards the ground. This is a useful teaching tool, and with their high levels of intelligence, collies will pick them up quickly.
Hand signals are also a great way to teach tricks to a collie who is deaf or hard of hearing.
4: Reward Your Collie for Making Progress
Your collie doesn’t have the benefit of understanding English, so they don’t have any understanding of the concept of ‘bow’ other than what you teach them.
It’s unlikely that your collie will fully understand what you’re trying to get them to do straight away, so it’s important to reward them every time they make any progress towards the end goal of a full bow.
Break the trick into different steps like so:
- Move their head towards the ground, following the treat
- Put their front knees on the ground
- Hold the ‘bow’ position for a few seconds
- Bow without treats
Every time your collie makes small progress, positive reinforcement with treats and attention will help them understand that they are doing it right and reinforce any progress.
5: Keep Your Commands Consistent
When training your Collie you need to be consistent and patient at all times.
Always use the same commands and hand signals when teaching your dog a new trick or command, since changing the commands can cause your collie to become confused. Keeping your verbal commands and hand signals consistent will help your collie internalize the command quickly.
You can introduce your hand signals and voice commands during the first training session but just keep in mind that it may take a few sessions until your collie puts two and two together and connects the commands to the bowing action.
6: Keep Training Sessions Short and Enjoyable for your Collie
Collies are extremely smart, but they can sometimes have a short attention span if they get frustrated.
Keep training sessions short (about 15 minutes is good) and always end on a positive note by giving your collie an easy task to do, which you should reward with treats and positive attention.
If you or your collie are getting frustrated, it’s a sign that it’s time to end the training session and do something more fun or relaxing instead. Remember that your collie is a living creature and they get bored and frustrated just the same as we do.
Never shout at your collie or try to physically force them into the desired position, since this can be scary and upsetting for them and will make them hate training with you.