Cool Dog Tricks
If you’re looking to impress visitors with your puppy, or maybe just want something really fun to do with your dog, there are plenty of cool dog tricks that might be the solution you need!
We all love our pets, but sometimes it can feel like your dog is incapable of learning any tricks. While it may feel impossible at times, with the right techniques and proper amount of practice just about any dog can learn.
Committing yourself to teaching your dog some tricks is a great New Year’s resolution, but it’s also a fun bonding experience for you and your dog throughout the year. Watch the following videos to learn some simple techniques that make it possible for any dog to learn tricks.
How to Teach Your Dog
Whether you have a playful puppy or a sedentary senior, dogs of all ages and breeds can learn new tricks. Everyday commands like “sit” and “stay” are important when teaching basic manners — and for keeping your pooch out of trouble — but your canine companion is capable of all sorts of other crowd-pleasing feats.
And dog tricks aren’t just a fun way to entertain houseguests; experts say both dogs and their humans benefit greatly from the trick-training process. We turned to the pros to get some tips and, er, tricks for how to teach a dog tricks.
First, the Basics
Teaching a dog tricks isn't impossible – or even particularly difficult.
Tricks are like puzzles for dogs; teaching your dog new tricks not only challenges his mind, but enhances his focus and intelligence. The process of challenging your dog to achieve a goal — and then working toward that goal together — is a bonding experience for both of you.
But whether you want to teach your pup to retrieve your newspaper from the end of the driveway — or to simply come when called — there are definitely some tricks to the trade.
Try to follow the mantra: ‘cue, action, reward’… and remember that timing is everything, because that reward must be given at the exact moment your dog delivers the action you’re looking for.
Along with keeping training sessions short and minimizing distractions as much as possible, your four-legged friend is going to need a ton of positive reinforcement during the learning process. That means plenty of verbal praise (“good girl!”), head scratches and, of course, yummy treats.
One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to use dog kibble or being too stingy with treats, but in the learning phase, you want to use the good stuff — chicken, cheese, ham — or anything your dog would really enjoy will keep him motivated to learn.
Want to know how to teach a dog tricks?
Here are some fun tricks to teach your dog at home:
Teach a Dog to Spin in a Circle
A dog’s drive to hunt makes spinning in circles a trick that any dog can learn. You can use your dog’s natural inclination to rely on his nose to find prey into luring him to move in all sorts of ways.
Getting your dog to spin on command is a staple dog trick. While seemingly complicated, making your dog spin when directed can be done very easily with the right technique. However, getting your dog to spin with a verbal command only can be pretty difficult for beginners, so even if you get your dog to spin with a hand cue or treats, it is still an accomplishment to be celebrated.
-- Let your dog sniff out a treat in your hand.
-- Move your arm in a wide circle around the dog as you give the cue, “spin.”
-- Encourage your dog to follow his nose to spin in a circle, and reward him with the treat.
-- Once your dog understands this trick, graduate to only using the word “spin” or making a circular hand or arm gesture to elicit the behavior. (You can also teach a follow-up command like “rewind” or “reverse” and train your dog to spin in the opposite direction.)
Teach a Dog to Crawl Through a Tunnel
Don’t worry, you don’t actually need a tunnel for this trick — a row of chairs works just fine. It’s a really fun trick but also a great canine conditioning exercise.
-- Use a treat to lure your dog to get down on his belly and crawl under a chair (it should look like army crawling), then reward.
-- Add an additional chair and repeat the first step.
-- Keep adding chairs and gradually move the treat farther away from the end of the row of chairs so your dog learns to crawl completely through the “tunnel” to earn his treat.
Teach a Dog to Shake Hands (or High-Five)
Teaching your dog to high-five is fairly simple!
Is there anything more adorable than a handshake (or a high-five) from your best pal? This trick requires that your dog already knows “sit”. The “Shake Hands” trick is definitely one of the cuter tricks your pup can learn. It is quite simple and is actually one of the easiest tricks to teach.
The secret is that your dog will already naturally paw at you if they want something. When you present a closed fistful of treats, your dog will be compelled to paw at your hand since they can’t get the treats with their mouth.
-- Ask your dog to “sit”.
-- Gently tickle the back of her leg until she lifts her paw, while using commands like “give paw” or “shake.”
-- Reach for her paw and reward with a treat for completing the handshake. The same steps can be applied for a “high-five” command; hide a treat in your fist and try to get your dog to paw at your hand while using the “give a high-five” cue, eventually opening up your fist and rewarding your dog for pawing your open palm.
Teach a Dog to Roll Over
When your dog can follow the cue for “down,” you can advance to the “roll over” command. Just try to keep your hands off your pooch when teaching this one.
We instinctively want to teach our dogs by physically manipulating them, but when a dog gives up his initiative, it actually slows down the learning process.
Instead, always use treats, toys or other rewards to lure your dog into the correct body positions on his own.
-- Put your dog in the “down” position.
-- Using a treat, guide your dog’s nose over his shoulder to encourage him to displace his weight to seek out the treat, while giving the cue “roll over.”
-- Continue the motion until his body fully rolls over, then give the reward.
Teach a Dog to Act Shy
One of a dog’s more unique and entertaining tricks is acting shy by covering his eyes … it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.
-- Place a small piece of masking tape on your dog’s nose.
-- Most dogs will immediately attempt to bat off the tape with their paw; as the dog brings her paw to her nose, use a cue like “good shy” and reward the behavior.
-- Repeat until your dog understands the command without using tape and will react to the word “shy” (such as “Don’t be shy”).
Teach a Dog to Retrieve a Drink From the Refrigerator
Teaching a dog to get a drink from the fridge is a little more difficult — but it can be done!
