Raise your hand if you’ve ever given your pooch a treat “just because.” We all do it, and there’s nothing wrong with that; sometimes our dogs are just so darn cute, we have to reward them for it. But making your pooch work for their Good Dog Tokens can help build your bond with them and provide them with much-needed mental stimulation.
Here are some easy tricks you can teach your pooch in addition to “Sit” to impress your friends and neighbours, keep your pooch thinking, and enjoy some quality one-on-one time together.
Hold a treat out to your pooch in a closed fist. When they paw at it, say “Paw,” unroll your fingers, and let them take the treat. After enough repetition, your pooch will know to give you their paw even if there’s no treat in your hand.
Once they’ve mastered “Paw,” it’s easy to take the trick to the next level with “Shake” by holding your pooch’s paw when they give it to you and shaking it up and down.
Have your pooch sit. Hold a treat above their nose — just far enough away that they’ll have to reach up for it — and tell them to “Beg.” As they stretch upward to take the treat, slowly raise it higher until their front paws are off the floor, even if it’s only a little bit. (That doesn’t mean jumping up for the treat, but holding their paws in a raised position, however briefly.) Reward them with the treat.
Gradually raise the treat higher until your pooch has learned to sit back and balance on their haunches while their body is upright and their paws are raised. Have them hold the position for a second or two before rewarding them.
Hold a treat in front of your pooch’s nose and slowly move it in a circular direction to get them to follow it. It may take some time, but eventually, you’ll be able to lead your pooch into a full spin. Once they’ve gotten the hang of it, you can remove the treat and simply move your hand in a spinning motion to cue the trick.
Hold a treat in front of your pooch’s nose. When they sniff at it, gradually lower it to the ground. As their head follows the treat, slowly slide your hand along the ground and away from them to coax their body into a downward position. When they’re fully laying on the ground on their belly, say “Down” and reward them with the treat.
5. Roll Over
This trick’s a bit — well, trickier — but if you’re patient, your pooch will catch on.
First, have your pooch lie down on their stomach. (If you haven’t mastered “Down” yet, do that first.) Hold a treat by their nose, then slowly move it up and around their head in the direction you want them to roll over, saying “Roll Over” while you do it. After enough tries, your pooch’s body should follow their head and roll over. If they’re having trouble, it’s OK to guide their body with a gentle push to show them what you want them to do.
To teach your pooch to speak, all you have to do is wait. Have your dog sit, hold a treat in your hand, and then simply look at them. They may sit in silence for a while with a puzzled look on their face, or they may whine, paw, or start running through all the other tricks they know in the hopes of doing whatever it is that you want them to do. Eventually, they’ll get frustrated by your lack of instruction and bark. As soon as they bark, say “Speak” and toss them the treat.
Repeat this until your pooch has learned to associate “Speak” with barking. A nice perk of this trick is that teaching your pooch to bark on command can help them understand they should only bark when you ask them to.
Keep It Fun
Some dogs pick up tricks in a matter of minutes; others take days of repetition. Be patient and trust that your pooch will eventually get it. Getting frustrated or impatient will only set you back, so make sure to keep things light and fun, and if your pooch starts to show signs of boredom or annoyance, call it quits for the day and try again tomorrow.