Trick #48 - Teach Your Dog To Turn A Lightswitch On and Off

Posted by on July, 2007

Teach Your Dog To Turn A Lightswitch On and Off

Difficulty: Hard
Prerequisite: None
Items Needed: Clicker, Treats, Touch-stick or Laser Pointer

This trick assumes that your dog is tall enough to reach a light switch when he jumps up to the wall. If you have a smaller dog, you can still do the trick, but will need a table or other platform for your dog to stand on while jumping up to reach the switch. I used a laser pointer to attract my dog to the lightswitch, but if you don't have a laser pointer, that's okay, the touch stick will work just as well. If you do use a laser pointer, make sure that it is a low wattage model, and keep it away from your dog's eyes. There are two parts to this trick: teaching your dog to turn on a light, and then teaching him to turn it off again.

The First Part: Turn On A Light

Step 1: Using either a laser pointer or touch stick, get your dog in the habit of jumping up to touch the light switch. It is best to have him jump up with his pads on the wall (instead of his claws) touching the switch with his nose. I used a laser pointer here, because I would play with it as a game, knowing that he would really go after it—even if it's on a wall.
Step 2: Using the clicker, begin clicking only when his nose pushes the light into the 'on' position. He will begin to realize the effect of his action, and expect a treat after Begin to only click when your dog begins and ends the trick by successfully turning the light on. He needs to understand that the trick is not two parts (jumping up on the wall, and hitting the switch) but one.

The Second Part: Turn It Off

Step 1: The first step is very similar to step one of teaching him to turn 'on' the light. Get your dog used to jumping up on the wall, but instead of his pads touching the wall, click when his paw hits the light switch.
Step 2: Begin clicking only when he successfully turns 'off' the light switch. Dogs will notice the change in light in the room, and will usually look expectantly when he successfully turns out the lights.
Step 3: Begin clicking only when your dog successfully completes the trick from beginning to end. He needs to learn that in order to be treated, he has to perform the trick in one sitting.


When I taught this trick, I used a laser pointer to get Caspian to jump up on the wall. Caspian loves to chase the laser around, and will drop everything to try to catch it. He now will even go after reflections and glints of light off of lamps, glasses, and other shiny objects. Because he gets excited like this, I thought it would be a good way to get him to do something that he wouldn't normally do.


My dog keeps tearing up my wall!
To turn off the light, dogs are unable to do this with their nose, and must use their paw. Because of this, it is incredibly easy to receive scratch marks and torn wallpaper. If you use this trick a lot, you might want to consider installing clear plexi-glass around your light switch.

Tip: "Laser pointers are often a great way to motivate and excite your dog. It can also act as a reward."

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