Teaching your dog new tricks is fun, exciting, and incredibly rewarding. Training your dog is also the first step towards building a strong human-dog bond
Here’s our guide for tricks that any beginner can teach. These are the building blocks of basic obedience and more.
Sit is one of the first words your dog should know because it helps you teach other tricks. You can also use “sit” to get them focused on you instead of other distractions, similar to the “watch me” trick.
How to teach sit:
- Begin in a standing position with a treat in your hands
- Slowly bring the treat from in front of your dog to right above their nose
- Continue moving until the treat is right over their head
- While you do this, your dog will look back at the treat and their rear will go down
- As soon as their rear touches the ground say “Yes!” (or click a Clicker, or other positive word to mark the behavior) and give them the treat
Be careful to avoid repeating “sit” too often because it can confuse your dog. This tip applies to every trick you’ll ever teach. Too much repetition will desensitize your dog to the word and they won’t have a clue as to what it means.
#2 Roll Over
Roll over is a classic, and you can teach it by using treats alone. However, make sure that your dog is comfortable with the positions involved. Some dogs aren’t open to being made vulnerable by exposing their belly.
How to teach roll over:
- From a lying down position, hold a treat out in front of their nose
- Move the treat slowly around the side of their face, and finally behind their head
- In the process of following this motion, your dog should begin to roll
Repeat this process several times while rewarding them with a positive reward marker and the treat. This is one of the more challenging “easy” tricks, as it requires a very trusting and comfortable pup.
Down is useful for placing dogs in a resting position. Having your dog “sit” makes this trick easier so make sure they understand “sit” well.
How to teach a Down:
- Starting from a sitting position, hold a treat in front of their nose
- Now, move the treat straight towards the ground.
- Once they lie down and stay there, drop the treat between their paws to reinforce the cue.
This lets your dog know that they’re being rewarded for the “down”. If you give them the treat with your hand instead of dropping it, they’ll reach towards your hand every time they lay down.
#4 Leave It
This includes situations where you want them to:
- Leave an approaching dog alone
- Stop sniffing your plate while you eat
- Leave fallen food uneaten
- Wait and hold until given the cue to eat a treat
“Leave it” can protect your dog from other dogs, eating hazardous human food, and more.
How to teach leave it:
- Start by placing one piece of kibble in front your dog while they’re sitting or lying down.
- Say “leave it” after you place the kibble and then wait.
- If they don’t go after the kibble then place another piece of kibble down and say “leave it” again.
- Repeat this process until all the kibble is placed in front of the dog (5-10 pieces is good), then give them a cue like the word “free” or “take it!” and let them have it.
If they try to go after the kibble anytime before that, quickly cover or immediately remove all of the kibble and start over. Your dog will eventually learn that this is a fun game that they want to win everytime!
“Jump” is a crucial skill to learn if you want your dog to participate in most sports or exercises. It’s also easier than most people think, you just need some treats and a hula hoop!
How to teach jump:
- Hold a hoop out in front of you near your dog.
- Take a treat and slowly pull it through the hoop while you say “hup!” or “jump!”, and they should follow through.
- At first, keep the hoop low so that your dog can easily step through to get the treat.
- After every success raise the hoop a little until they’re jumping like a gazelle! (or at least more than a few inches off the ground…)
The Benefits Of Teaching Tricks
Giving your dog some basic tricks to learn helps you control them in a public setting. If your dog is barking or lunging you can use “sit,” “down,” leave it,” and others to keep them focused on you and out of trouble.
“Down” Puppy by lecates
Sitting Puppy by Steve Starer
Rolled Over Dog by Jonathan Grado
Jumping Dog By Harold Meerveld