In our last blog post for Train Your Dog Month, we listed some essentials for training your new puppy. If your clever pup has already got the basics down, how about learning some fun tricks to teach your dog too?
All that’s required to help your hound paw-fect the following party tricks are some treats, time and patience. Oh, and a post-it note for #4 on the list!
Why train your dog to do tricks?
While this kind of training may not be vital for your pet’s behaviour and safety, there are plenty of reasons to put some time aside for it:
- Learning something new is great mental stimulation for any dog.
- The more training you do, of any kind, the better a trainer you’ll become and the better your dog will respond.
- It strengthens the relationship between the two of you.
- It’s fun and you’ll both enjoy showing off your pooch’s skills to friends!
Now you know why teaching fun tricks is worthwhile, let’s move onto the how...
#1 Roll over
For this one, your four-legged friend will need to know ‘down’, as this is the starting place.
Once they’re in this position, hold a treat somewhere near their nose, before pulling it round towards their shoulder. They should be intrigued enough by the treat that they follow it with their head.
From there you can help them roll on to their back and then over to their front, always repeating ‘roll over’ to build the word association. Reward them with a treat each time they complete a roll to begin with, until you think they’ll respond to verbal praise alone.
#2 Weave between your legs
This trick looks awesome - and isn’t too difficult for your pooch to get the hang of, with a bit of practise and encouragement.
Start standing with one leg stretched in front and your dog just behind you. With a treat in hand, wave at your dog between your legs and call them to come, offering him the treat once he’s poked his head through.
Once they’re confident with this move, begin taking a big step forward and encouraging them to pass through your legs once again, using treats and the command ‘weave’ as encouragement.
Next you can either have them complete a figure of eight, or keep taking steps forward for an ongoing weave - both look pawsome!
#3 High five
More fun than just your average ‘paw’ command, teach your dog to go paw to palm in a cute high five move.
Show your dog a treat and then hold it up in a closed fist in front of them. Their natural reaction will be to have a good sniff at it, trying to work out how they can get to it.
Wait for them to bring their paw up in an attempt to open your fist and then reward them with the treat and lots of praise. Keep practising this and repeating ‘high five’ each time, beginning to present just the palm of your hand once they get the knack.
#4 Close the door
Got your post-it note ready? Time to stick it on a door that you’d like Fido to practise closing.
Make a fuss of the post-it note and repeat ‘door’. As soon as your dog goes to sniff or paw at it, reward them with a treat. Once they are hitting the target every time, pull the door ajar and keep praising them every time they push it shut.
You’ll love having a hound who has mastered this trick when you’re cosy on the sofa and someone leaves the door open!
#5 Fetch their lead
Ahead of actually practising this trick, it’s a good idea to have already familiarised your dog with the word ‘lead’; you just need to say it each time you’re putting it on before walkies.
Get your pooch used to carrying the lead in their mouth. Give them a chance to pick it up themselves or try putting it in their mouth yourself, having a treat ready as a reward once they do pick it up. Build on this by also getting them to ‘drop it’.
Next up, place the lead a short distance away and get them to collect it, calling them back over to you and asking them to drop. Reward them each time they successfully fetch their lead and the whole action should start to click.
Rather than just using treats, try taking your canine pal out for a short walk as a reward. This way they associate the trick with going out and they’ll have a huge incentive for performing it every time. You may even find they start fetching their lead to try and nudge you into taking them out for a stroll.