Tips for training bipeds

These tips are written for puppies, but I think they can be adapted for general use by any quadrupeds wishing to train a biped. I’ve based them on my own experiences of the things that have worked for me.

The first time that a biped offers you a treat in return for doing something, you may be tempted to refuse if the treat isn’t particularly interesting. I think it’s worth accepting the treat to show that you are open to negotiation, as bipeds tend to decide you don’t understand if you refuse. It’s important to get them used to the idea of giving you rewards for doing little things for them. There will be ample opportunities for negotiating a better deal once they are accustomed to the idea.

Dog biscuit

You need to be patient and spend the first few weeks showing them how clever and adaptable you are. They will probably concentrate on asking for fairly easy things from you during this time. It’s simple to trade a sit for a treat and you need them to become comfortable with this before forcing them to think harder.

You may get taken to a puppy training class, or somewhere else with lots of people and distractions. This is an excellent time to make it clear that you are not satisfied with the treats they are using. Showing no interest whatsoever in the treat they are offering works reasonably well, but if you take the treat and then spit it out it gives a little more emphasis to the point you are making. It also gives them time to think about their shortcomings while they clean it up. I have seen the cats pretend that they are going to vomit when offered something they don’t like – this is very effective, but loses its dramatic effect if you do it too often!

Bone-shaped dog biscuits, treats


You should find that the quality of the treats goes up after this and you should show your appreciation by responding to their requests, but don’t let them get too complacent! It’s wise to reject the treats again after another week or so, this will make them offer you something even better. You can keep doing this to see what variations they will provide and then you can decide on your favourite, or you can decide you like them to keep varying the treats.

Bipeds have a tendency to get fixated on one thing that they wish to do well, such as giving you a treat for a sit. You can show your boredom in a number of ways. Sometimes I have wandered off to do something else until they find something more entertaining to do, sometimes I have flopped down and refused to move. At other times I have pretended I don’t understand the request.

Dog doing a play bow

A perfect demonstration of a play bow
By JorgeAlejanDroo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It can be difficult for bipeds to understand what we want of them, so always try to end a training session on a positive note. You have to try various things to see what works on your bipeds, but you could politely request that they play with you by doing a play bow. If that doesn’t cheer them up then rolling over on your back for your tummy to be rubbed never fails!

See you next Wednesday!


  1. As I have said so many times, Clowie is such a smart dog and his humans aren’t too shabby either~

  2. Aspen will be having his formal puppy class soon. We have been practicing sit, down, sit from a down, and wait. He learns really easy on everything but don’t bite:(

  3. You must despair of the slowness of bipeds!

  4. I do like and appreciate the refusal of treats tip, C. But I am sorry to have to admit, I have NEVER refused a treat or a bite of food. I’m a slave to treats. Mom swears if she offered me a rock, I’d eat it first and ask questions later. Sadly, I think she’s right.

    Love and licks,

    • I don’t think you’re the only dog that has never managed to refuse food, Cupcake! But they do offer you even tastier treats if you can manage it. That’s how cats get such tasty food – they refuse anything that is not up to their standards.

  5. We agree a tummy rub never fails. You are so smart Clowie. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  6. Clowie I think you’re definitely got the whole human training thing DOWN!

    Hugs, Sammy

  7. What a clever dog you are, Clowie! You’ve got this biped training thing down. Thanks for the tips. Reminds me, it’s time for me to make them up the reward again. I’m getting tired of the one they’ve been offering me lately.
    ♥ Behr Behr 🙂

    • Thank you. Biped training takes lots of patience. I hope you get something really tasty when you show them you’re bored of the treats they’re giving you!

  8. I wish I could do this I am so skinny I need all the treats momwithoutpaws would give me pluse If she has something in her hand I can not stop drooling it is a sure give away.

  9. Clowie great advice for budding treat con artists hahaahaah 🙂 hugs Fozziemum xx

  10. Clowie, Millie and Oceana will start to implement these very clever ideas! They only hope it’s not to late for old bipeds to learn new tricks. Have a wonderful week.

  11. Clowie you could teach us humans a trick or two! It’s time for breakfast in Missouri and those little dog bone treats actually are looking a little tasty!

  12. Don’t forget to embarrass them as much as possible. Mity would do everything perfect when at home, but then ran around like an uncontrollable loon in training class. Nearly got the entire family kicked out for bad behaviour!!

    • That’s a very good point. It can be useful and amusing to embarrass bipeds. It sounds like Mity found that training class as dull as some I’ve been to!

      • He loved it, but he didn’t want to learn he wanted to spend the entire time playing with the young female rottweiler who spent her entire time lying on her back.They were very funny together!

        • I wanted to play and have fun at puppy class. I also spent a lot of time rolling about on my back when I was young and other dogs were about. It does look funny! I don’t know if you know, but it’s common for large breed puppies to do this to show they’re just pups and not a threat.

  13. Good one, Clowie. We especially liked the part about pretending to not understand. wag wag, Max, Bella, & Lady

  14. I suspect that our lot had advance notice of this post…they have us well under the paw…

  15. Clowie that’s not easy to show no interest for treats… specially for a guy named Easy :o)

  16. Great tips Clowie! I’ll be sure to pass them along to my huskies! haha!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  17. Cascadian Nomads

    These are the best training tips I have ever read! Thank you, Clowie!

  18. Very good tips. We have done really well with getting better treats over time.

  19. Haha, excellent advice Clowie! I firmly believe that I have been trained in this manner!… You should give classes!
    Hugs, Carrie and Pups x

  20. Appparently cats have their own social network as SamCat has been employing some of the methods you outlined your cats used. My mother-in-law’s golden retriever however, apparently got to your blog before I did. “This morning I offered him his usual treat sitting and staying. he looked at me as if I were speaking Gobbledegook and kept standing. I patted him and offered again and he rolled over for a belly rub. He is usually very good at taking treats after doing his tasks. So I said, “sit” and offered two treats. He sat. When I offered him a treat for shaking hands, he turned his head and looked sad. So I offered two. I don’t thik it will take me long to learn! For a biped, I can be pretty smart. you are a very wise girl Clowie dear and I’m sure you have some of the best trained bipeds around. Hugs and love.

  21. Clowie, These are wonderful lessons, thank you for your thoughtfullness. I look forward to the next session. Take care, Biped Bill

  22. I don’t think my terrier ever turned down a treat. But he got a nice variety of them since we would all share bits of people food with him, too. I know now how that probably wasn’t a good idea. But it made it easy to give him pills when necessary! Your help would have been invaluable back then!

    • They used to hide pills in pieces of cheese or meat when I was a puppy, but I figured that out! I started to spit the pill out of the side of my mouth. They didn’t think that was funny!

  23. Those are some clever tips, Clowie! Us bipeds need help in training too.

  24. Well that was very interesting, Clowie!! Being a cat, my biped already knows who’s boss!! MOL

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