While this is definitely a more advanced trick, the use of an especially tasty treat and a lot of patience and repetition can make it happen. Your dog should already know the commands for “fetch” and “drop,” and you may want to first use those commands to teach your dog to play fetch with an empty can of soda.
-- Tie a dish towel on the handle of the refrigerator door with a knot at the end (it’s best to leave the door open slightly when first introducing this trick to your dog). Introduce your chosen cue, like “bring me a soda.”
-- Insert a piece of hot dog or another delectable treat into the knot at the end so the dog is attracted to the towel and learns to pull on it to retrieve his treat. Repeat command and reward with praise and additional treats for pulling on the towel and opening the door.
-- Use the command for “fetch” while pointing to the soda can. If needed, place the can in the dog’s mouth while using the cue, and reward with a treat.
-- Use the “drop” command to encourage your dog to place the drink into your hand. Reward this action with treats and praise. Continue moving farther away from the refrigerator while giving these commands.
-- To teach the dog to close the refrigerator door, dangle a treat in a position that will prompt your dog to get on his hind legs and place his front paws on the door, while using a command like “close it.”
More Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Yes, your dog may already shower you with kisses on a daily basis, but now you can actually teach them to kiss you on command.
For this trick you’ll need something sticky like tape or a post-it, treats, and a clicker.
I know of a dog that not only learned how to kiss his owner, but he even learned to kiss his cat friend!
While you can always just give your dog a hug, this trick is neat because your dog will actually put their paws around you and hug you back.
Who wouldn’t want to learn this adorable trick?
If you want to master this heartwarming hug, just remember to be understanding of the pace at which your dog learns.
Also, keep in mind that it is a bit simpler for your dog to learn this trick if they already know “Sit Pretty,” but otherwise it is still very manageable.
Bark On Command
This trick might be for more advanced dogs and takes some extra patience, as it’s one of the tougher tricks.
You have to be diligent in waiting for your dog to bark by himself first, and then reward them as they continually do it.
Your dog may not bark immediately even if the trainer is a professional, so make sure you remember that it won’t happen right away.
However, if you can master it, barking on command is a very unique trick that will definitely impress your fellow dog owners.
While fetch is a classic game, for some dogs it’s a trick that doesn’t come naturally.
It can become pretty frustrating when your dog won’t cooperate at play time.
Some dogs are uninterested in the toy and don’t even want to try, some will go fetch the toy but not bring it back, and then there are the stubborn dogs who bring the toy back but then won’t let go.
You need to first learn how you can get your dog interested in fetch in the first place, and then actually learn how to play fetch properly.
“Playing Dead” is a great trick that will most definitely impress your friends and family at parties.
Unlike simpler commands like sitting or shaking hands, playing dead takes a bit more time and persistence to master.
Take your time and remember to reinforce with a clicker and treats to make the process faster.
If your dog already knows the trick “Roll Over” it will be much easier for them to learn this trick.
Stand On Hind Legs
While this trick may seem like something to leave to the professionals, if you are a dog owner who is persistent, patient and has high determination, it is definitely doable.
In comparison to tricks like “Shake Hands” or “Spin,” this trick may seem complex, but really it is just as easy to achieve if you put the work and effort in.
Big or small, any dog is capable of learning this if their owner is just as determined.
Making your dog “Sit Pretty” isn’t just fun because it gives you the chance to take cute pictures of your pup to post to Instagram, but it’s also a great exercise for your dog.
Making your dog strike an adorable pose helps with your dog’s balance and can build core muscles.
However, make sure that your dog is healthy for this trick because it can strain dogs with pre-existing conditions.
Using Positive Reinforcement to Entice Your Dog
When people talk about positive reinforcement dog training, they sometimes refer to it as positive dog training, force free dog training, clicker training, even science-based dog training. Some of these terms relate to a wider dog training philosophy as well as a specific method, and those philosophical and ethical issues are important.
But, positive reinforcement is also a technical term with a specific definition.
Positive reinforcement is a very effective way to train dogs (and other animals). Positive reinforcement means adding something immediately after a behavior occurs that makes the frequency of the behavior go up.
Technically speaking, the term breaks down into two parts. Reinforcement means the behavior continues or goes up in frequency. (If the behavior went down instead, it’s not reinforcement). And positive means something is added.
For example, you ask the dog to sit, the dog sits, and you give him a treat (something is added). The dog is more likely to sit next time you ask (the behavior was reinforced).
For most dog training, food is the best reward to use. That’s because all dogs like food, and it’s efficient because you can deliver it quickly.
There’s a huge variety of food rewards, ranging from treats you can buy from the pet store to types of human food that are suitable for dogs and treats that you make yourself.
Pick something your dog really likes, because that means it will motivate them. Of course it needs to fit within an overall balanced diet. You may also want to vary the rewards, either just to provide variety or to suit the task you are training.
For example, if you are doing a lot of training, little cubes of chicken might be most appropriate because it’s a healthy component of a dog’s diet. Or you could use treats that are tiny so that you aren’t over-feeding (some come in miniature size). At other times, pieces of cheese or deli meats might be appropriate in suitable quantities. Use your very best rewards for teaching recall (i.e. to come when called).
Clicker training is also a great option for positive reinforcement!
Always Remember: Patience is your best asset!
When you’re training your dogs, make sure to be patient. Remember, training takes time. Be patient and steady with rewarding your dog, and you will in turn be rewarded with a well-trained dog that can perform the coolest dog tricks!
What fun tricks does your dog know? Are you planning to teach your pup any new tricks? Let us know and leave a comment below!