Keep your dog busy and happy by teaching him a fun trick or two (or even more). While this may sound surprising, your dog loves mental stimulation just as he adores being engaged physically.
Having a few trick training sessions not just reinforces your connection with your dog, but also teaches him to be obedient while having fun!
Teaching an easy dog trick to your pet can sometimes seem impossible since not all dogs are that open to learning. If you're a pet parent that's having a problem with dog tricks, then this blog post is for you.
Besides walking you through some simple and practical points on proper dog training, I will also give you the lowdown on a few cool tricks for your dog as we go along. How about we kick off our discussion on dog tricks by going over the basic principles you should keep in mind?
Basic Principles: How to Teach your Dog New Tricks
Whether you're gearing up to teach your dog basic commands like staying in a sit position or stand position, shake paws and take a bow or perhaps more intricate tricks like doing an army crawl and automatically walk backward, there are some essential principles to keep in mind.
The following are the key principles that you should have in your checklist when teaching your dog tricks. These principles won't just help boost your chances of success when training your pooch to master a dog trick, but also make the whole thing fun and exciting for your fur baby.
Dog Tricks Principle #1: Positive reinforcement
A dog understands and learns a new trick by making connections. By associating his behavior with something positive, a dog masters something regardless if they are deemed as the easiest tricks or the most technical ones.
Any action that your dog does naturally can be rewarded with a tasty treat, his favorite toy, or simply positive reinforcement through good words and appreciative gestures. It is also important that you have a "voice" or "tone" specifically just to teach your dog tricks.
My dog, Kiwi, for example, does his business on command. I taught him how to follow a verbal command and then reward him with a dog treat to let him know he did a great job. It's also important to keep your dog treat close to you at all times for easy access!
Dog Tricks Principle #2: Patience
Unlike what a lot of dog owners mistakenly believe, you don't have to spend a very long time to teach your dog tricks. Training your dog to master a great trick is all about keeping the whole thing fun! This is the biggest reason why you have to be very patient when you spend time training your dog even the easiest tricks.
I highly suggest that you keep your training sessions short, be persistent with your verbal cue and remember not to rush the whole thing. It's even more productive to have your dog training a bit slower than giving your canine companion a tedious time mastering tricks to teach in a short period!
Besides making it easier for you to maintain your pet's focus, a dog learns and understands better when he's having fun. When you teach dogs fun tricks, "fun" should be the operative word and it must not be dull and grueling in his perspective.
It's not uncommon that your pet will not do exactly what you ask when you're training him to master dog tricks. Don’t be discouraged. It’s important to go step by step and reward each improvement. Believe me, most dogs are really stubborn when learning dog tricks and you're not alone.
Dog Tricks Principle #3: Consistency
Your dog makes progress learning a fun trick like shake paws, walking backward, play dead, take a bow or make a complete circle with a wave of your hand by being consistent. Interestingly, a dog understands better when you repeat something over and over.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, teaching your pooch a dog trick is not something that is instantaneous. Most dogs will need a bit to time to really pick up basic commands regardless of breed or pedigree. Even a simple dog trick like staying in a sitting position will not be automatic. You will have to teach your dog in a consistent manner to achieve positive results.
Moreover, assigning a command word when you teach your dog a trick is really important. And this command word must be the same for every dog trick. Using a specific word to signal good behavior, such as preventing excessive barking and encouraging impulse control, is also a good idea during dog training.
For example, I personally use "yes" when Kiwi successfully does a paw shake and "great" when he manages to hold a tennis ball in his mouth when we're playing fetch. Of course, I always tell Kiwi what a good dog he is and surprise him with a small treat just to remind him that he's doing an amazing job.
Signs That Your Dog Is Ready And Eager To Learn New Tricks
I'd just like to correct the wrong notion that there is an age limit when it comes to teaching your dog tricks. Whether you have a new dog or a senior pooch, it's not impossible to teach him a trick or two.
