Your dog wants to please you. She wants to follow your lead and make you proud. Nothing in the world does that better than teaching her tricks and then helping her show them off!
Teaching your dog some great tricks not only gives you a chance to prove that your dog is the best dog ever, it also gives you a chance to spend some great time bonding with her.
When teaching your dog a new trick, the most important thing to be both fun and consistent as you repeat the trick over and over with her. Make it fun for her. Show her the trick, praise her, and reward her with a healthy treat.
As she gets better and consistently performs the trick, you can back off of the treats, but always keep showering her with affection and praise!
Instead of the ordinary roll over and sit pretty (or in addition to them), why not teach your dog a few simple, but unique tricks?
Here are a few tricks to try…
Easy to teach and so cute to watch! Simply hold the treat (and later your fingers or a small prop), above your dog’s head so she stands up on her hind legs. Repeat “Shall we dance?” while you lead her around in a pirouette or a figure 8, and then reward her. You’ll have her waltzing in no time!
(you might want to avoid this trick with short-legged dogs or dogs with hip problems…)
Take a Bow
Start your dog off standing on all fours, then hold a treat on the floor in front of him. Help him lower his chest and head to the floor while keeping his hind end standing. Hold the position for a few seconds before you release him with an “OK” and give him the treat.
A clever and less traumatic variation on Play Dead, start your dog with “lie down” and hold a treat to the side of her head while you repeat “Nap Time.” You can add a signal by making a pillow with your hands against your cheek if your dog responds well to visual cues.
Help her roll onto her side with her head down. Praise her while she holds the position until you say “OK” and give her the treat.
Once she can do it from a lying down position, try it from standing, and help her down and into Nap Time for the first few tries.
Go to Bed
Does your dog take up more space on the mattress than you do? Not only impressive, this “trick” is very useful to reclaim your bed so both you and your dog can sleep better!
Position your dog’s bed or crate at the foot of your bed or in a convenient corner of your room. Then each night before bed, take five to ten minutes to use reward and praise to encourage your dog to use his own bed. As you repeat “Go to bed!” teach your dog to jump down from your bed, lie down on his own bed, and stay. Repeat this a few times each evening, and every time he tries to return to your bed. He’ll pick up quickly; within a week or so, you’ll find you’re both sleeping better!
And for a fun variation, try flipping off the light as you say “Go to bed”…your dog will eventually learn that cue and might start going to bed all on his own when you turn the light off!
If your dog has beds in other areas of the house (family room), practice this trick with each one, teaching him to find the nearest bed.
Take it up a notch!
Once your dog has learned these basic and convenient skills, it’s time to combine them for some great fun.
Exit, Stage Left
For more theatrical families, Exit, Stage Left combines three tricks to add a dramatic flair and give your dog a little distance from overstimulating environments such as guests at the dinner table!
Start by having him Take a Bow, and then Go To Bed, and end with Nap Time. Repeat the three tricks in sequence, praising him for each, but only giving him the treat at the end of the last trick.
And for a final, simple, but impressive trick…
Ask your dog to sit, tell him to stay, then tip his head back so his nose points to the ceiling. Balance a treat on the tip of his nose and hold him there while you repeat “Patience…” before you say “OK” to let him have the treat. (While he’s learning, you may need to alternate between “Patience” and “Stay” commands). As he learns, extend the time he waits…visitors are always impressed to see a dog tremble in anticipation, but continue to hold the treat until you give the signal!