The “Between” has recently become one of my favorite things to teach. For this trick, the dog moves themselves between your legs while you stand. Then they stay there until given a release like “okay,” or until you move
yourself out of the position. I’ll usually call it “between” or “middle,” but you can also give it a fun name like “peek-a-boo!” It’s super cute, easy to teach, and has some great practical uses. Take a quick peek at this trick in the video:
So, what are the practical uses for this trick?
Letting Others Pass By
Other than as a trick, this is the main reason I teach “between.” Whether you're on a neighborhood walk, browsing a store, or on a hike, there will be times that you have to let someone else pass by you. If your dog is excited, nervous, or reactive towards others, asking your dog to move between your legs gets them out of the way and secure. In these situations distance is usually your friend, but sometimes it’s not possible to just move further away. In this position you have a good amount of physical control, and it is a clear signal to others that your dog won’t be interacting. If, for some reason, they still try to approach or reach for your dog, you are in a good place to keep hold of your dog and ask the person to stop.
When my own dog was much more reactive towards dogs, I would often have her do a “between,” turn her to face away from the trigger, then hold onto her harness with one hand and feed treats with the other. This helped
prevent a lot of reactive episodes, which in turn helped her progress quicker. We would do this on the sides of tight hiking trails and up people’s driveways when I couldn’t cross the street in time to avoid another dog. Now I can ask her to go “between” and not have to worry about the other added measures, because she has practiced it a ton and feels secure there.
If you don’t want to use your formal recall cue in a specific situation, or if your dog has a history of ignoring their recall and you need something new, you can use “between”! It gives your dog a clear place to be when they get to you rather than running past you or darting away again, plus you have easy access to their harness or collar to grab ahold of them if needed. It also looks super flashy and impressive if you care about that sort of thing.
I recommend rewarding your dog heavily for the “between” if you’re using it as anything other than for a trick. This is especially true if you ever want to use it as an alternative recall cue. If you want it to work in an important or stressful situation, you need to have a long history of good rewards for that behavior. So practice often and keep it fun!
This is also a great trick for posed photos. It helps keep them in one spot and facing the correct way. It also looks really cute! You can even teach them other poses from this position like sit pretty (depending on their size), bow, and wave.
A few things to keep in mind before you try this out are your dog’s size (this may not work as well for tiny or giant breeds) and their comfort level with physical handling. Dogs who are more nervous or sensitive may not like being in this position, at least not at first. So you may need to spend more time upfront teaching it and making them comfortable before trying to use it out in the real world.
To teach this trick, you’ll start by luring. Have a couple treats ready in your hand and lure them between your legs. Some dogs will do it right away, and others will be more cautious. If your dog is on the more cautious side, reward their efforts, even if they won’t go all the way, and try dropping the treats on the ground between your feet. You may need to stand with your feet further apart at the beginning. Once your dog is directly between your legs, give several treats back to back to encourage them to stay there. Then say “okay!” or whatever you use as a release word, and step yourself out of the position. This will teach them to go into position and stay there rather than running through your legs. As your dog gets better, you can add more time in between treats, and eventually just give one. However, you may still want to reward repeatedly if triggers are passing by or if your dog just did a really great recall!
I hope you try this out! And if your dog already knows this as a trick, try using it out in the real world!