Tricks Made Easy
by Jan Wall
Once your dog learns his basic commands – “sit, down, stay, come,” it can be fun to learn a few tricks to keep your dog stimulated and impress your friends. A dog is never too old to learn a few tricks and it can be fun for both of you to expand your repertoire. Here are some simple instructions for a few favorite tricks. There are over 30 easy-to-learn tricks available at www.loveyourdog.com. Remember, it should always be fun for you and your dog!
1. Shake Hands
Start by having your dog sit. Say, " shake hands," and take his paw with your hand. Hold his paw and say, "Good dog!" Let go of his paw. Do this a few times every day.
Tip: After a while, say, " shake hands," but don't take his paw. See if he raises his paw by himself. If not, keep showing him what to do by saying, " shake hands," and taking his paw with your hand.
Start by having your dog lie down with you face to face on the floor with him. Hold a treat just in front of his nose and say, " come" because he’s moving toward you. If he starts to stand up, say, "No, down...come." Pull the treat away, keeping it low, near the ground and say, "Come." When your dog moves even an inch or two without standing up, praise him and say, "Good dog! Come." Once he is moving forward on his own, stop saying “come” and replace it with the word “crawl.”
Tip: Your dog must know “down” and “come” before he can learn this trick.
If your dog doesn't fetch naturally, have an adult cut a slit in a tennis ball (a smaller rubber ball if that is too big). Put some treats inside the tennis ball. Show your dog that there are treats in there and give her one. Then throw the ball. In the beginning, run with her and get the ball , then give her the treat. Soon you will be able to throw the ball and she will go get it (because she wants the treat!).
Tip: After your dog has figured out what he has to do to get a treat, start throwing the ball two times in a row without giving him the treat. What you are trying to do is give him the treats less and less often so someday he won't need the treats in the ball to fetch it.
4. High Five
Once your dog is proficient at shake hands, you can move on to high five. Start by asking your dog to shake, then grab her paw and reward her. Now move your hand higher and higher each time you ask her to shake. Soon she will just be touching your hand with her paw, then putting it back down. That’s the high five!
Tip: It can be less confusing for the dog if one paw is used for shake hands and the other paw is used for high five.
With your dog facing you , take a treat and lead your dog's nose to the right and around your body. Let him follow the treat all the way around behind your back and around to the front. Give your dog the treat and praise him. He will be making a complete circle around you.
Tip: In the beginning you might have to give your dog several treats while he is going around behind you and when he returns to the front. Practice it several times a day, but only for five minutes or so, two or three times a day.
6. Roll Over
Start by having your dog lie down on his belly. You can stand over him or kneel beside him. Using a treat, hold it near his nose, and then move it around and behind him, so that he lies on his side and then rolls over. Tell him what a great dog he is!
Tip: Only roll your dog on soft surfaces like carpet or grass so he doesn't hurt his back. Some dogs don't like to roll over. It can be a little scary for them to put their belly up. Try it a few times, but if it's not fun for your dog, choose another trick.
Jan Wall is the author of the website, “How to Love Your Dog”. In 1985 Jan designed a Humane Education Program to teach kindness and responsibility to children. She developed a lesson series using dogs as the theme. Later, Jan would adapt her Humane Education Program for the Internet and create the website, “How to Love Your Dog.”