We all want our dogs to impress our friends and family. The bottom line, though, is that this takes work and consistent training. There are many benefits to committing to such training. Your dog will learn valuable lessons about what he is expected to do at all times. He will know what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors aren’t. Regardless of the setting, you’ll trust your dog to know how to behave. Also, getting on a good training schedule will create a natural bond between you and your dog. He will fully understand that you have set the rules and he is expected to follow them. Overall, a training plan will bring the most to your relationship with your dog. Putting that aside, how do you truly impress your family and friends?
It’s great to have a trained dog but busting out the impressive tricks is also something to be proud of. Here are seven fun and impressive tricks you can start teaching your dog today!
1. Shake hands. This is a cute trick that you can teach your pet relatively early in training. All you have to do is give the command and gently pick up your dog’s paw in your hand. Shake it gently so he gets used to the feeling of his paw being held. Hold the paw for a few seconds, then let it go. Praise your dog repeatedly and give him a treat. Even small puppies pick up the trick pretty quickly, so this is a great way to please your houseguests.
2. Give a kiss. This is another cute one that you’ll love. Give a command like “give kiss” and then move close to your pet’s face. When you move in, your dog’s natural inclination is to lick you. When he does, praise your dog and give him a treat. This is another one that will come quickly because of your pet’s natural desire to lick you. Use that and you’ll have a happy smooch-partner right away!
3. Play dead. This is a bit harder and may require an older pet with a longer attention span. To train your dog to play dead, start backwards. You want your dog to eventually lay down on his side. Start by getting your dog into the resting position. Use a treat to get your dog on his side. As he lays down, use more treats to get him to lay down longer. The goal is to communicate to your pet that you want him to lay down until you tell him to get up. Likely, when you do this, your pet will be laying down but not have his head on the ground. The second step is to get your pet to lay down and put his head down at the same time. As your pet masters this, you can pull back on the treats and use your hand to signal the “down” motion. Again, work with your dog slowly to get him into the position you want him to end up in after you use the “play dead” command. You will need a few sessions before your dog understands the full movement of laying on his side with his head down. Once he gets it, start your dog in the “sit” position and make a “bang” sound with the hand gesture of a gun. Use the hand signal you trained your dog with to get him to lay down and put down his head. It will take time and you can see how your dog is learning what you want him to learn. Use praise and treats to reinforce what a great pet you have.
4. Roll over. Roll over is an extension of play dead. Once your dog knows the first, the latter isn’t hard to master. Get your dog into the lying position with his head on the ground. Recall the hand movement you used and exaggerate it with another circle. It is a good idea to have a treat in your hand because your dog will follow it with his nose. Because these are similar, use the command clearly. Say “roll over” as you hold the treat and guide your dog’s nose to a complete roll-over. When he rolls over completely, give him a treat. This is a more advanced trick that may require an older dog, but you can always start with your puppy. It will give him a great foundation for what you want right from the start.
5. Stand. This is a trick in which you want your dog on his hind legs with his front paws up. Give the command “stand” and use the treat. Hold it in front of your dog’s nose and slowly move it up and over your dog’s head. Your dog should rise naturally to get the treat. This is another one of those tricks that works with your dog’s natural desire—to get food. Hold up the treat and position it the way you want it so that your puppy is standing on his hind legs. This is also a trick your dog may already be doing. All you have to do is match the action with the command and reward your pet when he does it correctly!
6. Hug. This is a trick built on stand. Your pup already knows how to stand, so now sit on the ground with your pet. As your pet raises his paws, give the command “hug” and ease yourself under his paws so that each is on one of your shoulders. If at any time your pet shows signs of being uncomfortable with your crowding him, stop training. This may not be the trick for your pet. In this case, focus on general handling. If all is good with your pet and putting his paws on your shoulders, put your arms around your dog. As with the other tricks, do this a few times during each training session and give lots of praise.
7. Fetch. Fetch is always fun and can come in handy when you want to expend some dog energy. Find a toy your dog likes. It could be a ball or a squeeze toy. Make sure your dog is already a fan of the object. Put your dog on a long leash. You may need to invest in a longer one than you normally use for walking. Take the toy and throw it far enough that your dog must get it but close enough that he can reach it. Likely he’ll go grab the toy; when he does, say “fetch” or “bring here.” When your dog has the toy in his mouth, jog backwards a little so he must come to you. When he brings back the toy, use a lot of praise. Keep doing this and as your dog picks up the toy, move backwards so he must come to you with it again and again. Use encouragement to get your dog to always bring back the toy. As your dog gets this trick, you can slowly eliminate the long lead. Of course, be sure you’re in an enclosed space when you do and use positive reinforcement to make the most of this training.
There you have it! Pick one trick and start training. You’ll be amazed at how your dog responds to learning something new. It may take some time, but when he gets it, not only will your pet be happy that he pleased you, you’ll be the proud dog owner you always wanted to be!