Building a dog’s confidence and strengthening the human-dog bond are just two of the reasons for you to learn cool tricks to teach your dog. Training sessions should be fun for both you and your pup, learning cool tricks to teach your dog will not only increase what he can do but will be a fun activity to do together.
You will need:
- 3-5 minutes’ time per training session
- Small food treats (small pieces of cheese or chicken or small training treats)
- Shake. “Shake” is one of the most popular cool tricks to teach your dog. To complete this trick he should put his paw in your hand to “shake.” Sit in front of your dog. Put your hand on the floor next to his paw, palm up, and wait for him to put his paw on it. When he does, say “shake” and reward him. Repeat several times. Raise your hand a few inches and repeat. Raise your hand 2-3 inches at a time until he is reliably placing his paw in your hand.
- High-five. For this cool trick to teach your dog, your pup will slap his paw to your hand. Practice a few repetitions of “shake.” Raise your hand as if to shake and when he raises his paw, flip your hand upward so he slaps your hand instead. As his paw touches your palm, say the cue “high-five” then give him a reward.
- Wave. One of the cutest of the cool tricks to teach your dog, for “wave” the dog will raise paw as if to wave goodbye. Practice a few high-fives then gesture to him to high-five but do not say a command word. He will raise his paw toward it, but don’t let him reach it. His paw will be raised for an extra second or two, say “wave” and give him a reward. Try this a few times, raising your hand higher after a few repetitions until he is waving reliably.
- Close door. This is one of the most useful of the cool tricks to teach your dog, here the dog should push doors closed with nose. Practice having your dog touch his nose to your palm. Hold your palm in front of his nose and when he touches it, say “touch” and reward. Practice in several different spots until he is reliably touching your palm with his nose. Now put your hand, palm side out, against an open cabinet door and wait for your dog to touch your palm, when he does, push the door closed and say “close.” Repeat several times until he is pushing hard enough to close the door himself. Eventually remove your hand from the door so he is pushing the door closed with his nose.
- Jump through arms. This is one of the fanciest of the cool tricks to teach your dog, for this trick the dog should jump through your arms formed like a hoop. Have your dog stand in front of you, as you kneel in front of a wall. Form your arms like a hoop and place the hoop on the floor and against the wall. Place a treat on the floor on the opposite side of the hoop. When your dog walks through your arms to get the treat, say “jump.” After several repetitions, raise your arms a few inches. After several more, a few inches from the wall. Increase the distance from the wall and the floor in small increments at each stage.
Remember to keep training sessions short and fun. If your dog makes a mistake, avoid saying “no.” Instead, turn away for 1-2 seconds and use a gentle verbal marker such as “oops” or “uh-oh.” Always end on a positive note. If you find your dog failing to do the actions or his response slowing, go back a step in training until he is reliable on the previous step. As his reliability increases, you can decrease the rate of reward little by little. Eventually you can phase out food treats, but remember to always give praise and affection for successes.