Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

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.

1 / 12
Good doggy. Master hand with delicacy for beagle puppySoloviova Liudmyla/shutterstock

Nose bump

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.

2 / 12
Dog Awakened from Nap on FloorBull's-Eye Arts/shutterstock


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.

3 / 12
Golden retriever laying down on the porch in front of the doorLuc Brousseau/shutterstock

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.

4 / 12
young hipster man bonding with his pet dog with tricks and treats, shake pawDaxiao Productions/shutterstock

Shake paws

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!

5 / 12
Black french bulldog puppy sitting on stairs between owner's female legsIryna Gyrych/shutterstock

Leg weave

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.

6 / 12
cute red dog waving paw. Breed New Scotland Retriever. Autumndezy/shutterstock

Say hi!

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.

7 / 12
funny border collie dog catches his tailotsphoto/shutterstock


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.

8 / 12
Pug dog waiting for a permission to eat cheese on the kitchen.Mariia Boiko/shutterstock

Army crawl

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.

9 / 12
A Westie Puppy, Standing on a Wooden FloorRiver Kanjanakrit/shutterstock


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.

10 / 12
Beautiful dog in motion. Rough Collie jump through agility hoop, he is in long jump landing on grass.Flatka/shutterstock

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.

11 / 12
Happy dog lying upside down and fooling around on the grassFotyma/shutterstock


Dogs roll over all the time on their own accord, but when she does it on your command she earns a treat. Hof says to begin with your dog in a down position: Make sure their hips are rolled to one side. If they haven’t already done so, deliver a treat at one of your dog’s elbows. As they go to get the treat, they will roll their hips in the opposite direction. You will then use a treat to lure their head to follow their hips. Since roll-over is a difficult trick, reward your dog for small steps towards it. Try to reward your dog each time they progressively roll towards the side. If you are too stingy, your dog will get frustrated and leave. But don’t go overboard with large portion treats or your dog could get a tummy ache. These are the signs your dog might be sick.

12 / 12
jack russel puppy on white carpetSmit/shutterstock

Close the door

Once your dog has the Nose Bump trick nailed, try this one that Hof shares: Start by placing a Post-it Note on your hand and present it for your dog to touch. Reinforce your dog’s behavior with a “Yes!” followed by a treat once they do. Next, place a Post-it Note on an open door and ask your dog to touch it. If your dog touches it at all, mark and reinforce. If they don’t, try again but hold your hand right next to the Post-it Note to help them. Encourage them to keep touching the door until they’ve pushed it closed!. This is also great fun to teach on cabinet drawers and doors in the kitchen. Now your dog can help you out around the house! Read on to find out the 11 superpowers dogs have…that you don’t.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.