What are a Few Simple Tricks to Teach Your Dog
All dogs can learn tricks. Here are five tricks for you to enjoy teaching your little buddy.
Dogs can learn tricks at any age, and they love it because they get to spend time with you. You’ll also enjoy it because they will learn to listen to you and likely become more fun.
Here we have some things to consider for training and teaching them, followed by five tricks to teach your dog.
Dog Training Basics
By now, you know some things that can make training your dog easier. Let’s go over some again just in case.
Rewards and/or Reinforcements
Dog training is based on introducing positive reinforcement after the dog completes the task. When using reinforcement, remember you’re not trying to bribe the dog, but instead looking for a way to reward him for displaying a particular behavior. Let’s look at the reinforcements.
For training dogs, food is the best reward. It’s because all dogs like food, and you can deliver it quickly. Keep plenty of pea-sized treats that your dog enjoys on hand.
Verbal Cues and Petting
You should teach your dog the trick you want it to perform using the same commands. Using the same word in different ways will confuse your dog. It is also a good idea to combine your food reward with a verbal reward (praise) and petting.
Toys and Playtime
Some dogs find that playing with toys is more rewarding than treats. As an example, if your dog just ate a meal, food treats might not seem as enticing as they did before dinnertime.
Engage your dog in different kinds of play and observe their body language and excitement level to determine what kind of toys or play your dog prefers. By playing with your dog, you can create a strong bond with it. Playtime with other dog pals can also motivate dogs.
A clicker makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Using a click is much faster and more effective than simply saying “good dog” or training with treats. After the click, give the dog a tasty treat to reinforce the meaning of it. Eventually, the dog can be trained by just the clicks.
Duration and Place
Remember your dog has the mind and attention span of a toddler as you teach it a new trick. To avoid boredom and confusion, keep your sessions between 10-15 minutes. Try to train your dog before its scheduled mealtime otherwise it might not be very focused.
Whenever you start learning tricks, pick a quiet part of the house where you can move around freely. When the dog improves and understands what is expected of him, you can work in more distracting environments (like your fenced yard).
Five Tricks to Teach
Here are five dog tricks and methods for teaching them.
Have a lot of high-value treats or rewards handy when you start teaching the handshake trick.
- Hold out your hand (with a treat hidden) to your dog. As your dog learns, it may experiment by sniffing, licking, etc. The key is to wait it out and not say anything.
- Once your dog paws at your hand, click/praise (like saying “yes”), open your hand and give the treat. Repeat this step several times until your dog repeatedly paws at your hand.
- Once your dog learns to repeatedly paw your hand, increase the duration and difficulty. As soon as your dog has mastered this and is doing it repeatedly, you can say “give paw” and reward him.
- Once your dog seems to understand this, train it to do this without a treat in your hand.
“Leave it” is a command your dog can use to avoid injury and possibly save its life. The steps are as follows:
- Place two types of treats (one boring, the other a tasty high-value treat) in your hands. Put your hands behind your back.
- Allow the dog to sniff the lower-value treat in your fist. Allow him to finish sniffing and tell him to “leave it.” Say “yes” or use the clicker to offer him the high-value treat as soon as he finishes smelling.
- Repeat the first two stages till your dog stops sniffing as soon as you say “leave it.” At this point, put him on a leash. Now throw the treat some distance away. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling at the treat. Once he does, give him the high-value treat and click or say “yes”. With practice, your dog will fully understand “leave it” and become obedient.
Playing fetch with your dog can provide exercise and a stronger bond between you and your dog. Here’s how you go about it:
- Select an appropriate toy for your dog (based on its age, size, and ability) and introduce it to the dog with a game or by putting a treat inside.
- When the dog is interested in the toy, throw it a few feet away from you (no more than 5 feet). If your dog follows the toy, click and throw a treat. Your dog will learn that following the toy is fun and rewarding.
- The following stage is to entice your dog to come back to you. Toss the toy a few feet away from you, wait for them to grasp it in their mouth, and then click and give them a treat when they turn to face you. A verbal cue, such as “bring,” can be used. Rep this process until your dog turns around and approaches you holding the toy.
- As your dog shows an understanding of the game (following the toy after a toss, grabbing it in their mouth, and coming to you with it), you can begin extending the distance of your throws and rewarding accordingly until it becomes a habit.
People, especially children, love it when their dogs give kisses on command. To teach the trick, use some yummy treats and follow the steps below.
- Spread some peanut butter on your cheek with some dog treats on hand.
- Make your dog sit in front of you, lean into him and, offer your cheek. When your dog shows interest in licking your cheek, say “yes” or “good girl/boy” and reward him/her with a dog treat.
- After practicing this fun trick a few minutes each day, your dog will come running over to you when you command him to do so.
A simple yet impressive trick to teach your dog is the roll-over trick.
- Start with your dog in front of you. Hold a treat close to his nose (but on the side of his head).
- As you move your hand from their nose to their shoulder, try to get them to roll flat on their side. While holding a treat, move your hand from the shoulder to the backbone. They should roll onto their backs as a result.
- As your dog rolls over, accompany the action with the verbal cue “roll-over.” Reward your dog with treats and praise when they consistently follow the treat all the way around. Eventually, you will be able to rely only on verbal cues to get your dog to perform the trick.
Here we have not covered all the tricks you can teach nor all aspects of dog training. This is just a start and we hope you experiment with many more once you master these five simple tricks. Just remember that dogs, like people, may forget much of what they have learned as they age. Running through even the most basic tricks and commands will help your dog remember them. In addition, it’s a great way to spend time with your dog!