5 Easy Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Author: Amanda Brahlek
Did you just adopt a dog or are you looking to expand your dog’s repertoire of commands? Either way, you’re enriching your dog’s life and strengthening your bond with your best friend. Training your dog isn’t just about impressing others with your dog’s abilities. Learning new tricks rewards your dog with mental stimulation and increases their physical prowess. Ready to dive into some dog training fundamentals? Get started with these 5 easy tricks to teach your dog.
Set Your Dog Up for Success: Dog Training Basics
Before you leap into the world of dog training, there are some things you should know.
- First, beginning with simple tricks teaches your dog the foundation of more complex tricks. The basic “beginner” dog tricks also teach your dog how to learn and respond to your commands.
- Secondly, always stick to positive reinforcement. Praise and treats help build morale and establish a constructive environment and trust. Once your dog builds their desire to please, you will be surprised which tricks they’re able to learn. Frustration and lashing out actually break down your dog’s respect for you.
- Do not overwhelm or overwork your dog. Balance training with breaks, play, and downtime. Most dogs (especially puppies) cannot focus and continue to learn for more than 10 to 15 minutes. So, keep training sessions short.
- Spontaneity is a great way to make your training sessions more fun. Surprise your dog by engaging in training at a new and different time now and then. This teaches them that obedience isn’t just restricted to certain times and circumstances. Once your dog becomes more advanced, take a break on walks to practice some training skills.
5 Tricks That You Can Easily Teach Your Dog
Okay. Now that you and your dog are ready to begin training sessions, prepare your dog’s training treats, find a quiet area with little to no distractions, and get started.
Sit is the first foundation trick every dog needs to know. It can come in handy when you need to redirect your dog, clip their nails, or brush their coat. To teach your dog this essential command, simply:
1. Begin with your dog in a standing position. Let your dog smell the treats you have to offer.
2. Once you have your dog’s attention, move the treats from in front of their nose upward. This movement should reposition the treats about six inches over your dog’s eyes, ears, or head. This will engage your dog’s natural instinct to sit down.
3. When your dog’s bottom touches the floor, immediately allow them to lick or eat some of the treats while praising them. Repeat this two to four times.
4. Let your dog stand back up. You may need to move away and call them over. Switch the treats to your other hand. Use your empty hand to “cue” your dog the same way you did in step 2. However, in this step, you will begin saying, “sit” as you move your hand upward. And when your dog sits, reward them with a treat from the non-cueing hand.
If your dog does not know how to shake, make this trick a priority. It is a practical command that makes clipping their nails, removing burrs and thorns, and reinforcing your dog’s attention so much easier. To teach your dog to shake hands:
1. Ask your dog to sit. Then put your hand out flat just below the level of their elbow. Then wait.
2. Your dog will begin trying out different things to figure out what you’re doing and how to earn the treat. This may include smelling your hand, licking it, and even resting their head on it. But they will eventually put their paw on yours.
3. When your dog touches your hand with their paw, praise them and give them their treat. Repeat this 2 to 4 times.
4. After your dog has the movement down, add the word “shake” or “paw” in when you present your hand.
Teaching your dog to stay put can be a matter of safety. It also helps your furry friend learn impulse control and patience. This trick builds on the “sit” command, so be sure your dog has that down before moving onto stay. Here’s how to teach your dog this valuable command:
1. Ask your dog to sit. Praise them, but do not give them access to the treat. Instead of allowing your dog to gobble up a yummy training treat, put your hand up, facing them. Say “stay.”
2. Count to 3, then lower your hand and give your dog their reward. If your dog gets up from the sitting position before your 3 count is up, start over. Repeat this 2 to 4 times.
3. Once your dog consistently stays put for 3 seconds (this will likely take multiple training sessions over the course of a few days), you can increase the length of time between when you say “stay” and when you release them from the stay position.
4. As your dog builds their ability to wait patiently, you can introduce backing away from them as they stay. You will want to restart at a 3-count and face your dog as you step backwards away from them.
The “down” command is a secondary foundation command that builds on the sit command. It can be coupled with “roll over” once your dog masters it. While it may seem difficult, teaching your dog to lie down is anything but tricky.
1. Begin with your dog in the sitting position. Let them smell their treat to get them excited. Once you have their attention, slowly lower the treat to the floor, between their paws.
2. Your dog will likely bow their head to the treat. Do not let them have the treat when they do this. Instead, wait for them to lower their entire body.
3. As soon as your dog’s forearms and body are flat on the floor, reward them with extra praise and let them have the treat. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
4. Once your dog is in the habit of lowering down to get their treat, begin to couple your hand movement with the word “down.” After repeating this a few times, you will want to switch which hand holds the treat. Eventually, pointing down, having your dog lie down, then reward them with a treat from the other hand.
Spin is a wonderful trick that really impresses an audience. While it may seem like this trick isn’t practical, it is a great way to encourage your dog to deepen their ability to follow commands. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Let your dog smell their training treat. After you’ve piqued their interest, move the hand holding the treat next to your dog’s head. This will prompt your dog to turn toward the treat.
2. As your dog continues to turn, move your hand in a complete circle.
3. Once your dog completes the full circle, praise them and let them have the treat. Repeat this 2 to 4 times.
4. After your dog is used to spinning as a way to follow the treat, switch the hand the treat is in and introduce the verbal “spin” command.
Learning FUNdamentals for Your Dog
When it comes to keeping your dog on their toes, enriching their life, and strengthening the connection you have with your dog, training is a no-brainer. Remember that slow, steady, and consistency wins the race when it comes to training sessions. And once your dog has mastered a few of these tricks, try building on their ability by linking tricks together!