When I was a kid, I remember being absolutely amazed anytime I saw a dog obeying commands and performing tricks. Whether on TV, Movies, or in person, I just thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and it always brought me such joy.
I promised myself that one day, I would have a dog of my own that would be able to follow my every command and perform lots of tricks.
Now that I am adult, I have fulfilled some of those childhood wishes. Along the way, what I learned is that in order for my dogs to learn some of the most difficult tricks, I had to begin with some of the easier ones and then build upon the foundation that those provided.
If you have to try teaching your dog any tricks, or your dog just simply has not learned many tricks, don’t worry! It’s never too late. You really can teach an old dog new tricks!
After raising two puppies and successfully teaching them many different tricks, I thought I would share with you a few simply and easy “secrets.”
Below is my guide on a few of the easiest tricks that you too can teach your dog:
1. “High Five” “Shake” or “Paw”
Have you ever imagined or wished that your precious, furry friend could give you a high five or shake your hand? To this day, I think this is probably one of the coolest tricks, and always a crowd pleaser.
In order to train your dog to do this trick, I recommend that you start them off with the most basic “sit” command. “Sit” is by far the easiest command to teach, and once they learn this one, it is only a matter of time, repetition and healthy treats before they learn to give up that paw!
Once your dog is in a seated position, all you have to do is hold a treat in the air in front of them and continuously repeat the command “Shake” “Paw” or “High Five.”
After you repeat the command a few times, simply reach out taking their paw in your hand and then reward them with a treat. As they are enjoying the treat, pet them and praise them enthusiastically. You can’t be animated enough while praising them! This will reinforce the behavior.
In no time at all, you will be receiving all the high-fives you can handle.
2. Jump Through Hoops!
The first time I saw a dog jump through a hoop on command, I was mesmerized. I thought this would be a difficult trick to master; however, when you break it down, it is actually quite easy!
Training your pup to jump through a hoop is just a matter of taking it one step at a time and practicing with consistency and repetition. It is also important to understand that for a dog, a hula hoop is a large object and for many dogs it can scare or intimidate them at first.
When teaching this trick, I recommend using a simple command like “jump” or “leap.” I personally like to use the word “hoop.”
To begin, you must first get your dog comfortable with the hula hoop so the first step is to start by placing the hula-hoop flat on the ground near your dog. At first, your dog will most likely be curious about the hoop and walk around sniffing it for a few seconds.
From there, I will typically place a couple of treats around the perimeter of the hoop and then one in the middle of the hoop. This will help remove some of curiosity and help them become comfortable with the object.
The next step is to hold the hoop in front of your dog with a treat on the floor on the opposite site of the hoop. As your dog crosses through the hoop to get to that yummy treat, repeat your desired command of “jump” “leap” or “hoop.”
As your dog gains confidence walking through the hoop, simply begin raising it off the ground a little higher each time, while repeating your command until they are actually having to jump through the hoop.
It’s ok if you pup doesn’t master this right away. In fact, it’s quite normal. It might take some time to get comfortable with a hula-hoop, but those treats are an amazing motivator!
You might not know this, but playing fetch is actually one of the easiest tricks to teach a dog. Why, you ask? Because, for many dog breeds, chasing is instinctive and an innate desire.
Now, I can’t lie to you. There are some dog breeds that will look at you like you are crazy after you throw their bone, toy or ball across the room or yard. They will tilt their head and look at you as if to say, “Ummmm excuse me, are you gonna get that?” If that sounds like your dog, you just have to give them a little motivation.
Many people make the mistake of trying to teach their dog to fetch by beginning with their bone, toy, or ball. While this might work for some, the more efficient and easier method is to utilize a very specific training tool.
For example, there are many toys and training tools sold in pet stores or on Amazon that have built-in slots for treats to be inserted. In my experience, these training tools are much more effective, efficient and just down right easier for training a dog to fetch.
Begin by allowing your dog to smell the toy with the treat inside while you hold an additional treat in your other hand. Once they get a whiff of that delicious snack, gently toss the toy a short distance away.
Once your dog has the toy, call them back to you while holding the other treat in front of you. If you are not a fan of utilizing treats, clickers, bells or your dog’s favorite toy will work as well.
Once you and you dog master this, you can begin working on a “drop” command. This teaches your dog to drop the item they fetched either on the floor in front of you or right in your hand.
The “drop” command takes a little more time and is a little more advanced, but you will get there!
Some people are not huge fans of their dogs barking at all and that’s ok, but if you are interested in teaching your dog to “speak,” or bark on command, it’s not nearly as hard as you may think.
There are numerous benefits to getting your dog to learn to speak. For example, teaching your dog to speak is also helpful in teaching the opposite “quiet” command. The “quiet” command can be used to help control your dog’s barking.
In addition to being fun and humorous, this trick is also very easy. Especially when you have the proper treats, or other rewards that your dog may want.
To begin, many dog trainers encourage the owners to play with their dog to the extent that they get so excited that they just can’t help themselves and begin to bark. Once you reach this point, simply show the dog you have their treat or reward and then hide it behind your back.
Just like when playing with a child, your dog will respond with a, “Hey! I saw that. Where did that treat go?”
When the dog barks, say your command such as “speak!” Say it multiple times so the dog understands the word. Once they bark again, reinforce the behavior with the chosen reward, and of course, lots and lots of enthusiastic praise!
Check Your Attitude
Just as your attitude matters every day when it comes to your own life, your attitude matters when it comes to training your dog. When you have a poor attitude or become easily frustrated while training your dog, it will negatively effect their ability to learn.
The best way to get the desired behaviors is to maintain a positive attitude and constant reassurance, and praise! I can’t stress this enough….be enthusiastic and overly animated when praising your dog. Give them lots of love, hugs, kisses and all the baby talk that the people around you can stand!
Half of the battle of training your dog comes from the dog, and the other half is driven by your attitude. Don’t forget that as you begin your journey!
Keep in mind, this is meant to be fun and should never be frustrating. If you find yourself becoming frustrated and feel that your dog just isn’t getting it, just resolve to try again tomorrow.
Spending this type of quality time with your pets is how animals and humans build strong connections and bonds. Be patient, and remember to show your pet all of the unconditional love that they show you.