Teaching your dog basic commands helps to keep them safe and gives you better control of your pet. Sometimes, however, training can become boring for you and your dog. Most canines enjoy learning new things, and teaching him tricks he can learn quickly is a great way to mix things up. It also helps to reinforce commands he already knows and makes training more fun for both of you.
Keep training sessions short – 10 minutes max – and reward each success with treats and praise. Encouragement is key in helping your pet learn, and even good attempts to try to do what you ask should be rewarded with honest praise.
Spin Around – Hold a CANIDAE treat in front of your face to get your dog’s attention. Stand still and say “spin.” Move your hand with the treat slowly around so your dog can follow it. When he makes a complete circle, reward immediately with treat and praise. You can also teach him to stand on his back legs and spin around. Hold the treat above his head until he’s standing on his back legs, say “spin,” and move the treat for him to follow.
Roll Over – Ask your dog to sit, hold a treat next to the floor to get him to lie down. Say “roll over” and push him on his side, then slowly move the treat around in a circle to get him to roll over. Treat immediately when he does it.
Back Up – Have your dog stand in front of you. Say “back up” and step towards him. As you move closer to him, he will move backwards. When he does, ask him to sit, then give a reward and praise. This is a good command for dogs to know. It helps you move him away from something you don’t want him to have or move an overly friendly dog away from guests.
Shake/High Five – Hold out your hand and say “shake.” You might have to prod your pet by picking up one of his front legs. Praise and give a treat. If your dog uses his paws to get your attention, you’re half way there. When he puts his paw on your leg or arm, say “shake” and take his paw in your hand. To teach “high five,” hold your hand up. Take his paw and touch it on your hand. Give praise and reward.
Wave – This is like high five, except you don’t have him touch your hand. Say “wave” and when he holds his paw up, give a treat and praise. To begin, you will probably have to hold his paw up to help him understand what you want him to do.
Bow – Every dog gives a play bow to indicate he wants to play. Begin playing with your dog, and watch to see if he gives you a bow. If he does, say “bow” and reward immediately. Some dogs can learn by watching you. Get on your knees and mimic a play bow by lowering your head close to the floor with your arms stretched out in front and your behind up. Say “bow” and reward your pup if he copies you.
Learning Names – Before you can teach him to bring things to you, he needs to know the name of different objects. It will probably take a little longer for him to learn names. Put a box of Kleenex on the floor, pull one out and say “tissue.” Have him touch it with his paw. Do this for any object or person. Be consistent and practice.
Take It – Have him sit, and put one of his favorite toys on the ground. When he picks it up in his mouth, say “take it.” Treat and praise immediately. This one might also take a little longer to learn. Stay consistent and practice until he gets the idea.
Bring It – Have your dog pick up a toy, ball or other object and say “bring the toy, ball, etc.” and encourage him to walk towards you. Treat for coming all the way or just a few steps. When he understands the names of objects and the “bring it” command, you can teach him to fetch you a Kleenex, your slippers, his leash, the newspaper and anything else you’d like.
Jump Over a Stick – Put the stick on the ground and let your dog approach it. Give him a chance to become familiar with it. Leave the stick on the ground and encourage him to jump over it, saying “leap” as he does it. Raise it a little at a time once he understands the command.
Top photo by Dan Bennett
Middle photo by Tom Newby
Bottom photo by theilr
Read more articles by Linda Cole