Teaching your dog new tricks is an essential part of being a pet parent. Tricks can help your new dog develop control over impulses and stay stimulated mentally and physically.
Dog training helps your canine companion develop skills, improve behavior, and boost knowledge. When a dog understands a command and can do it consistently, they will behave much better around other dogs and humans.
Here are 12 of the easiest tricks to teach most dogs for better behavior.
"Sit" is one of the easiest tricks every pet owner should teach their dog. The “sit” command is the starting point for most dog tricks.
Once your pet has perfected "sit," they will have an easier time learning other tricks. Teaching your dog to "sit pretty" is a fun trick to entertain your friends and family.
How to teach your dog to sit
Lure with a high-value treat. To train your dog to sit, hold a dog treat close to your dog's nose while they are standing. Slowly lift the treat over their head towards their rear end. This will lead your dog into a natural sitting position as their nose follows the treat.
Add the command. As soon as your dog sits, say the command "sit," reward them with a treat, and encourage your dog with words like “yes” and "good." Repeat this process until your pet sits with the verbal command.
Teaching your dog to "stay" is one of the most basic tricks to teach your dog. You can use this command to keep your dog close by or to prevent them from approaching people or other animals.
The "stay" command helps your dog's impulse control as a young pup. As your dog grows and gets older, they will retain the trick.
How to teach your dog to stay
Start with "sit." To teach your dog to "stay," start with your dog in a standing position. Use the command "sit" to get them into a sitting position. Once your dog sits, reward them with a treat and encouragement.
Add the command. While your dog is seated, say the verbal cue "stay." Wait a few seconds. If your dog is still seated and has not moved, say their release word and reward them.
Increase the duration. Repeat this process with longer pauses between the command and the reward. After your dog associates the action of staying put with the command, try giving the command and walking further away from your pet.
Release and repeat. As your dog masters this trick, you can increase the duration, add distractions, or try leaving the room for an extra challenge.
Expert dog trainers often use release words to let dogs out of a command. Introduce a release word to tell your dog they are finished with the trick. Common release words for dog tricks include:
Your release word can be whatever you want. Be sure to practice the full "stay" command until your dog perfects it. Then, introduce the release word. Repeat this process until your dog stays put until you say their release word.
Teaching your dog to come when they are called is a great trick for dog training. It can be extremely stressful if your pup runs off and you can't get them to come back.
The "come" or "here" command can keep your dog safe in dangerous situations. If a dangerous animal or another dog is approaching your pet, you can use the "come" command to get them away from the potential danger.
Plus, if your dog can perfect this easy dog trick, you'll be less stressed while your dog is off-leash. They'll be able to explore, sniff around, and come back to you when it's time.
How to teach your dog to come when called
Give them some space. To teach your pet to come when called, start by standing a few yards away from your pet.
Add the command. Say your dog's name, and the command "come" or "here." As your pet starts moving toward you, give positive reinforcement by cheering or saying "good dog!"
Reward, reset, repeat. When your dog reaches you, reward them with a treat. Give them extra pets, pats, and rubs to let them know they did a great job. Say your pet's release word and wait a few moments before practicing again.
4. Leave it
The command "leave it" is meant to train your dog to automatically leave items on the ground that aren't usually there. Training your dog to "leave it" can keep them safe.
For example, if you drop a piece of food or some medication that could be toxic to your dog, telling them to "leave it" will prevent your dog from taking advantage of the "five-second rule" before it's too late.
After teaching your dog to "leave it," your dog should always look to you for approval before eating anything off the ground.
How to teach your dog to leave it
Lure with a high-value treat. To teach your pet to "leave it," place a treat in your closed hand. Place your closed hand on the ground in front of them and say the verbal cue "leave it." Let your dog try to get the treat out of your hand until they stop.
Reward good behavior. When your dog stops trying to get the treat, reward them with praise and say their release word. After saying their release word, let them have the treat.
