It takes some patience and practice, but you and your dog will learn tricks that will last a lifetime. Tricks are like riding a bike. Once they have fully learned the trick, they will recall the trick years down the road, even if they have not practiced for a long time.
Before you begin teaching your dog new tricks, it is important to know the limits of your dog. Be realistic. Consider the size and breed of your dog before trying to teach a new trick. Also, it is important that you and your dog are having fun. If your dog is not “into” the trick thing, you must respect his wishes. Unless it is something that you are teaching for safety purposes, you will not want to force the “fun” tricks. This could cause tension in you and your dog.
When training your dog, it is absolutely essential that you use positive reinforcement. This is the most effective technique when trying to teach your dog tricks. Fun tricks are supposed to be just that, fun. Punishing a dog for not performing a “fun” trick is simply mean and unacceptable.
In positive reinforcement, you ignore the bad and reward the good. Once your dog has performed the trick, you reward him with something he likes, especially a lot of praise. They know when you are pleased with them and they will want to try for that response again.
Another important tip is to break down the trick into smaller steps.
Here are some tricks you can teach your pooch.
Paw trick – Have your dog sit. Ask for the paw. Shake it gently and praise and reinforce with a treat.
High Five – Start with giving the paw. Hold your hand at the same height in which your dog gives his paw. With each command, hold your hand higher until your dog gives his paw at a higher level. Do this until your dog actually gives a high five. After he has learned the small steps, he will realize he is supposed to give the paw no matter where you have your hand.
Give Ten – This is a variation of High Five. This is where your dog will give both paws and rest his weight on his hind legs. Only teach this trick, if he has mastered the above two tricks.
Are you Happy? – When you ask this question, your dog should wag his tail. This is a simple but cute trick that makes your dog feel part of the family. This trick is taught by the tone of your voice. Be sure to use an excited tone. If he wags his tail praise and reinforce with a treat or toy.
Give me a Kiss – Dab butter or cream cheese on your hand and say “give me a kiss” while extending your buttered hand to your dog and raising it up towards your face. You can even have him kiss your face, if you like. Once this has been done with butter a couple of times, they will learn this hand signal.
Going through a hoop – Buy a hula hoop. Hold the hula hoop in front of you. If your dog is frightened, positive reinforcement is great here. Give him a treat if he sniffs it. Then hold it out to your side and have treats on the other side of the hoop. He will walk through for that treat.
Chase your tail – Hold the treat at level with the dog’s nose and say “chase your tail”. Start slowly by giving treats at half spins, etc.
Once you have trained your dog some “fun” tricks, you can venture out to the park. Take along his pet stroller for after his performance in the park. Make it more exciting by getting your dog a pet costume. This will add to his performance! He will likely be tired after a day of fun and be ready for a long nap in his pet bed.