Tricks

To teach your dog tricks takes time and energy but it is a lot of fun for you both.

The Basics

The basics of teaching any kind of trick are to use lots of rewards at first and expect improvements very slowly. Come armed with patience and lots of treats.

Spin

Teaching your dog to spin around in a circle is always a crowd pleaser. Begin by showing your dog the treat, let them lick and smell it, and then move it around and behind them so that their head will follow. As they complete the circle, reward them with the treat and try again.

High Five

There are many ways to teach a high five, but the easiest and simplest way is to simply pick up their paw. As you are holding it, give them a treat, and then start again. Over time, they will begin to pick up their paw as you reach for it. This is a lovely shake, but if you want a high five, only reward when their paw is a little bit higher than usual.

Roll Over

Roll over is a little bit harder. Ask your dog to drop. Once they are lying down, move the treat over their shoulder so that their head follows. This is as far as some dogs will go, whilst others will roll over onto their side. Whichever your dog will comfortably do, reward them for trying, and then start again. Over time, they will start lying on their side reliably when you move the treat over their shoulder.

Now you can start to expect a little more. Move the treats up and over to the other side, so that their head follows and their body rolls over. Make sure you start on soft carpet or grass and reward them for trying at first!

Sit Up

Sitting up on their haunches is really cute. Start with them in a sitting position. Now move the treat slowly upwards so that they have to stretch to reach it. If their paws move off the floor even a little bit, then reward them with the treat and start again.

Start increasing the difficulty by expecting their paws to move a little higher before you give them the reward. Balancing is difficult for most dogs, and they will have to practise using the right muscles with you as you make it harder and harder. By the end of your training, they should sit up on their haunches with their paws held up – adorable!

More Tricks

By using the skills you have learned in training these tricks, there’s no end to what you can teach them. Simply use a treat to lure them into the right position and then reward them. If the trick is to complicated to do in one session, then reward them for trying an approximation of it and increase the difficulty slowly. The number of tricks they can learn is limited only by your imagination.

For some ideas, try teaching them to go through your legs, over a jump, or crawl along the ground. You can move on to getting them to open boxes or put their toys away if you get really good!

Teaching Your Dog The Basics

Teaching Your Dog to Sit

With persistence you can teach your dog many things, but lets just start with the basics.

Firstly, you have to teach your dog the meaning of the word ‘sit’. The best way is to reward their natural behaviour and name it. When they naturally sit, say sit and give them a reward.

A way to reinforce this behaviour is to hold treats in your hand, allow the dog to sniff and then move the treats from the tip of the nose up towards the top of the head. Nose goes up, bottom goes down!

Once his bottom hits the floor, say ‘good!’ and give him a treat. Once he begins to know what do, you can start saying the word ‘sit’ before you show him the treats. He’ll learn that sitting predicts the arrival of treats and he should sit when you say the word, to get his reward.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Repetition is everything in dog training.

Teaching Your Dog To Drop

Once again start by rewarding natural behaviour and saying the word drop or down or whatever word you want to call it.

Once your dog knows how to sit, it’s a simple step to move on to lying down.

Have some treats in a training pouch, and ask your dog to sit. Once he sits down, show him the treats and begin to very slowly move them from his nose to between his paws. Let him lick, chew and smell them, but don’t let him have them just yet. If his nose reaches his paws and but he isn’t down yet, move the treats slowly outwards from his feet to encourage him.

Once he lies down, repeat ‘good’ and give him the treat. Over time, he will begin lying down as soon as you move the treat downwards. It is at this point that you can start saying ‘lie down’ or ‘drop’ before you begin. He’ll soon realise that if he lies down when you say so, he will get a reward.

Dropping can often take a little more time to learn than sitting. Keep up the practice, but if you’re really struggling, try moving onto a softer carpet or rug. Many dogs don’t like to get cold bellies, or won’t lie down on materials they don’t like very much.

Teaching Your Dog to Stay

Teaching your dog to stay is simply an extension of what they already know – they key is to lengthen the time very slowly and gradually.

Ask them to sit, and then introduce the word ‘stay’, with a palm outstretched towards them. Wait for a few seconds, and then say ‘good’ and reward them. Make sure that you then release them with an ‘ok’, so that you can always let them know how long to stay for.

The next time you practice, wait for a couple more seconds before you reward them, and then release – ‘ok’. In this way, you can increase the time more and more. Once they are staying in the sit position without moving, you can start moving away from them.

This time, ask for a ‘sit’ – ‘stay’ and then take one step back away from them, before returning to reward and release them. If your dog moves towards you, try just lifting up one leg, instead. You can move on to taking steps once they get the hang of that. In the same way as before, in each practice session you can take a few more steps.

Once they are really good at it, practice walking around them in a circle, sitting down in a chair, or running past them. Introduce skateboards and bikes, or loud noises or lots of people slowly and gradually, and you can teach your dog a bombproof stay, no matter what happens!