Make these colder months productive by teaching your dog a new trick for great mental stimulation and entertainment. Take advantage of the indoor time spent with your pooch by expanding their knowledge while bonding together. Try these three fun indoor tricks out with your canine:
1. Hide Your Eyes – The dog can sit or lay for this trick, which will train your pooch to cover their eyes with one paw on command. Keep a treat in your hand while you tell your pup to “cover their eyes”. Physically lift their paw over their muzzle and then use the treat as reward. Most dogs will swipe at their face when you gently blow on their nose, if your pooch does this then reward them and continue the command and movement until the dog understands what is required to acquire the treat.
2. Circle Me – This trick is beneficial considering that circles improve turns and help keep canines focused on their handler; it also assists in direction changing. Begin by heeling with a tasty dog treat in hand that you will use as bait as you say “circle me” and draw your pooch around your body in a circle. After they complete a circle, give the treat for praise and repeat.
3. Light Off – Hold a dog treat in one hand above a light switch in the house (if your dog isn’t able to reach the switch on hind legs then place them on a sturdy table under the switch), and give the command “light off”. When your furry friend jumps up to retrieve their treat, be sure their paws flick the switch and then reward with “Good light off” and then continue the trick over. Eventually start standing away but have your pooch stay under the switch and then toss the treat when the trick is completed.
Teaching your dog tricks isn’t only cute and fun; it’s also an excellent way to bond with your puppy and give him the one on one attention he craves. Once your pup has the basic obedience commands down, you can really branch out and get creative. The most important thing to remember is to make sure your dog is having fun. As long as he’s having fun, he will be willing to learn. If you give him lots of dog treats and praise he will learn that performing certain actions will get him rewards, and in turn will obey your commands. As with most all things, repetition is the key.
Teaching your dog to “Shake hands” or “Give paw” is a very simple trick to start with. All you have to do is have your dog sit. Once in the sitting position, take his paw in your hand. Hold his paw and say “Good Boy, Shake” (Or “Give paw” – you can use what ever phrase you want, but once you pick a command, stick with it!) Do this a few times every day and soon he will give you his paw on command.
“High Five” is very similar to “Shake”. Once your dog has “Shake” down, and willingly gives you his paw every time, you can move on to “High Five”. With this trick, you do the same thing you did for “Shake”. Have your dog sit and start with having your dog “Shake” a few times, raising your hand higher each time. Once your hand is high enough use the “High Five” command, and reward your dog every time he does it.
If your dog knows the “Down” command, you can teach him to “Crawl”. To teach this trick, start by having your dog lie down. Hold a treat just in front of his nose and say “Crawl”. If he starts to stand up, say “No, down… Crawl”. Pull the treat away, keeping it near the ground and say “Crawl”. When moves even an inch or so without standing up, praise him and give him treats, saying “Good boy, Crawl”.
The trick “Beg” can be a little difficult for some dogs. The sit up position can be hard for them to stay in. Be careful to never let your dog fall over back wards, or he could hurt his back. To get started with this trick, have your dog sit, facing you. Hold a treat just above his head and say “Beg” (You can also use “Sit Pretty” or “Say Please” – whatever works for you!) Your dog will probably lift his front feet off of the ground naturally, to reach the treat. As soon as his feet are lifted, even a little bit, give him the treat and shower him with praise. Each time you try this trick, make him wait a little longer, so he can practice his balance.
New tricks are fun for everyone- especially your dog! Dogs need a great deal of mental stimulation, and teaching your dog new commands is a perfect way to exercise his mind. Two of the most important factors in training are treats and praise – shower your dog with rewards when he obeys you and he will associate obeying you with good things. Try doing a short training session everyday, around 5 minutes. Always try to end on a high note- end sooner, rather then waiting for your dog to become uninterested. He will be more interested in training if his sessions end with him doing something well!
There is nothing more frustrating than a dog who just won’t listen to you. Rather than get angry when he chews up your couch or runs wild, why not try obedience training? Though this will not solve all of your behavior problems, it is a great first step to opening communication with your dog. He is not listening to you because he has no clue what you want him to do! Training allows you to successfully communicate your commands in a way that your dog will understand and comply with. Some people may think that training is difficult and best left to professionals who get paid a lot of money, but that is not true. The most basic and necessary commands are really quite simple and you can teach them in only 5-10 minutes a few times a week!
