Teaching your dog tricks can give you hours of entertainment and the wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your pooch. However, it can also seem daunting if you don’t know what you are doing.
In this post, James Wellbeloved provides teaching instructions on fun tricks suitable for novices. Learn how to teach your dog to roll over, shake hands, and even to spin around. These are a great start for your journey beyond the basics of dog training.
THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE STARTING
There are a few simple rules you need to follow when training your pooch.
First, no shouting. Remember that training is supposed to be a fun and relationship-building exercise for you and your dog. Shouting at them isn’t likely to build trust or be any fun for either of you. Furthermore, this negative reinforcement is often merely confusing for dogs and is therefore an ineffective way of training them.
Second, use plenty of rewards. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. Treats are a good way to do this, however remember they should only be a small portion of your dog’s daily diet. Try breaking these into small pieces, so that you can minimise the quantity of treats being given. Alternatively, you could try using a portion of their usual daily feed for reward – dogs are often happy to work for any kind of food.
Third, make sure there are no distractions. We all know that dogs can be a bit scatter-brained – you need to help maintain their focus by making the training environment as calm as possible. This means a large, indoor space, without other people, animals or noises. Once your dog has learned the trick in this environment, you can begin practicing it in other locations that have more distractions.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO ROLL OVER
The first trick in our guide is a relatively easy one to train, although you must ensure your dog knows the “lie down” command before starting. If they do, teach your dog how to roll over with the following steps:
- Get your dog to lie down
- Present a treat in your hand to your dog, with your fingers closed so they can’t take it. Hold it close to their nose so they can smell it
- Move the treat up and around your dog’s head, so that their nose follows. A dog’s nose leads, so their head and body should follow it in this circular motion, causing them to roll over
- As you are doing this, issue the command “roll over” in a clear and encouraging tone.
- Don’t expect that your dog will roll over all the way on the first attempt. Reward them with the treat and some praise as long as they are moving in the right direction, otherwise you risk frustrating them
- Repeat this several times each training session, scheduling several practices a day. Soon enough your dog will begin rolling over just at the command and sight of the treat, without you needing to perform your arm motion
- Once they start rolling over successfully every time you attempt the trick, you can begin to phase the treats out. Continue verbal praise every time your dog performs the trick, but only give treats occasionally, so that they learn not to expect the reward
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO SPIN AROUND
This trick is a staple for all dogs to master. Easy to learn, but also impressive to perform, this fun trick is something all dogs should learn to do. Teach your dog how to spin around with the following steps:
- First choose the direction you would like to teach your dog to spin. It is best to teach one way at a time, so you don’t confuse them.
- Get your dog’s attention with a treat.
- Hold the treat close to your dog’s nose, being careful not to let them take it.
- Slowly move the treat in a large circle in the direction you have chosen. Your dog ought to follow the treat, causing them to spin.
- As they finish the spin, issue the command “spin right/left,” depending on the direction you are teaching.
- Once they’ve successfully spun, praise your dog and give them the treat.
- When they are consistently spinning, start performing the trick with the treat gradually higher above your dog’s head.
- Once you can hold the treat approximately a foot above your dog’s head and they still spin at your command, try performing the trick without a treat in your hand. If they still perform the trick, praise and reward your dog.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO SHAKE HANDS
This adorable trick will enable you to show all your friends that you really are your dog’s best friend. It’s also very simple to teach.
- Show your dog a treat in your hand and then close your fist so they can’t take it
- Give the command “shake” and whilst holding your closed hand in front of them.
- Your dog should sniff and eventually start pawing at your hand to get the treat. If they don’t you can give their paw a nudge for encouragement
- As soon as they start pawing at your hand, open your fist and let them have the treat, whilst also praising verbally
- Repeat this a few times a day.
Once your dog has started responding to your command, you need to start phasing out the treat. To do this:
- Hold out your hand, but with no treat in
- Tell your dog “shake”
- As soon as they paw at your outstretched hand, give your dog a treat from the other. This will help to separate the action and the treat
- After a few practices like this, start giving the treat less frequently, although continue the verbal praise each time
Follow these simple steps and soon you won’t need treats to get your dog to shake your hand.
So, there we have James Wellbeloved’s fun tricks to teach your dog. These basic behaviours are a great place to begin your journey into dog training. Master these and soon you could be leading your pet through agility training or teaching them the most advanced tricks.