6 Simple Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Don’t underestimate the great benefits there are teaching your dog a few simple tricks. The time spent teaching your dog these tricks will be enjoyable for you and him (throughout this post we will refer to your dog as male). Simple commands such as down and stay are basic dog training exercises, however dog tricks are a great way to offer mental stimulation for your dog and many of them are derived from those simple commands. Plus, they’re also a bit of fun and look great!
Items required: Clicker, Treats
- Constantly say the command ‘Come’ and treat him, whenever he is around.
- Give the command from across the room.
- Every time your dog comes, click, treat and pet his head before looping your hand under his collar.
- Try calling him from another room.
- Call him when he is doing something else.
This is a useful and very important trick to teach your dog. If your dog is reluctant to come to you when he’s called, he isn’t really that safe off the lead. If you can trust your dog to come to you, it makes the time spent on walks (in the outside world) more enjoyable. You aren’t worried if your dog is going to run off and potentially come to harm crossing a road etc. Out of all the tricks to teach your dog, this one will build the most trust in your relationship with him and trust is crucial.
First, walk up to him and give the command that you will use e.g. ‘Come’ or ‘Here Dougal’, then treat him. Repeat this multiple times throughout the day and vary your treats and give plenty of praise. Once you have done this for a sufficient amount of time, walk across the room and give the command again. When he comes to you, give him a big treat and lots of petting. If he doesn’t come to you, go back to the previous step and spend some more time on it. Now start to develop this trick. Every time he comes, click, and then pet and loop your hand under his collar before giving him a treat. Your dog needs to get used to being handled when he comes to you. He may pull away otherwise if he feels he is being cornered. Once he has got the hang of repeatedly coming to you from across the room, try calling him from a different room, or even better, when he is engaged in another activity and vary the reward each time between praise and treats.
Items required: Clicker, Treats
- Stand with your clicker and treats in front of him
- Wait until he sits. When he does, click and treat
- Repeat this exercise several times
- Once he starts to get it, say ‘sit’ as soon as he sits. Click and Treat
- Repeat several times
- When he sits consistently after you command, click and give him a fab treat. Return to Step 4 if he isn’t quite getting it.
The first part of the training session is a bit of fun for your dog. It’s a puzzle. Stand with your clicker and treats in front your dog. He has to work out what to do to get the treat. He may do other command movements, but unless he sits, stand in front and don’t react. As soon as he sits down, press your clicker and feed him a treat. Make sure your treats are tasty enough to get him motivated for more.
Your dog may start to get frustrated and agitated if he can’t figure out why he gets/doesn’t get the treat. In this instance, be patient with him if he starts barking. Just ignore his plea and wait. With enough practice, eventually a switch in his head will flick on, ’when I sit, I get a treat’. Once he starts consistently sitting, introduce the word ‘sit’ when using your clicker. This will reinforce the command. Make sure you treat well and click whenever he sits. Once you finish, give him a good cuddle for a job well done. Clicker training is much more effective if you and your dog take regular breaks because his concentration may start to waver.
Difficulty: moderate (evolution of the stay command)
Items required: Clicker, Treats
- Once you have mastered the ‘stay’ command you are able to do this trick.
- Give the ‘stay’ command and take a few steps back then turn to face him.
- Now, give the command ‘back up’ before moving towards him.
- Keep going forward and lean forward slightly.
- As soon as the dog takes a step back, give him a treat.
- Most dogs will learn to back up quickly.
Once your dog is stood in front of you (‘stay’), turn around and walk two or three paces away from him before spinning round to face him again. Then command in a loud and clear tone ‘back up’. Now start to walk towards your dog. Many dogs at this point will immediately start to move backward. If so, you should click and treat him. If the dog stays still during your first few steps, lean forward slightly and continue to walk forward. Your lean makes you look like you are walking over him slightly which should cause him to want to move backwards. Whenever he moves backward, say ‘good’ or click and give him a treat. This drill should only need to be repeated a few times. Your dog should start to pick up the command fairly easily. This trick can be very useful when walking through doors with your dog but also in the outside world as a means of controlling your dog in busy areas.
