Fundamentals

Best easy-to-teach dog tricks

There are certain things that you can do if you want to ensure your dog’s brain stays sharp. Top among them would be teaching him/her dog tricks. In addition to the benefit of maintaining an active brain and the great bonding effect it will create between you and your doggie friend, you can also “wow” your human friends with them. But before we show you a few easy-to-teach dog tricks, it’s important that you bear in mind that your dog will learn better if you stay positive and adopt positive reinforcement as the main motivator for your dog. So here are some easy tricks to teach your dog…

The Army Crawl

Let’s start with something your dog already does naturally. All we have to do now is make him do it on command. If you have seen military trainees crawling on their elbows, you’ve got a good idea of this trick. Like we pointed out earlier, your dog already does this: That’s how he crawls under sofas and stuff like that. Apart from being a cool trick, it will also help your dog stay in better physical shape. So here’s how to teach it…

  • Ensure your dog is in the “down” position
  • With a treat in your hand, entice him with it and when he starts reaching for it, pull the treat away from him slowly. Don’t allow him to get to it
  • Continue this exercise in a straight line and keep moving backward slowly
  • Once he starts crawling in his attempt to get to the treat, give the command “crawl”. You can now give him the treat as a reward and show him affection
  • With subsequent practices, increase the distance you cover with the crawl albeit by small margins

If he does it wrong, don’t give him the treat as that would be reinforcing the wrong action. The same applies if he tries to snatch the treat from you. As you keep doing this several times daily, your dog will eventually make the connection and crawl when you give the command. At this point, you won’t need the treat to get him to do this trick.

High Five

Wouldn’t it be cool if you can get your dog to give you a high five? Yes, your canine pal can learn this simple trick. Here’s how to do it…

  • Ensure that your dog is sitting
  • Hold out a treat and make his attempt to touch it with his front paw
  • The moment he touches it with his paw gives the command “High Five” while simultaneously raising your own hand in the high five gesture. Now it’s time to reward him with the treat and show affection
  • Keep up this exercise repeatedly daily until your dog starts responding to the “high five” command without a treat. Some dogs won’t even need the “high five” command after a number of exercise sessions as all they will need to “high five” you would be your raised hand in the “high five” gesture

Playing the Piano

Do you have a piano and a dog who is willing to do anything to please you and get some treats? Then this is one trick you can teach him. You might have to train with a toy piano if yours is a small dog. For large dogs, a standardly sized piano is ideal. Here’s how to teach this trick…

  • Start by getting your dog to touch the piano wherever it is and with any part of its body (this doesn’t matter at first). Reward him once he achieves this
  • When your dog makes the connection that you want him to touch the piano, begin to pay close attention to how he touches it. Now you want him to touch it with his paws ONLY. Reward him every time he does this right. After some time, he’ll make the connection that you want him touching the piano with his paws
  • When he has mastered touching any part of the piano with his paws, you now want to make him touch the keyboard in particular with ONLY his paws. At this stage, he ONLY gets a reward when he touches the keyboard with his paws. Once he gets it right, give the command “play the piano” so he associates playing the piano with the verbal cue
  • Repeat this several times daily until he masters it

The Salute

How cool would it be if your doggie friend can treat you as the Commander-in-Chief and greet you with a salute at your command as you walk into the room with your friends? Here’s how to teach this trick (You’ll need a sticker or something similar to stick slightly above your dog’s eye)…

  • Ensure your dog is in the “sit” posture and place the sticker above his eye
  • Naturally, he’ll attempt to take it off with his paw. Once his paw touches the sticker, give the command: “salute” and give him a treat and show affection
  • Repeat this exercise a number of times daily until your dog starts performing the “salute” without a sticker.
    Important note: Using the sticker simply won’t work with some dogs. If your dog happens to be one of such dogs, you have an alternative: Hold his/her paw and raise it into the salute position and give the command: “salute”. With time (albeit much longer than the sticker option), your dog will come to understand what you want and perform this trick well

Jumping Through a Hoop

This dog trick is as old as we’ve had circuses. They’ve done it with a wild range of animals but we will just be happy to get your doggie friend to do it. While it might look like a tough trick, it’s actually a lot easier if you follow these simple steps correctly…

  • Take some time to let your dog get acquainted with the hoop. You know it’s a games tool; your dog doesn’t and might view it with a lot of suspicions – That would make this trick impossible to teach. Therefore, get him to touch it and reward him when he does
  • When he becomes comfortable with the hoop, we are ready to teach the trick: Get someone else to hold it (the hoop) upright without lifting it off the ground. Stand at the other side with your treatment and entice your dog with the treat. Once you are able to lure him to go through the hoop, give the command: “jump the hoop” or anything you prefer (just be consistent) — Reward him with the treat and show affection
  • Continue with the hoop on the ground for long enough for your dog to get used to going through it. Once he’s mastered that, raise it off the ground a little and have him go through it. As he does, say the command: “jump” or “jump the hoop” (just be consistent with one). Reward him with a treat and show affection
  • Stay at a low height until he’s mastered it and then keep increasing the hoop’s elevation slowly over time as your dog masters the previous height. With time, your dog will jump the hoop at a raised height while having great fun at it

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