Your dog probably already knows – come, sit, stay, and lay down. So you’re done with the basics and are ready for something interesting, something new to show off at the dog park or to your friends when they come over.
Tricks are not only that are a great way to offer your dog some mental stimulation, many of them build from the basic commands your dog already knows.
Here are some dog tricks that are fun and fairly easy to train a dog to do:
Training a dog to wave hello or good-bye is a fun and fairly simple dog trick. Start by training your dog to shake paws. You will use the same action your dog uses to shake to train him to lift his paw to wave. You will do it the first few time for him then he will catch on with some treat incentives.
a. Give your dog the command to “shake”. When he lifts his paw to shake your hand, move your hand up slightly so he has to move his paw up a bit to get to your hand.
b. When your dog moves his paw up farther than he would to shake, or tell him “good ” and give him a treat.
c. Repeat this action a few times, each time moving your hand up a little higher until your dog is raising his paw above his head.
d. Once your dog has been putting his paw up several times in a row, give the command “shake,” and as soon as your dog starts reaching his paw out to you, give the command “wave” (or you can use the command “say hello” or “wave bye”) and again follow steps 2-4.
e. Repeat this several times until your dog is consistently raising his paw to wave position. After a number of repetitions, stop using the shake command, and only give the command “wave.”
f. Practice the wave command for a few minutes at time, two or three times each day. Your dog will quickly impress your friends as he greets them with a wave hello!
2. Back it Up
Back it up is a fun dog trick that can be turned into a dance move later on (if you teach him to wiggle his butt) and it can come in handy in a variety of situations. Once your dog knows how to back up on command, you can use it to keep him from rushing out the door, crowding you at the refrigerator, or just to entertain your friends.
Back up is fairly simple to teach a dog.
a. Start by holding the leash very loose and give your dog the command to stand and stay.
b. Walk a few steps away from your dog then turn and face him
c. Start walking toward your dog and say “back it up”
d. If he naturally backs up as you are saying it reward him
e. If your dog doesn’t start stepping back as you move toward him, keep going forward, and try to lean your body forward slightly.
3. Take a Bow or Downward Dog
Your dog might do this naturally in the morning when he first wakes up. If you watch two dogs playing together, you will frequently see them bow. Trainers refer to this behavior as a play bow, and it is a dog’s way of asking another dog to come play. He will put his chest to the ground while keeping his rear end up in the air. To teach this:
a. Start with standing position. It is helpful if your dog know stand or stay command.
b. Hold a treat at the tip of your dog’s nose, and slowly move it down, holding it close to your dog’s body. In this way, you will use the treat to lure your dog down until his elbows are on the floor with his rear end remaining up.
c. Hold your dog in the bow for a few seconds, and then use the treat to lure him back into a standing position.
d. As soon as your dog completes the bow and is standing up, tell him “good” or click your clicker, and give him the treat.
e. Practice the bow command with your dog several times a day for no more than 5 minutes each time. Before you know it, your dog will be taking a bow on command.
4. Go Potty
Teaching your dog to go potty on command can relieve you from the stress of wondering when your dog will have to potty again. It makes leaving your dog at home, traveling in a car and taking your dog friend homes much easier.
a. Pick the word you’re going to use that will mean “go pee” to your dog. You could use the classic “go potty”, and then say it consistently.
b. Figure out when your dog most predictably goes to the bathroom. The three big pee motivators are: waking from a nap or sleep, playing, and drinking. What goes in must come out and by setting a schedule for your dog you can predict when he/she will need to go. Knowing that your dog needs to go to the bathroom is key in capturing the behavior.
c. When your dog needs to eliminate, leash him/her up and relocate to your designated UGODOG potty spot. If you have any fear that your dog might go before you get the UGODOG, pick him up and carry him there (if you can)
d. Wait for your dog to go. Give him no attention as you pace quietly back and forth by the pee spot. When he squats or lifts his leg wait, for him to finish. As he’s finishing happily say your cue word “GO POTTY!” When he is done, give a marker (a verbal “Yes!” or the click of a clicker), then lavish him with praise and something really yummy.
e. After a week or two give the cue “go potty!” just before the pee happens but still wait to “Yes” or click until after he’s completely finished. (Otherwise, your marker might distract him from finishing his business midway.)
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