Interestingly, it really doesn't matter if a dog reaches a certain age because he will be always up for learning new stuff, whether it's easy tricks or more complex ones like play dead, balance stuff while standing on hind legs or using a hula hoop.
I will now go over the signs that your dog is very receptive to update his checklist with other tricks. And like I emphasized earlier, remember that it doesn't make a difference if a dog turns a few months old or is already an older pooch.
A dog is at his most energetic state in the morning.
In my experience, teaching your dog tricks will be easier and more favorable for you when your pet still has a very high energy level. And the best time for this is when your dog just woke up in the morning.
Do you notice how your dog automatically lifts his paws or moves his body when he's looking to find out what's for breakfast? You can take advantage of this energy level by teaching your pet a dog trick before he has his morning meal.
I recommend teaching your dog to be more flexible with his hind legs, keep either a standing position or sitting position longer, as well as walk in a straight line. There are so many easy tricks that you can choose from.
Use playtime as training time when teaching your dog tricks.
Your dog will drop very obvious hints when he's in the mood for play. A dog raises and wags his tail or perhaps will wiggle around while in a lying position. On top of that, a dog makes excited sounds like quick yaps or vigorously shaking his rear end.
And playtime is one of the best times to teach a dog trick since your pet is already in agile mode. A simple trick you can teach during playtime is shaking hands, do an army crawl or take a bow. This is one way of teaching your dog impulse control, too, since you're also getting rid of excessive levels of energy while at it.
Additionally, when your dog has already mellowed quite a bit, you can also integrate a verbal command to keep him in a standing position, play dead or sit pretty. You can even teach him to shift to a down position when you tap your dog's nose! Just remember to limit to one dog trick at a time to avoid making your pet feel that your training is already tedious.
Slip in a dog trick before bedtime.
If your pet is anything like other dogs, it's highly likely that he's still quite active when he's supposed to be in bed already. You can turn this into a positive thing by teaching your dog a trick to get him drowsy while engaging him physically and mentally at the same time.
Keep in mind to choose a trick that's pretty chill for this approach. Aside from teaching your dog to take a bow and shake hands, you can also train him to be more familiar with his surroundings like his bed and play area. I highly suggest this one when you have a new dog that still isn't housebroken.
Basic tricks that are simple and easy to teach your dog:
It's important to start with the basics when it comes to dog training. Going straight to a technical dog trick is just going to end up dull and tedious for both you and your pet. These simple and practical pointers will help you achieve this goal.
Considered as the most basic trick among dogs, teaching your pet to sit should definitely be on your checklist. However, don't underestimate this trick because some dogs will need a bit of coaxing to pull this off.
To encourage your pet to get in a down position, place a treat over your dog's nose and gently move your hand towards his backside. He will instinctively sit down. It’s at this exact moment that you will say your keyword like "yes" or "good," then give him your reward. Don't forget to introduce your verbal command at the very beginning of its execution.
A quick reminder, though. It is important not to force the behavior by pressing on the rump of your pet or putting too much pressure on your dog's nose to get him into a sitting position. He will just look at this in a negative way.
Once "sit" is mastered, we move to "lay down." When the dog is seated, show him a treat in front of his nose and gently move your hand towards the ground. Reward him when he begins to slide willingly.
If your dog does not slide completely, reward him in stages. Every step of progress toward what you expect of him must be rewarded in order for him to understand your intention. Remember to be always consistent with your voice or tone to keep your dog in focus.
Once you’ve got “lay down" sorted, work on his patience. Reward your dog when he lays down, but also when he stays down. Make your dog wait for his treat and slowly increase this waiting period.
When you've got this one already covered, give the command "stay" and move away little by little before giving him the treat. Slowly increase the distance and the distractions. You can even motivate your pet more by holding a treat close to your dog's nose.
It's crucial that you teach this dog trick in a place without distractions like your backyard. Put your dog on a leash and start walking near a wall or fence so that you leave little space for your pet. As you walk, reward your dog with a treat or words of appreciation when he is focused on you and does not pull on the leash.
