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  • Writer's pictureHannah Stein

7 Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog

By Hannah Stein

The winter holidays are only a few weeks away and family is coming to town, so you've got to impress. Try showing off your dog's smarts by teaching your pup these fun tricks!

Here are some tips before we begin:

1. Make sure your dog has a motivator. For some dogs it's treats, a clicker, or a toy, while for other dogs, it's their special bond with you.

2. Keep training sessions short and brief. It's difficult for a pup to learn if they are tired or frustrated.

3. Once your dog seems to have learned the trick, don't completely stop using the reward. Reward your dog incrementally for their work.

4. Have fun! Training your dog is great for bonding. Enjoy this time spent together.

1. Shake

This trick is pretty simple and one of the easiest tricks to teach because dogs naturally paw at humans to get what they want. There are a few different methods to teach this trick. The first is to wait it out. Hold a few treats in your fist. If your dog is food motivated, they will try pawing at your hand for the treat. At the moment your dog lifts up their paw, reward them verbally and with a treat or toy. Repeat this a few times before adding a verbal cue like, "shake" or "high-five."

2. Roll Over

The key to this trick is repetition. Training your dog to roll over is a three step process. First, have your dog lay down. Next, encourage your dog to lay on their side. Once they are comfortable in that position, move the hand with the treat all the way around to encourage them to roll over. Use the verbal cue "roll over." Repeat this process until your dog is more confident with this trick.

3. Spin

First, get your dog to notice either a treat or toy in your hand. Then, hold it above their nose and slowly move the treat or toy in a large circle above their head. They should follow your hand. Once they have completed a circle, stop to give a reward and a verbal cue, like "spin." Once they are consistently following your hand in a circle, try removing the treat and using only a hand signal and verbal cue.

4. Take a Bow

Begin by having your dog stand. Hold the treat in front of their nose and slowly lower your hand down to the ground in between their paws. If your dog already knows the command "down," they may confuse "take a bow" for "down." To avoid this, you can use a physical block, like your foot, under their hind legs to make sure they don't go all the way down. When you draw your hand between their paws, their head should follow your hands. Lure your dog down several times to encourage this action. Continue putting your hand down without a treat. Add the verbal cue such as, "bow" or "curtsy."

5. Leap

This is a great tip to teach very active dogs. Start by having your dog sit and stay. Place a stick on the ground. Walk over the stick yourself, stand directly behind the stick, and call your dog. You should stand directly behind the stick because it gives your dog no other option, but to jump over the stick to get to you. Your dog should walk over the stick. When they do walk over the stick, immediately praise your dog. Then, add height by raising the stick with a couple of books stacked underneath it. As before, sit your dog. When you walk away from your dog, step over the stick. Stand behind the stick and call your dog. Slowly raise the stick up. Add a verbal cue like, "jump," "leap," or "over."

6. Crawl

Begin this trick by having your dog in the down position. Lure your pup forward by sliding the treat or toy a few inches in front of their nose. Slowly increase the distance and give them the reward every time they crawl forward. If your dog stands up, lure them back into a down and try again. Add a verbal cue and/or hand signal.

7. Wave goodbye

When it's time for all of your houseguests to leave, they will get a kick out of this trick! Keep in mind that "wave goodbye" requires your dog to already know how to shake or high five. Start by asking your dog to give you a high five. Instead of placing your hand in front of them to shake, stay further back to only let them swipe the air. Reward this motion and give a verbal cue like "wave" or "goodbye." Repeat this a number of times until your dog seems to understand.

Your dog will be the star of the holidays with these awesome tricks! Have fun teaching your dog new things while spending invaluable time with them.


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References: AKC, DogTime, AKC, SuccessDogs


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