Repeat this process until your dog ignores the treat for a few seconds at a time. After some repetition, try the same command with a treat in your open palm.
Make it challenging. After your dog consistently leaves the treat in your open palm alone, try dropping a treat onto the floor and saying the verbal cue "leave it." Wait a few seconds, then say the release word to tell your dog they can have it. Make sure to give them lots of praise and positive reinforcement along the way.
As you practice this dog trick further, your pet will be able to ignore the temptation until you give them their release word, or until you pick up the object you don't want them to have.
The "down" command is useful for your dog to know in everyday life. In times when you want your dog to be still, like during vet visits or when visitors come to your home, "down" is an essential dog trick for your pup to know.
How to teach your dog down
Start with "sit." To get your dog to lie down, start with your dog in a standing position in front of you. Instruct them to "sit." After your dog is sitting, hold a dog treat in between your fingers so your pet can see it.
Lure with a high-value treat. Move your hand with the treat slowly down to the floor in a straight line. Your dog will follow the treat with their nose. When your hand with the treat meets the floor, slowly drag your hand towards you, away from your pet.
Add the command. Your pet should naturally lie down to reach the treat. As soon as your pet is lying down, say the command "down," and reward them with the treat. Give them extra pats and rubs and say their release word to let them know they have finished the trick.
Repeat this process until your dog automatically lays down with the verbal command. Once your dog learns to lie down, you can teach your dog to army crawl or stay put.
"Place" is a dog trick that can be useful when you want your dog to settle down and relax. Training your dog to go to their place can be beneficial for times when your dog needs to be out of the way, like when you're cooking in the kitchen or when guests are arriving.
The "place" command can tackle problem behaviors like begging at the dinner table or jumping on guests. Teaching your dog to go to their place as an alternative can deter problem behaviors from happening in the first place.
How to teach your dog place
Teach the basics. Before teaching your dog to go to their place, your dog should first know how to sit, lay down, and stay. They will also need a release word to signal that they are free to leave their place.
Introduce your dog's place. Show your pet the bed, crate, or hula hoop and reward any attention they give it, like sniffing or standing on it. You can also lure your dog onto the bed or into the crate with a treat.
Add the command. As soon as your dog steps foot in their place, say the verbal command and reward them. After a few moments, say their release word to let them know they are free to get off of the bed or leave the crate.
Increase the duration. As your dog practices, add time between the behavior and the reward. Add the command "stay" while your pet is in their place and walk away. Give them their release word and then reward them with a dog treat.
Add a challenge. When your dog learns to go to their place, you can start to introduce other challenges like:
- Having them lie down
- Shaking their leash
- Opening or knocking on the door
- Making noise
- Squeaking a toy
When your dog stays put through the distractions, come back to your pet and reward them before saying their release word.
Before long, your dog will understand that "place" not only means touching or standing on their bed but also to lay down and staying until they hear their release word.
7. Back up
"Back up" is a movement dog trick that helps dogs learn to use their body safely and efficiently. Walking backward does not come naturally for most dogs. So, it's a skill they have to learn.
Fun tricks like "backup" come in handy when navigating small spaces or encouraging your dog to give guests a little breathing room.
How to teach your dog to back up
Start with an open space. Before teaching your dog to back up, be sure you are in a space with room to move. A hallway or an area outdoors is a good place to teach your dog this fun trick.
Step, step, reward. With your dog in front of you in a standing position, take a step toward them. When your pet takes a step backward with their hind legs, reward them with a treat.
Add the command. Incorporate the command "back" or "back up" after a few repetitions. After practicing this dog trick repetitively, your dog should automatically walk backward with the verbal command.
8. Shake paws#
Teaching your dog to shake paws is a great touch trick, and is easy to learn. Easy tricks like "shake" are great tricks to teach your dog for times with friends and family.
How to teach your dog to shake hands (paws)
Start with "sit." To teach your dog to shake hands, have them start in a sitting position. Hold a small treat in your closed hand just out of reach in front of your dog.