If you have a small puppy, the first thing you should teach him is his name. Once he knows his name, he will know that when he hears it he needs to pay attention to you. To teach this, you will need treats, a leash, and a collar. Put on his leash and dog collar and call his name in a happy and interesting voice. Puppies love to hear the sound of your voice and will naturally look at you when you speak. When he looks towards you, give him a dog treat and praise him. Repeat this a few times every day until he consistently looks towards you every time you call his name. Only use his name once and if he doesn’t respond, give a very gentle tug on his leash so that he will look at you, and then treat and praise.
Once your dog knows his name, the next step is to get him to come to you when called. This command is very important as it could some day save your dog from a life threatening situation. Once again, you will need your dog to be on his leash. While he is not paying attention to you, say his name followed by “come” in an excited tone and tap your legs or move backwards to get his attention. As soon as your dog comes to you, praise him lavishly. If he does not come, tug on the leash lightly to encourage him. Always keep your voice upbeat, making him think that coming to you is the most exciting thing in the world. Repeat this 5 or 6 times a few times a week, and gradually move to getting him to come to you with no leash on. With this trick, it’s better to use treats either sparingly or not at all. If you call your dog in an emergency situation and he sees that you have no treats, he may not come to you.
The sit command is perhaps the easiest one to teach, because dogs sit naturally. Also, once your dog knows to sit on command, it sets the ground work for other commands like “stay” and “down”. All you will need for this trick are treats. Get your dog’s attention and show him that you have a treat in your hand. Hold the dog treat just above your dog’s nose. Don’t hold it too high or he might just try to jump and get it. Say your dog’s name followed by the word “sit” in a firm tone. Move the treat back towards your dog’s ears. He will naturally look up to try to see the treat and this will make him sit down. As soon as his back end lands on the ground say “good sit” in an upbeat tone and give your dog a treat and lots of praise. Repeat this 5 or 6 times a few times a week. If your dog doesn’t sit, try to avoid pushing him into a sitting position or at least do it lightly. His hips can be damaged by too much force. You could try observing your dog and praise him whenever he naturally sits down, saying “good sit”.
Teaching your dog to lay down on command is almost as simple as “sit”. It’s a great way to get your dog to calm down when he is over excited or for when he has to remain in the stay command for a long period. You will need treats for this trick too. Get your dog’s attention and show him that you have a treat in your hand. Hold it in front of his nose. Say his name followed by the word “down” spoken clearly and firmly then slowly move the treat towards the ground. He will follow the treat down and as soon as he is lying, say “good down” in an upbeat tone, followed by treats and praise. Repeat 5 or 6 times a few times a week. If your dog doesn’t lay down on his own, resist pushing him down. Wait until he naturally lies down and then say “down” then praise and treat him.
The stay command is as important as coming when called- it can protect him from dangerous situations. It can also keep him still and calm when you take him in public, do housework, or have guests. A successful “stay” occurs when your dog doesn’t move at all from the original position. You will need his collar, leash, and treats for this trick too. With the leash on, tell your dog to sit. Give treats and praise once your dog sits, but keep them in the sitting position. Say your dog’s name followed by the word “stay” and hold your hand up, palm out (as if to motion stop) for 1-2 seconds. Say “good stay” in an upbeat tone and give your dog a treat. Release your dog from this command by saying “okay” and then encourage him to move. Instruct your dog to sit again and give the “stay” command again, but wait 2-3 seconds. If he stays, say “good stay” and give him a treat. If he moves, start over at 1-2 seconds again. Over time, gradually increase the time and once your dog has the concept of stay, increase the distance. Eventually you will be able to give the command and leave the room. Then you can try it with your dog lying down or with distractions.
These tricks aren’t really cute or fun, but they are a huge step towards teaching your dog to behave, and they are the cornerstone to more complicated tricks. Once your dog has these mastered, the others should be just as simple!