Some dogs may get up and walk away instead of moving backwards when you try this drill. If this is a common occurrence, relocate your dog training into your hall way, or a narrow area. The spaces’ shape allows your dog to go anywhere but backwards and should make it much easier for him to learn the trick. This is a bit of fun for your dog and can be useful in a range of situations, especially in public areas.
Items required: Clicker, Treats
- This is a progression from paw shaking.
- Give the command ‘shake’.
- Move your hand up so he has to move his paw up higher to reach it.
- When his paw goes higher than it would be normally, click , treat and give him praise.
- Repeat this action several times, each time increasing the height of your hand until his paw has to go above his head.
- Once your dog has got the hang of raising his paw higher than usual, give the command ‘shake’ and as soon as his paw leaves the ground, give the command ‘wave’ and then repeat several times following similar steps as 2-4.
- After a number of repetitions, start using only the ‘wave’ command
- Now make it harder for your dog and only give him treats when his paw is raised above his head, or moving up and down (a wave)
This trick is only possible once you have taught your dog how to shake his paw with you. Many dogs use their paws to get attention. Keep some treats and your clicker handy at all times. When he raises his paw in day to day life, you may be able to capture this movement using your clicker. Whenever he raises his paw, click and treat. Make sure you do this consistently every time. If he is used to clicker training, your dog will soon start to figure out what behaviour will get him a treat. Once he has established what he needs to do, start incorporating the command ‘wave’ whenever he raises his paw. Once he is consistently waving on command, only click and treat for the action that looks most like a wave. All he needs now is practice.
Try to work over this command several times a day for short periods of time to insure that he is concentrating during the training sessions.
Items required: Clicker, Treats (spreadable e.g. peanut butter, cream cheese)
- Put a blob of peanut butter on your cheek
- Give the command ‘kiss’ or something of that nature
- Now lean in towards your dog and he will lick the treat off your cheek
- If you repeat this practise over and over several times a day, it won’t be long until your dog will lick your cheek, ‘give you a kiss’, every time you give the command.
This is a great trick for children to learn. You can also try to capture the dog’s behaviour. Whenever the dog licks you, say ‘kiss’ and click. Then give him praise and a treat. Soon, your dog will figure out what the ‘kiss’ means and will perform the trick on demand.
If your dog has the tendency to get over excited and starts licking your whole face, tell him ‘enough’. Then wait until he has stopped licking you before telling him ‘good’ and click and treat. Repeat this several times and he will soon stop kissing you on demand too!
This practice doesn’t have to be on your face if you or your dog are not comfortable with this close contact. You can also perform this trick on your hand, for example, using the same method outlined above.
Items required: Clicker, treats
- This is a progression from Sit, Lay Down, and Stand.
- Command ‘sit’ and wait for around 6 seconds.
- Then perform a hand motion coupled with the command ‘release’. If you act enthusiastically when doing this, your dog should move from his seated position.
- When he moves off, click and treat.
- Repeat this step until your dog is releasing on demand consistently.
- Gradually, start to be less enthusiastic with your command. Withdraw the hand motion and just use your voice.
- Then begin to tone down your voice until your command is quit subtle.
- Each time you practise this trick after step 7, increase the time in which you throw the ball to when you command release (3 seconds every time). This builds up your dog’s patience and discipline until he can wait for a few minutes in the sit position.
This trick is only teachable if you have already taught your dog how to Sit, Lay Down and Stand. It is the next progression. If your dog sits and stays consistently on command, then this trick should be really easy to teach, but very difficult he doesn’t. This trick is a mechanism to let your dog know when it’s ok to move around freely. This is very useful when playing with your dog. If you are playing fetch, you can get him to sit, stand or lay down before you throw the ball. After you have gone through the steps of this trick sufficiently, your dog should stay in the position until you command ‘release’ and then go and fetch the ball.
If your dog releases before you tell him to, it might be because he is anticipating the amount of time he needs to sit before you command release. Try varying the gap between the two commands to keep him on his toes.