Add the command. Repeat the phrase "shake" while tapping one of your dog's front feet with your other hand. Most dogs naturally raise their other paw to try to get the treat.
Catch and repeat. When your dog raises their paw, catch it with your hand. Say your command word and reward them with a treat. This will help your dog associate the command with the trick.
Repeat these steps until your dog automatically lifts their paw with the command.
9. Play dead (or rollover)
This fun skill is not an essential trick for dog training like "sit," "shaking hands," and "stay." But, it is a fun new trick to spruce up your pet's skills. As long as your pet knows the "down" command, they should get the hang of this trick in just a few steps.
How to teach your dog to play dead
Start with your dog in a lying position. Use the "down" command to get your dog to lie down.
Lure with a high-value treat. Hold a treat close to your dog's nose. Slowly move it sideways to get your dog to roll over onto their side to follow the treat.
Reward. When your dog is lying on their side, reward them with a treat. Repeat this step several times to get your dog used to laying on their side.
Add the command. Once you have the first step down, start using a verbal command or hand signal. The verbal command could be "play dead," "bang," or whatever you want it to be.
Bonus! Incorporate a hand signal. Some dog owners add a hand signal command to this trick — holding up a finger gun to look like a gun pointing at their dog. After your dog associates the command with the behavior, reward them with a treat.
Barking is a way for dogs to express themselves. But, sometimes pet parents need their pets to be quiet. Barking is a normal behavior for dogs — it's how they communicate.
Dogs bark when they are:
- Trying to get your attention
- Calling out to other animals
- Being territorial
If you have a dog that barks a lot, teaching your pet when it's acceptable to "speak" can help with impulse control and excessive barking.
How to teach your dog to speak
Lure with an enticing reward. With your dog positioned in front of you, make it known that you have something they want. You could be holding a tennis ball, another toy your dog loves, or a treat.
Wait for a response. If your pet knows other dog tricks, they might start to do a few of them to try to get the reward. Your dog might make a noise or bark out of frustration or excitement.
Mark the bark. As soon as your pet makes a noise, mark the behavior with the command "speak" and reward them. Repeat this process until your dog understands how to "speak" on command.
11. Take a bow
The "bow" command comes naturally to some pets, especially if they stretch often. Instead of saying "ooooh, big stretch" when your pet is in this position, use the command "bow" or "take a bow" to reinforce this dog trick.
How to teach your dog to take a bow
Lure with a high-value treat. With your dog standing up in front of you, hold a treat in front of their nose. Slowly move the treat down towards the floor. Their nose should follow the treat all the way to the ground.
Add the command. As you lower the treat, say the command "bow" or "take a bow." When your dog's front legs are lowered and they are still standing up on their hind legs, reward them with the treat. Repeat this process until your pet does this dog trick on command.
"Spin" is a fun trick to incorporate into your book of dog tricks. Spin is not an essential trick, but it's a fun trick to teach your new dog.
How to teach your dog to spin
Lure with a high-value treat. To get your dog to spin, hold a dog treat close to your dog's nose. Slowly move it towards the side of their head, so your dog turns their head to follow the treat.
Add the command. While moving the treat to the side of your pet's head, say the command "spin." Continue moving the treat in a complete circle until your dog spins all the way around.
Reward and repeat. Once you are back in your starting position, reward your dog with a treat. Repeat these steps until your dog makes a complete circle with only the verbal command.
Final tips for teaching your dog tricks
Now that you have learned some of the easiest tricks for beginners, it’s important to remember a few essential tips that will help you along the way:
- Keep your training sessions short.
- Start with basic commands before moving on to more fun tricks.
- Training sessions should last 15 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.
- Use pieces of your dog's food or supplements as "treats" while training.
- Plan training times around meal times so you don't over-feed your pet.
Behavior and trick training is a great way to stimulate your pet's brain and bond with them. Remember, not all dogs are quick learners so spend time training, be consistent, and have fun.
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