Learning how to teach dogs tricks can strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Basic obedience training provides your dog with simple commands aimed at keeping him safe or calm, but trick training gives your dog a chance to learn more complex commands that are fun and exciting for him. No matter what size or breed your dog is or what kind of temperament he has, he can learn to perform tricks if you follow some basic training rules.
To teach dog tricks, you'll need:
- Start small. Don’t try to teach your dog a complicated trick in one shot. Break it into smaller steps and work on the first step until your dog has mastered it. Include the next step and keep gradually introducing each new step when your dog can perform all the previous steps. For example, teaching your dog to roll over should start with training him to lay down. Once he’s down, work on getting him onto his side in a “play dead” pose then onto his back. When he can do all that, practice having him go all the way over to his other side then his belly until he’s performed a complete roll.
Use verbal commands. Decide on one word or a short phrase to use for each trick. Give the verbal command and wait for your dog to perform the correct behavior then reward him. Your dog will learn to associate each verbal command with a particular trick. Don’t forget to use them for basic obedience commands that serve as the smaller steps for a trick, such as having your dog sit before asking him to “shake hands.” Use the same commands consistently to avoid confusing your dog.
Reward each victory. Praise your dog and give him a treat each time he performs the right behavior. Rewarding him gives him incentive to learn a new trick. Remember to reward each individual step until your dog masters it then you can cut back to only rewarding the entire trick. Work on eliminating treats and just petting, playing with or praising your dog when he can perform the trick easily. You can do this by only rewarding with treats some of the time then only once in awhile before cutting treats out completely.