Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog
We all love our pets, but sometimes it can feel like your dog is incapable of learning tricks. While it may feel impossible at times, with the right techniques and proper practice, just about any dog can learn. Once you've mastered dog training basics—sit, down, come, stay—you can move on to the fun dog tricks.
A training clicker (or marker) is a tool that can make positive reinforcement training more efficient. After being repeatedly associated with a treat or reward, a clicker becomes a conditioned reinforcer. Learn how clicker training can help you better and more effectively communicate with your dog during training sessions.
Training a dog to kiss is one of the more straightforward tricks. While not everyone enjoys a big, wet dog smooch, this dog trick usually goes over well with kids. By putting a little treat on your cheek and adding the command, you'll soon be able to get all the affection you want from your dog… on demand! Another benefit of teaching your dog to kiss on cue is that it can help you prevent unwanted licking.
If your dog knows the “lie down” command, then playing dead should be easy.
All you need is a handful of tasty treats, and you are ready to start training your dog to play dead. This is a great trick to teach but be sure to have your clicker handy.
Start in a Down Position: Command your dog to lie down. (If your dog doesn't lie down on command yet, go back and master that before you begin training it to play dead.)
Offer a Treat: Hold a treat close to your dog's nose and slowly pull it over to its side so it will have to roll onto its side to get it. This step is a lot like teaching your dog to roll over. If your dog already knows this trick, it's ahead of the game.
Reward Listening: As soon as your dog is lying on its side, say "yes" or "good." Or click your clicker. Then, give the dog a treat. Repeat these steps several times.
Add a Signal: After your dog completes the roll a few times, add a cue word and a hand signal. Most people use the verbal command "bang" along with a hand signal command, holding their fingers to look like a gun pointing at the dog. Owners ask a funny question like, "Would you rather be a cat or be dead?" Whatever command you choose, say the phrase, show the dog your hand signal, then offer the treat on the floor beside the dog. Eventually, you will stop placing the treat on the floor and reward the dog after it "revives" instead.
Have you ever had your dog greet your friends by shaking hands (or paws, as the case may be)? This is an easy dog trick you can usually train a dog to do in a few short training sessions. Most dogs naturally like using their paws and will enjoy the positive attention they get when doing this trick.
Speak on Command
Training a dog to speak is fun and helps solve a common behavior problem. Dog trainers recommend using the 'speak' and 'quiet' commands to end excessive barking. Putting these in their skill set allows your dog to bark in certain situations and will enable you to have control over when the barking should start and stop. It's also a lot of fun to show off your dog's conversational skills at family gatherings!
Turn Off the Light
Stand next to a light switch that is easy for your dog to reach. Call your dog over and put him in a sit position. Hold a treat on the wall just an inch above the light switch. Tap it a few times against the wall as you encourage your dog to leap up with his front paws near the treat. Give him the treat and praise.
Repeat the above step a few times so your dog gets used to leaping up and touching the wall with his front paws. Now tap the light switch with one hand as you hold the treat in your closed hand just above the light switch. Use a word, such as "light," for your dog to associate with the action. Before long, your dog will be able to turn the light off on command.
Now that you’ve seen a small set of what can be easily accomplished in a relatively short time, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can now command your dog with these new tasks; your dog will be attentive and hopefully more responsive to your needs. Plus, it's great fun to train a dog some cool tricks to show off to friends!