Sure you may not want a circus dog, but teaching your pup a few new tricks can be really fun for you and rewarding for your dog. Helping and coaching your dog to performing these tricks can be a great playtime bonding activity. Once your dog has learned his first trick, he will be beaming with confidence and want to learn more. Don’t be surprised if your dog turns into a little show off in the process!
There are a lot of dog tricks that you can work on with your pup, but the basics are:
- Playing Dead
You will find it easier to teach your dog tricks if they know their basic obedience commands:
- Leave It
Teaching your dog tricks can be a great alternative to playing fetch. Sometimes you want to do something different a mix it up a little bit. You can also use tricks to substitute bad behavior and habits that your dog might have learned. For example, if your dog is a front door runner, you can tell him to shake when someone comes through the front door. Your dog will be so excited to get to shake with the person at the door he won’t want to bolt.
If you come across a child, or even an adult, that is fearful of your dog, you can try and have your dog perform a cute trick such as taking a bow. Your dog will seem less threatening and more interesting after the trick.
When you begin teaching your dog new tricks you will want to keep your training sessions short and fun. Tricks are a form of doggie entertainment, and you do not want to make it seem like work. Once your dog has mastered one trick, you can move onto the next. Don’t move too quickly through as dogs rely on repetition to learn.
You do not need any special tools in order to teach your dog a trick. Just load yourself up with a few of your dog’s favorite treat and you are ready to begin.
If you do want to try some of the training tools on the market, I suggest you look at target sticks. They are widely available online or at your local pet store. Target sticks help to guide your dog into the position that you want them to be in. I like to use the target sticks, so I can avoid pulling my dogs around by their collars to get them where I want them to be. I find it a more controlled atmosphere for learning and teaching.
You can also try a clicker. Clicker training teaches your dog to repeat behaviors that lead to rewards. The clicker has an easy-to-press button that makes a distinct sound when pressed. To reward your dog for doing a good job, click the button and give your pet a treat, so he will learn to associate that action with a reward.
There are a few important items to keep in mind before you start your trick training:
- Make sure to teach your dog the action of the trick first, before you attach the command word to the trick. This is the same for obedience training.
- If your dog seems very uncomfortable with a trick, and you have been working on it for a few days, consider skipping this trick for now and moving on. You do not want to flip flop back and forth but occasionally a dog just has trouble with one set of movements. One of our old beagles, Sammy, use to have a lot of trouble with balancing when he was trying to beg.
- Do not try and train your dog on a trick that might interfere with a specific health problem. If your dog has back problems, then a trick such as rolling over might be too difficult. Test your dog and recognize his limits.
- Ensure that your training sessions are done without outside distractions and do not run for too long.
- Praise and reward your pup for performing what you asked of him. Do not punish him for not doing the trick correctly. Just keep working on it.
Dog trick training can be a fun and rewarding experience for you and for your dog. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you enjoy this bonding experience with man’s best friend.