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June 30, 2020
Pets add so much to our lives; they become our best friends, they can decrease stress, and even in many cases, make us healthier - something known as the “pet effect.” Building a strong relationship with your canine companion is key to forming a lasting bond with your pup, and training your dog plays a large role in the bonding experience. Essential basic commands like sit, stay, come, and lie down are the foundation for raising a well-behaved, well-adjusted pooch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach your pup some fun dog tricks too.
Once your pal can consistently and correctly perform the above mentioned basic commands, you can start to add some more quirky tricks into the mix, like shake, high-five, rollover, and even dance. Before you start working with your pup on these extra tricks, consider his personality. If he took very well to training when you worked with him on the basics, and you enjoyed the experience, then teaching your pup some bonus commands can be a lot of fun. However, if you were frequently frustrated during the training process, or your pup has a big stubborn streak, you might want to call it a day.
If you decide to press on with teaching your furry friend some fun dog tricks, then keep it simple in the beginning. The tips and advice that go along with training your pup in the basic commands also apply to any extra tricks you decide to teach him. In other words, have lots of treats and rewards ready, use positive reinforcement, and stay consistent throughout the process.
Whether you have dreams of your pup being in the Westminster Dog Show or participating in a simple local pet-talent competition, teaching him some entertaining commands can create quite the conversation starter.
Here are a few simple tricks you can add to your pup’s repertoire to make him the life of the dog park:
First, have your dog sit. (If you haven’t taught your dog to sit yet, remember, he needs a strong foundation in the basics before you start teaching him fun tricks). Hold a treat in one hand, let your pup see and smell it but don’t let him get it. If he tries to grab it, close your fist.
Next, with your fist closed around the treat, give the command “Shake,” (or “paw” if you prefer), and your dog should naturally attempt to raise his paw or even paw at your hand since he knows you are hiding a treat. Reward any small movements like this with a treat and praise and lots of enthusiasm. Start to shift your reward response to only giving your pup the treat when he places his paw on your hand. Then, start to only give the verbal command when your pup actually touches your hand, as soon as he does, say “Shake,” and reward your pup.
Once you are confident that your dog is associating the command with placing his paw on your hand, then start to deliver the verbal cue a little sooner. As you move your hand toward your pooch, deliver the command so that he meets your hand with his paw, and reward him accordingly.
Once your pup is sitting and understands the shake command, you can give the high-five trick a try. As you are doing the shake command, start to raise your hand higher until your pup has to reach for it. Don’t make it really hard for your pup, just enough so he has to stretch for the treat. As soon as his paw reaches the appropriate height, say “High-five!” and reward your pup. Continue to do this until your pup can perform the command simply from hearing the verbal cue.
The first thing that you need to do to teach your pup to roll over is to ensure that he correctly performs the “lie down” command. When your pup is lying down, squat down in front of him and hold a treat in front of his nose, where he can see and smell it but not grab it.
Move the treat up and around your pup’s head as you move it toward his tail, making his nose follow the treat and his body rotate until he rolls over. If necessary, using your free hand you can give a gentle assist to help your dog complete the action. While your pup is in the process of rolling over, say the command, “Rollover,” so your dog can associate it with the movement and reward him immediately with a treat and praise when he performs the behavior.
Start with your pooch standing next to you, at your side, and hold a treat in your hand. Make sure he notices the treat and begin to slowly move your hand to encourage your pup to walk in a circle around your legs. Keep your hand close to your body, and as your pup starts to circle, reward, and praise him at different moments. Deliver the command, “Dance” or whatever similar verbal command you choose (just make sure you always use the same command to avoid any confusion).
You can also start to raise the treat up so your pup stands on his hind legs. Move the treat in a circular motion so your pup’s nose follows it, and he starts to turn in a circle. As your dog spins, deliver the appropriate verbal command and reward and praise him. Eventually, you can remove the motion and have your pup dance simply by giving him the verbal cue.
Hold a treat and get your pup’s attention by saying his name in an excited voice. Keep your attitude very upbeat and positive; the idea is to make your pup excited so he will bark. As soon as he barks, say, “Speak!” and give your dog the treat and praise him. Repeat this several times until your pup starts to associate the verbal cue with the appropriate behavior and is able to bark upon command.
With all of these tricks, as your dog becomes more successful with each one, remember to keep practicing. When you start with visual signals, the goal is to progress to using only a verbal command. The more you do it, the easier it will be for your dog and the more quickly he will respond to your verbal commands.
Again, whether you’re training your dog in the basics, or prepping him for an audition to be the next doggy star, the proper technique and attitude is always a must. Stay positive with your pooch, and if you find yourself losing patience, either end the training session for the day, rethink your plan or get help from a pro.
Before you progress into more complicated tricks, make sure your pup has learned all of the basics and can execute them consistently. In other words, don’t expect him to run before he can walk, and build up to the more complicated commands.
Ensure that your dog can stay focused and engaged during training by providing ample opportunities for play and exercise, as well as proper mental stimulation. Your pup should have regular activity sessions throughout the day, as well as a collection of interactive toys, like the Rolly Cannoli, to help keep her occupied when you are unable to participate or are away from home.
Have all of your supplies at the ready; you don’t want to end up with a half-hearted training lesson because you came ill-prepared. Gather up lots of your pup’s favorite treats, have a quality harness or collar and leash if needed, and ensure that you have set aside a designated time to work with your pup so you don’t have to deal with any distractions.
Above all, consistency and follow-through are of the utmost importance when it comes to successfully training your dog. Don’t give up, stay calm, and stay determined. If you find you need a helping hand, you can check out the Association of Professional Dog Trainers to find an expert trainer near you.Now you’re ready to take your pup out and let him wow people with his amazing new abilities! For more tips on training your dog, and to find some other great resources that can help you be a great pet parent, make sure to check out the rest of our blog! Our goal at Neater Pets is to make sure that pet owners have the information they need to do the very best for their furry friends.
January 25, 2023