So your dog knows the basics – sit, stay, and come. Why not train them to do a new trick? It’s not as hard as you may think, and any dog (or human!) can benefit from learning some new tricks. Training is a great way to bond with your pup while providing them some mental stimulation. And, who doesn’t love showing off their dog’s tricks to their friends?
Make Sure They’ve Mastered the Basics
If your dog is still struggling to ‘sit” or “stay,” there’s no chance they’ll be able to successfully complete a more complicated trick right off the bat. To avoid frustration for the both of you, help your dog master the basic commands before moving on to more difficult tricks. When “sit,” “stay,” “come,’ and “lie down” become routine, you know it’s time to introduce some more complex commands.
Be Generous With Treats
You may be tempted to use dog kibble or err on the stingy side when giving treats during the training phase. However, that’s the exact opposite of what you should be doing. To keep your dog motivated, use high-value treats (like chicken, liver treats, or anything your dog really enjoys). Then, pair treats with lots of verbal reinforcement and pats to keep your dog motivated.
Be Mindful Of Timing
No matter what trick you’re trying to teach Fido, the sequence should be: command, action, reward. Especially during the early stages of training, the reward should come immediately after the dog completes the action. This reinforces the behavior you’re trying to teach and shows your dog exactly what you expect from them when you say a command. If you wait longer than a few seconds to give the reward, the dog won’t understand what they did to earn it.
Just as you may have learned a language in high school and have forgotten all but a few phrases, your dog needs constant reinforcement to remember tricks. Once your dog knows a few fancier tricks, be sure to review those and their basic commands to make sure each trick stays fresh in their minds.
Ready to teach your dog a few new tricks? Try some of our favorites!
Teach Your Dog to Shake
- Have your dog sit.
- Show them the treat in your hand.
- Close your hand around the treat and wait.
- As your dog realizes the treat is in your closed hand, they’ll try to paw at your hand to get it from you. If this doesn’t work, use your other hand to gently tap the back of his leg until he lifts his paw.
- As they start to move their paw, say “shake.”
- As soon as they touch their paw to your hand, reward your dog with a treat.
Teach Your Dog to Crawl
- Have your dog lie down.
- Bring the treat to the floor so your dog can see it.
- Once she starts to move to get the treat, say “crawl.”
- Take a few steps so your dog can crawl along the ground to get the treat. Then, give them the reward.
Teach Your Dog to Roll Over
- Have your dog lie down.
- Use a treat to guide your dog’s nose over their shoulder, which will make him roll onto his side.
- Continue this part of the trick until your dog is comfortable rolling onto his side with his head on the floor.
- When your dog is on his side, continue moving the treat from his shoulder to his backbone. This should encourage him to roll onto his back.
- Continue the movement so he rolls onto the other side.
- Once he’s used to each motion, add the verbal “roll over” cue.