If he pulls, make him sit until he calms down. I know, this is easier said than done, but like I said earlier, patience is key in training! With a lot of work, you can associate this behavior with the "heel" command. With regular practice, it is even possible that your dog will walk by your side even without a leash.
This trick can save lives if a dog snatches a dangerous item or food. When your dog has his toy in his mouth, bring a treat to the level of his snout. If it is attractive enough, he will drop the object.
As your dog opens his mouth, give the voice command and then his reward. Take possession of the object and repeat. You can also gently restrain his other paw if he's got the thing in one paw. You can even use this as an opportunity to teach your dog to shake hands!
The mistake we often make when a dog runs away is to shout his name several times and keep repeating the same until he obeys. This is often observed in households with new dogs. If you know that your dog is too distracted in a certain situation, do not use this voice command so as not to spoil it.
We don’t want your dog (regardless if it's a new dog or a senior pooch) to realize that he has the right to ignore this command. You have to first work on this command in a place without distraction and reward your dog whenever he comes to you over short distances.
When your dog starts to approach, say your command and reward him the moment he comes over to you. You can then gradually increase the distance to ultimately get your dog to respond to this command in an environment that is very exciting for him.
Cool, Unique and Fun Tricks to Teach your Dog
While the basics of obedience are important, having fun with your dog is also a priority when it comes to training. It's time to have a little fun with some unusual tricks! You and your dog are sure going to enjoy the following:
Speak (have your dog treat ready, too)
Find out what usually causes your dog to bark and use it to induce this behavior. As soon as your dog barks, say "yes!" or some other trigger word and then reward him. After a few tries, ask your dog to "speak" while using the trigger word in order for him to create the association. With constant practice and motivation, you will be able to get your dog to bark on command!
Hug (one of the starter tricks to teach puppies)
Sit on your knees or on the floor with a treat in your hand. Have your dog approach you by showing it to him and then bring it up behind your neck. Your dog will place his head on your shoulder trying to reach the treat. Release the treat when he leans his head on you and congratulate him. Then integrate the voice command for his retention.
Target (anything can be a target, including your dog's nose)
Teach your dog to put his nose on an object of your choice. Always keep the same object for training because consistency is key. Personally, I taught this trick to my dog using my open hand.
I placed my open hand close to him and each time that he approached, I gave him a treat. Once he touched my hand with his nose, I rewarded him even more and congratulated him with great enthusiasm. To speed up the process, you can make the dog touch your hand by hiding a treat between your fingers for extra motivation.
Hands up! (a fun trick I really love!)
I taught this trick to my dog in the following way: while he was sitting, I placed a treat near his nose and brought it over his head. I kept a reasonable distance so that he did not have to jump to reach it, but still had to lift his front legs.
Once in this position, I rewarded him. He eventually understood and I then associated this behavior with the voice command “Hands up!” After achieving this, I increased the difficulty by gradually moving away, so that the treat was no longer right over his head.
Teach your dog to yawn on command by congratulating him every time that he yawns! Once he has finished yawning, reward him with a treat. When he begins to repeat this behavior, associate it with the "Tired?" command when he starts to yawn.
When your dog has mastered the "lay down" command, increase the difficulty by asking him to crawl forward in this position. Place a treat in your hand and put it near his snout close to the ground. Slowly drag it toward you to encourage him to follow.
If he moves forward, even a little bit, give him the reward. Slowly increase the distance. If he gets up, ignore and start again.
A Final Word
In training, always put your dog in a successful situation. Aim for small goals and avoid frustrations! Some dogs look for drugs at airports, others find people in avalanches and some guide people who are blind. With a little imagination, you can teach unimaginable tricks to your dog!
It's crucial to remember that keeping your dog in tiptop shape is a must when you're teaching him tricks. One way to do this is by having a reliable natural support product like IMMUNOPET in your home pet care checklist.
Besides containing many premium natural ingredients that support the immune system, IMMUNOPET also works to improve white blood cell count thereby equipping the body to fight against numerous types of bacterial and viral infections.
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