3 Quick + Easy Tricks To Teach Your Dog
Have you ever watched in awe as the pros at Crufts (or even on shows like Britain’s Got Talent) do incredible tricks with their dogs?
Would you love to have a trick or two up your sleeve, but you aren’t sure where to start?
We’ve got you covered!
With practice and patience, we believe no dog is too old (or big or small) to learn new tricks.
Dogs love to learn tricks because they get lots of positive attention (and usually a few treats too) and it’s a great way to boost their confidence and the bond you share.
Take a bow
This is one of the easiest ones to teach dogs that are new to doing tricks - and it comes with the added benefit of being a real crowd pleaser!
Chelsea says: ‘You’ll want to have a couple of high value treats (like these) with you for this one. I also recommend using a clicker.
‘Start with your dog standing on all four paws in front of you. Show them the treat by holding it near to the tip of their nose.
‘Give the verbal command ‘bow’ as you lower the treat towards the floor, keeping it close to your dog’s body.
‘As your dog lowers its body to the floor, you can click and treat.
‘If your dog tends to lie all the way down (rather than keeping its rear in the air), you can stand at their side and use one arm to support their tummy as you lower the treat.
‘The bow is complete when your dog goes back to standing so once your dog has got the hang of lowering to the floor, wait until they are back standing before you click and treat.
‘You can also work on replacing the verbal cue ‘bow’ with just a gesture of lowering your hand - but master the basics first, and take your time!’
This is a great trick for teaching your dog to be more body aware and to think about the placement of their back feet. Walking backwards can often be more challenging than it sounds for dogs so this trick will need to be built up step by step (literally!).
Chelsea says: ‘Have your dog stood just in front of you. Then, hold a treat at their head height and take a step into them. As you do this, your dog should shift their weight back or maybe even take a step back. When they do, click and reward.
‘Keep rewarding this shift back a handful of times and if possible try and ensure they go back straight opposed to stepping out to the side. My top tips for this are to keep the treat in line with their head, and to use a channel if needed (I’ve used a wall and the back of my sofa for this, which works well).
Next, try taking two steps and see if your dog will back up further. Be sure to reward this each time.
‘Once your dog is doing 2-3 steps reliably each time you can start adding in a verbal cue. We use 'back' but 'reverse' works well too.
‘Over time you can fade out the treat lure and increase the distance too.’
This is an impressive trick that can be easily matched to your dog’s ability. If you are just starting out with trick training, focus on the front feet, but if your dog is more advanced try back feet.
Chelsea says: ‘Before you start, find something to use as a target. This can be anything from a small cushion to an upside down bucket. The size of your target will affect the difficulty so go for something with a larger surface area to start.
‘Get your dog in a room with no distractions, have a selection of bite sized treats and a clicker (we have a handy bundle that contains both).
‘The next steps are done using a technique known as 'shaping', which basically means waiting for your dog to try something rather than luring or bribing them.
‘Call your dog to you and when they come over place the target on the floor. Remain silent and wait for your dog to investigate.
‘To begin with your dog will probably glance at or sniff the target item. The moment they do, click and reward. If you’re not using a clicker a quick ‘yes!’ followed by a treat will work.
‘Your dog will probably repeat the behaviour and you can reward it again a couple more times.
‘As your next step, don’t reward the second they glance at the target. Instead, wait and see if they try something else to get a reward.
‘Remember, the idea is for your dog to work this out for themselves, so if possible try and avoid helping them. If they are really struggling, silently pick the target up and place it back down again. Then wait again without verbally encouraging them.
‘At this stage, most dogs will paw at or place a foot on the target. When they do, mark with a click or verbal marker word and reward.
‘Continue practising this until eventually your dog offers both paws on the item (most dogs will do this quite quickly).
‘Once you have mastered basic foot targeting, you can mix things up by using different sized and textured targets. Try shaping back foot targeting too.’