12 Easiest Dog Tricks You Could Start Teaching Today
Learning new tricks is actually healthy for your dog. It gives them stimulating mental and physical challenges—and a fetching opportunity to spend time together.
Here’s a fun canine version of the fist bump from Jessica Ring, certified dog trainer and owner of My Fantastic Friend dog training: Tuck a smelly treat under your thumb and hold your open palm about one inch away from your dog’s nose. Hold still and wait for your pup to bump your hand with his nose. Say, “Yes!” the instant his nose touches your palm, and then give a treat with your other hand. After several successful bumps, remove the treat from under your thumb and try again with an empty hand. Gradually present your hand farther away so your dog has to take some steps to get to it. Add the cue “touch” before presenting your hand. You’ll wish you knew these 15 dog training secrets sooner.
Dog tricks that help your dog chill? Yes, please. Here’s how Ring does it: Start with your dog in the down position. Wait for any tiny head movement towards the floor. Immediately say “Yes!” to mark the movement, then deliver a yummy treat on the floor. Repeat until your dog has caught on and is deliberately lowering her head. Over time, wait for movements that are gradually closer to the floor until your dog is consistently touching her chin on the floor. Then add a split second of duration before saying “Yes!” and giving the treat. Add more and more duration until she’s resting her chin on the floor. The secret is to always offer the treat close to the floor.
Ring a bell to go potty
This is handy because sometimes you’re too distracted and don’t pick up your pup potty cues. Colleen Demling Riley, a certified dog trainer and canine behaviorist at Dogtopia, instructs her pet parent clients to first put a treat between the door and the bell: Your dog will ring the bell with his nose as he attempts to eat the treat. When he does ring the bell, praise him, open the door, walk outside, give him the treat, then repeat. This step should be practiced in three-minute sessions, three times a day, for three days. After the third day, wait until it is potty time and then take your pup to the door and put your hand near the bell. When he rings it, take him outside to potty. If he goes, praise him and give him a treat. If he doesn’t, bring him back inside. He isn’t allowed to play or go on a walk. This will help him learn that the bell is only to be used to go potty and not for another reason.
The classic of dog tricks, but it also helps your dog get used to having his paw touched—like for nail clipping. Riley says to hide treats or a toy in your closed fist: Place your closed fist near your pup’s paws and wait. He will normally try to lick your hand first but will eventually use his paw. When he does, tell him “shake,” give him the reward and lots of praise then repeat. Make sure not to say the word “shake” until he paws your hand. If you say shake over and over while he is licking your hand, he will think that shake means, “lick your hand.” Keep practice sessions to less than five minutes. After a week of daily practice, remove the treat or toy and put your empty hand by his leg and say “shake.” When he puts his paw on your hand, praise him and give him a treat!
Dog tricks that help you sneak in a little exercise for you and your pup are worth the effort. Here’s how Liz Claflin, dog trainer and director of operations at Zoom Room says to teach it: Tuck several yummy treats into the fist of your right hand. Stand with your dog on your left side. Step out with your right leg and bend your right knee. Reach your right hand under your leg from the outside of your body and in, towards your dog. Encourage your dog to approach your hand with the treats and smell them, then lure your dog back under your leg to your right side. Switch the treats to your left hand, lunge with your left leg and reach your hand under your thigh and towards your dog, just as before. Repeat, lunging your way across the room. As fun and lively as this dog trick is, your dog may need a little more exercise to stay healthy. Here’s how much exercise your pup really needs each day.
Teaching your dog to wave hello is a pretty impressive dog trick to show off at the dog park. Some dogs might struggle with dog tricks like this one but Claflin says with consistency, patience, and lots praise your pup will be waving in no time: Ask your dog to shake and as he moves his paw towards your hand, quickly pull your hand away. As soon as your dog starts to put his paw back down, immediately move your hand in front of him again as if you want him to shake with the goal of your dog doing two pumps of the paw. If he is successful, immediately reward him with a treat. Sometimes your dog just isn’t into you or learning tricks—here’s what he really wishes you knew.
Here’s another favorite from Claflin: Take a favorite treat pinched between your thumb and pointer finger and make sure your dog smells it and knows it’s there. Have your dog in front of you and lower the treat near their nose and slowly lure them in a big circle. Once your dog completes the spin, reward with a lot of praise and the treat. Once he has successful spun in a circle two or three times and no longer appears confused, add in your command. Say “Spin!” in a happy tone of voice one time just as you start to lure your dog around in the circle. Repeat. At least with dog tricks like this one you know what your pup is doing, but when she spins chasing her tail, it’s a weird behavior you can’t explain—but these canine experts can.
This is one of those dog tricks you’ve seen your pup do on her own before—when she crawls on-the-sneak to casually take a slice of pizza off the coffee table. But now, your pup can learn it on your command with these instructions from Claflin: Place a few favorite treats in one hand and ask your dog to lie down. From there, put your fist full of smelly treats right up to his nose. Stay low to the ground and slowly pull your hand parallel to the floor. You want your dog to crawl forward a tiny bit to get to the treats. If he stands up, simply stop, ask for him to lie down again and start over. Once your dog has successfully crawled forward a small amount, praise and reward and then continue to lure them forward. Then praise and reward again.
Dogs tricks that teach basic commands are fun but also keep your dog from danger. Nick Hof, a certified professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant at Paws Look Listen shares how to teach it: Start with your dog in a standing position. Hold a treat between two fingers and put your hand underneath your dog’s chest, between their front legs. Your dog will look down and then move back to get the treat. When they do, say “Yes!” and give them the treat. After a few repetitions, you can add a cue word, or have fun and make it a “Beep! Beep!” sound. Give the cue word or sound right before you put your hand under their chest. You’ll be able to fade this as your dog starts backing up at the cue.
Jump through a hoop
Reminiscent of the dog tricks seen under the big top, Hof says you’ll need a hoop that will be a comfortable size for your dog to jump through: With the hoop firmly on the ground with you holding it upright, hold a treat in your hand and use it to lure your dog, having them walk through the hoop. After doing this a couple of times, begin to hold the hoop just a little off the ground and repeat. Continue to raise the hoop until your dog needs to do a little hop over the hoop to get across. This is also a good time to remove the treat from your hand so your dog isn’t focused too much on that—but give them a treat after each repetition while they learn. Your dog will now be following your hand gesture as the signal to jump. These tiny and super cute pups might need an extra-small hoop.