You’ve probably seen the Mannequin challenge videos all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: people or animals freeze in place, usually while the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd plays in the background.
Our favorites are the videos people are making with their dogs. They seem nearly impossible to pull off – these talented dogs barely blink or move their tails as they pose in unnatural positions, washing dishes and loading laundry.
“My dog could never do that!” most commenters exclaim. But it’s not as difficult as it seems. You can train your dog to freeze in just one day, and upload your video to YouTube before the trend blows over.
Animals Are Natural Mannequins
At first, it may seem difficult to teach your dog to freeze. It’s one thing to teach your dog to do something. It’s another entirely to teach your dog to do nothing.
However, freezing is a natural behavior seen in both prey animals like rabbits and hamsters, and predatory animals like cats and dogs. Prey animals freeze to avoid being seen, and predators freeze to sneak up on their prey.
You may notice your dog freeze just before they pounce on a toy or run after a squirrel. It’s easy to capture this freezing action with some creative training techniques.
How To Teach Your Dog To Freeze For The Mannequin Challenge
By teaching your dog two commands: “Freeze” and “Ok Go!” you’ll help your dog understand what you’re trying to get them to do.
You’ll basically play a game of Red Light, Green Light with your dog. You might remember this game from kindergarten. Teachers use this type of game to teach kids to be still and quiet. At the time, it probably seemed like a fun game – it was really a way for adults to teach self-control and calmness to their bouncy students.
Start with your dog on a leash, or standing next to you indoors. Run around as your dog chases you. Then, stop suddenly and say, “Freeze!” Put your hands out like a crossing guard to teach your dog an unmistakable visual cue. Freeze in place, facing your dog. Your dog will likely freeze too. When they do, praise and reward them. Start with a very short “freeze,” then gradually encourage your dog to freeze for longer periods of time, from 1, to 3, to 5, to 10 to 30 seconds. If your dog moves when they’re supposed to be still, do not reprimand them – just withhold the reward and try again for a shorter, easier period of time.
How To Film Your Doggy Mannequin Challenge
You can use your smartphone camera’s video function to record your video. You might find it easier to record a few clips of your dog freezing in different positions. You can use a video editor app to put the clips together into one video.
For more challenging scenes, it can help to use a slow-motion setting to create a longer clip and make any movements less obvious.
You could play music on your speakers while you film, but this won’t result in a video with good sound quality. You’ll probably still be able to hear your dog’s heavy breathing as they anticipate a treat. It’s better to edit in the music later.
Download the song on iTunes. Black Beatles is track 5 on the StremmLife 2 album from the band Rae Sremmurd.
There are phone apps that you can use for video editing. You might find it easier to edit videos on your computer using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
How To Move The Camera Without Making Your Dog Move
To film the Mannequin challenge, you need to be able to move your camera or phone. Most dogs will follow the camera with their eyes, ruining the effect.
It helps to have a friend help you make your video. One person can hold the dog’s focus off-camera by holding a treat or toy, or doing the “freeze” signal, while the other films.
Don’t move the camera too quickly. You can practice before filming by teaching your dog to stay still even as the camera moves. Start with slow movements, and give rapidly give your dog treats as they stay focused for very short periods of time. First, work on duration. When your dog can hold a freeze for 30 seconds, start moving the camera slowly, then increase difficulty by moving the camera faster.
If Your Dog Is Failing To Freeze
Some dogs are better at this than others. You might want to take your dog for a walk first to get rid of excess energy.
If your dog is having trouble with the concept, don’t get frustrated. Instead, try waiting until your dog falls asleep. It still counts if the dog is sleeping!
Keep your expectations reasonable. The dogs in many of the mannequin challenge videos have already trained for months to stay still with treats on their noses, or to pose perfectly for pictures. You’ll need to give your dog an easy pose and reward them lavishly when they do their best.
Don’t punish your dog for moving. They won’t understand why they’re being punished, and they’ll learn to dread training sessions. No viral video trend is more important than your relationship with your dog.
Get Your Video Noticed
Be sure to use the #Mannequinchallenge hashtag when you upload your video. Feel free to share it a few times over the next few weeks so people who miss your post the first time will get a chance to enjoy it. Tag @ilovepets so we can see what you come up with!
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