- Easy tricks to teach your dog include shake, roll-over, speak, spin, and kiss.
- It’s important to always use positive reinforcement to encourage your pup.
- Teaching your dog tricks helps strengthen your bond and keeps your dog stimulated.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
If you’re looking to teach your dog some new tricks, all you need is your pup, some patience, and a whole lot of treats. Training your dog is a fun and useful activity that you can do together. Your dog will love spending quality time with you, and of course, all the treats. Plus you’ll get to become an even prouder pet parent than you already are.
Here are five easy tricks to teach your dog, with instructions from dog trainers and vets.
To teach your dog to roll-over, follow these steps recommended by Chiara Dolzani, DVM, dog trainer and co-owner of Stardogs Clubhouse.
- Start with your dog lying down on the floor.
- Offer your dog a small treat, and keep some other treats in your hand.
- Have your hand with the treats near your dog’s shoulder on their “favorite” side, meaning the side they tend to naturally lie on. This way, the dog has to turn their head back to take the treat.
- Slowly move your hand towards the other shoulder and say “roll over” They should follow your movement and eventually lie on their back, and then roll to the other side.
- Move your hand with more energy so they will complete the movement and perform the full rotation.
- Only give them the treat if they successfully do the full roll, and give them lots of praise.
Note: Remember, positive reinforcement with treats and/or praise is key. A 2014 study showed that training with positive reinforcement is less stressful and better for dogs’ welfare.
Teaching your dog how to “speak” is a bit different from teaching them other tricks, since this involves training your dog to associate a behavior they already often do with a command, says Suzanne Gray BVetMed, DACVIM, veterinary specialist at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital & Referral Center. To teach them to speak, follow these steps from Gray.
- Have treats readily available.
- If your dog barks, say the command “Speak!” immediately and give them a treat.
- Repeat the command and reward every time your dog barks
- Over time, your dog will learn to associate barking with the command “speak” and a treat.
- Once they’ve learned to make this association, you should be able to use the command and they will bark in response.
If you want to teach your dog to spin, follow these steps from Gray.
- Start by simply standing in front of your dog and getting them to pay attention to you.
- Give them a treat to reward them for paying attention.
- Hold the treat right above your dog’s nose, but not so close that they can easily reach it.
- Slowly move the treat in a circle.
- While you move the treat and your dog follows it, say the command “Spin!”
- Even if they don’t make it all the way around in a circle, you can still reward them. If they do successfully spin, make a big fuss and give them a treat.
- Eventually, when your dog successfully spins every time, transition into using only the command and only giving a treat when they completely spin.
Note: Did you know you can improve your dog’s overall obedience by regularly playing with them and training them? A 2010 study found that especially in smaller dogs, obedience can be improved in this way.
4. Shake hands
To teach your dog to shake hands or give paw, follow these steps from Annie Grossman, CPDT-KA, owner and co-founder of School For The Dogs.
- Put a treat in your hand.
- Put your fist palm side up (with the treat inside) in front of your dog, near one of their paws.
- Since the dog knows there’s a treat in your fist, they’ll likely paw at it. The moment they paw at your fist, say “yes” and give them a treat.
- Repeat the process, saying “yes” and rewarding your dog every time your dog’s paw makes contact with your hand.
- When your dog gets used to this and is doing it many times in a row, start saying “give paw” when they start to lift their paw and say “yes” when the paw makes contact with your hand.
- When this seems easy to the dog, move on to doing all of this with an open palm without a treat in your hand.
To teach your dog to give you a kiss, follow these steps from Grossman. She recommends only teaching this to a dog who likes to kiss in the first place.
- Put a little bit of peanut butter on your cheek and turn your head away from your dog.
- Say “Kiss” and then turn your cheek to your dog. You can also point to your cheek where the peanut butter is.
- As you continue to practice, use less and less peanut butter.
- At the beginning of teaching this trick, the peanut butter serves as the treat. When you get down to not using peanut butter, make sure you follow their kiss with a lot of praise, a treat, or both.
Teaching your dog tricks can be a fun experience for both you and your pet. It gives you both a chance to bond and try something new.
These tricks are relatively simple for dogs to learn, but it still may take a bit of time. Try to be patient and enjoy the process. Before you know it, your dog will be impressing all your friends and family.
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