How to Train Your Dog to Do Tricks

Carrie Pallardy
 
Why stop at the basics? Training your dog doesn’t have to end after you have mastered commands like sit, stay, and come. You and your dog can continue to work together to learn new commends to show off at the dog park or when guests come over.
 
Teaching your dog tricks can continue to strengthen the bond the two of you share. Plus, trick training provides your dog both mental and physical stimulation. What are some of the canine tricks you can teach your dog to perform?
 

Shake Hands

 
 
If you are looking to for the “aw factor” with your tricks, teaching your canine companion how to “shake hands” is a good place to start. Dogs often use their paws to try to get your attention, so the movement won’t be an unnatural one for them.
 
Like many other training exercises, it all starts with the treats. Place some tasty treats in a closed fist and let your dog smell your hand. Quietly wait while your dog investigates. Eventually, she will raise a paw to your hand. As soon as that happens, open your hand and offer the treat with a generous amount of praise.
 
Keep practicing this exchange, gradually increasing the amount of time your dog leaves his paw in your hand. Once he has the motion down, you can introduce a verbal cue like “shake” or “paw.” Keep up the training until your dog can reliably associate the command with the proper action.
 

Speak

While you don’t want your dog to constantly bark, but it is important to allow your dog to verbally communicate. If you’d like to direct your dog’s barking, you can focus on teaching her to “speak,” or bark on command. Bonus, you can pair the “speak” command with a “quiet” command to help your dog learn when it is time to stop barking.
 
Some dogs are naturally chatty, while others are more vocally reserved. For dogs who love to bark, you can start training anytime they decide to communicate. For quieter dogs, you may need to get them excited enough to bark. In either case, you’ll want to respond to a bark with a verbal command like “speak” and a treat. Try to avoid associating treats with frenzied barking that lasts for a long period. Instead, focus on a single bark. Once your dog is quiet again, you can use a treat and the “quiet” command. Like any training exercise, keep up the practice until your dog can reliably respond to your verbal cue.
 

Spin

Teaching your dog to spin is a fairly simple trick. Once again, break out your trusty treats. Offer a treat and gently guide your dog’s motion by moving the treat to the side. Following his nose, your dog will begin to move. Continue the circular motion until your dog completes a full circle. Offer up the treat and praise.
 
Over time, add the verbal cue of your choice, like “spin.” Keep up the treats and the praise so your dog learns what to do when you give the command.
 
Tricks delight dogs and owners alike. A well-trained dog is also easier to manage at vet visits and when dog walkers come to provide care while you are at work.
 
 
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