When your dog has mastered the basics of obedience training, it’s time to move on to something a bit more challenging. Teaching your pet how to do dog tricks provides her with mental stimulation. It also gives you and your pet a chance to have fun while she’s learning something new. If you’re not sure what kinds of tricks to teach your dog, consider doing some of the following.
Tips for Teaching Dog Tricks
Teaching your dog how to do dog tricks is based on the same methods as obedience training. Your dog learns how to do a particular behavior, and your job is to reward her for it. This builds positive reinforcement, which makes your dog more likely to keep performing the correct behavior over and over again. When you start working on teaching these tricks, keep the following in mind:
- You can use verbal commands to get your dog to do a wide range of different tricks, but keep each command consistent for each trick. This helps your dog learn more easily.
- Don’t get frustrated and punish your dog for not doing what you want her to. Just as you would with obedience training, it’s important to stay calm while teaching your dog to do tricks.
- Give your dog plenty of time to learn. Dog tricks can be harder for dogs to learn, so it might take longer for your pet to do the right behavior on command. Practice these tricks a number of times while using consistent commands, and your dog will soon learn to master them.
- Phase out rewards over time when your dog learns how to perform the correct behavior. While treat rewards provide a lot of incentive for dogs, you don’t need to continue giving them to your pet once she’s learned to successfully do each trick. Instead, slowly phase them out and use praise as a reward.
This gives your dog an adorable and friendly way to greet you and other people. In order to teach your dog this trick, use the following steps:
- Hold your hand up with the palm side facing your dog. If your dog reaches her paw up toward your hand, reward her with a treat. If not and if she’s OK with you handling her paw, gently raise her paw and tap your hand with it to show her what to do.
- Add the verbal command “high five” while holding your hand up. Reward your dog with a treat and praise each time she successfully raises her paw and touches your raised hand.
- Repeat these steps as needed to give your dog a chance to learn to do this trick correctly when you use the verbal command.
While your dog probably won’t learn to do complicated dance routines, you can teach her a basic twirl. To do this, follow these steps:
- Hold a treat in your hand, and raise it over your dog’s head. Your dog can be sitting or standing at this time.
- Move your hand around your dog’s head in a circle. Your dog should naturally turn around to follow it. Reward her with the treat if she does so. If not, keep working on it until she does the right movement.
- Add the verbal command “dance” while repeating the previous step. As your dog learns to twirl around, you can move your hand a bit faster. Keep working on giving the command and rewarding your dog for doing the right behavior until she masters this dog trick.
Ring the Bell
Some dog tricks are meant to be nothing more than fun or amusing things for your dog to do, but this is a practical one. You can teach your dog to ring a bell by the door when she needs to go out. To do this, use the following steps:
- Bring the bell out, and let your dog sniff it in order to get used to it. Give her a treat if she touches it with her nose.
- Hang the bell on the door, then ring it to show your dog what it does. When she goes up to it and nudges it with her nose, give her a treat. Keep in mind that it might take awhile for her to figure this out. Remove the bell from the door when you’re not working on training her.
- Hang the bell on the door again, and put a treat on the other side of the door. When your dog rings the bell, let her have the treat. This helps form a positive association with ringing the bell and going outside.
- Leave the bell on the door, and let your dog ring it before you take her outside to go potty. Have her touch the bell each time you go to take her outside, and she’ll learn that she should ring the bell when she needs to go out.
Rolling over is one of the most common dog tricks for pets to learn. You can teach your dog how to do this by using the following steps:
- If your dog knows the “down” command, use this to have your dog lie down on the floor.
- Hold a treat in your hand over your dog’s head, and move your hand to the side and toward the floor. Your dog should follow this movement, which will cause her to roll onto her side. Give her a treat as a reward.
- While your dog is on her side, hold another treat in your hand and move it over her head so she’ll have to roll over on her back to follow it. This step can take awhile for dogs to learn, so be patient. When she successfully rolls over, reward her with the treat.
- Add the verbal command “roll over” when you have your dog lie down and roll over. Move the treat in your hand to encourage her to roll over all the way.
- Repeat these steps as needed until your dog learns to fully roll over when you give the command.
Getting dogs to speak is among the most fun types of dog tricks. To do this one, follow these steps:
- Do something that will cause your dog to bark, such as ringing the doorbell. As soon as she barks, give the verbal command “speak” and a treat as a reward.
- Practice giving the verbal command and rewarding your dog when she barks. You might have to repeat this step several times before your dog does what you expect her to, especially if she’s not normally the type to bark much.
- Keep in mind that you might not want to teach your dog this trick if she tends to bark a lot. Instead, you can teach your talkative dog to hush on command. Just reward her when she stops barking and looks at you. You can add the verbal command “hush” to this, so you can easily get her to stop barking when she shouldn’t be.
Open the Door
Dogs might have a more difficult time opening doors with their paws than cats, but there are other ways that they can do so. You can train your dog to open doors by doing the following:
- Tie a cloth around the door, then let your dog put one end of it in her mouth. She should start to tug on it, which will cause the door to open. When this happens, give your dog a treat.
- Add the verbal command “open” before having your dog tug on the cloth to open the door. Reward her with a treat each time she successfully follows this command.
- Continue to practice giving the verbal command, and your dog will learn to open the door when you ask her to. Just make sure you’re not teaching your dog to open a door that leads to an open yard or other area where she could get into trouble or get hurt.
If your dog has toys scattered around your home, you can get her to clean up after herself. These kinds of dog tricks are fun yet also serve a practical purpose. To get your dog to put her toys away when she’s done playing, do the following:
- Place a large box in one of the rooms in your home. Put your dog’s toys in a pile near the box or at least in the same room. Give one toy at a time to your dog, then point to the box and tell her to drop it. Your dog should learn to drop the toys in the box.
- Add the verbal command “clean up” before giving your dog any toys. Reward your dog with treats each time she brings a toy over to the box and puts it in.
- Keep repeating the previous step until your dog gets the hang of bringing toys over to the box on her own and putting them inside it.
This is also among the most common dog tricks for pets to learn. In order to have your dog learn this trick, do the following:
- Give the “down” command to your dog. Hold a treat in your hand and move it to the side, so your dog turns over. Keep moving the treat until she rolls over onto her back. Give her the treat at this point.
- Add the verbal command “play dead” and reward your dog when she learns to do this trick successfully.
- Repeat the previous steps until your dog knows what to do when she hears you give this command.