Blog by Irene Hislop
Teaching your dog to do tricks is fun for both of you. It’s more than a cute way for your pup to show off. Dogs need mental stimulation. Learning tricks is a great way to provide it while also strengthening your bond.
Tricks are advanced dog training. Before you start, train your dog in basic obedience. They should be able to come when called, sit, stay/ wait and lie down before you worry about how to teach your dog a new trick. If you need help, reach out to local dog experts, and make sure you have plenty of healthy treats to encourage your pet's good behaviour.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ It’s untrue. Just like people, it takes time and effort for dogs to unlearn bad habits and to learn new things. But all dogs can learn new things – just ask anyone who has taken in an older rescue dog and taught them how to be part of a family and live in the house.
3 Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog
When picking a trick to teach, think about whether or not the movement is comfortable for your dog and whether you want your dog to do it. A little terrier might love to stand on its hind legs and dance, but if you have a Bernese Mountain Dog, do you really want it to do that? A spaniel can roll over comfortably on a rug or carpet, but a greyhound or whippet will be uncomfortable rolling over on a tile floor.
These three tricks are fun and comfortable for all types of dogs.
1. How to Teach Your Dog to Shake Hands (or High Five) – Once your dog sits on command, they can learn to shake or give a high five. Give the command to sit, and reward them with a treat when they do. Then say ‘shake’ or ‘high five’ and hold the treat in your hand. Your dog might instinctively paw your hand to get the treat. If they do, reward them with the treat and praise. Be patient waiting them to paw your hand, but if they don’t, move the treat toward their paw, then gently lift their paw slightly up and reward them.
2. How to Teach Your Dog to Take a Bow – The bow is a natural movement for dogs. It’s their invitation to play. Start with your dog standing, and hold the treat in front of their nose. Slowly lower it while saying ‘take a bow’, and they should follow it. When they are low enough, slowly raise the treat until they are standing normally again. Praise and reward them with the treat.
3. How to Teach Your Dog to Play Hide and Seek – This game is great mental stimulation for your dog. Command your dog to sit and stay, then hide nearby. After a moment, call them. When they find you, reward them. Keep it very easy at first and gradually move further away to harder hiding spots.
The trick to teaching your dog is to keep sessions to ten or 15 minutes maximum and make them fun. Dogs learn through repetition and positive reinforcement. Using healthy, low-calorie treats such as Leader’s Train Me line allows you to reward them frequently without worry. Always end training sessions on a high note so your dog looks forward to the next one.