When it comes to keeping your dog’s brain sharp, nothing beats training them to do a few cool tricks. Training helps keep our best buddies happy, obedient, and mentally active. Adding a few simple tricks to your dog’s arsenal is a great way to bond and will leave you with some cool moves to bust out at your next dog party.
Here are three easy tricks to try with your dog. With a little time, treats, and enthusiasm, your dog will be showing off their new skills in no time. Note: Remember that positive reinforcement always wins.
1. Take a Bow
This one couldn’t be simpler: most dogs naturally “bow” when they stretch (picture the downward dog yoga pose). To turn it into a trick, simply say “take a bow!” or your choice of command when you catch them doing it, then reward them with a treat. After a while, your dog should be able to take a bow on cue.
2. Shake Hands
“Shake” is the trick that keeps on giving. Once your dog has a solid shake, she’ll be ready to move on to slightly more complicated moves.
1. Hold out your empty hand, palm up, at a height close to your dog’s knee level.
2. Wait. Your dog will probably sniff your hand or lick it. Eventually, he will try other tactics, such as pawing at your hand.
3. The moment your dog lifts his paw, tell him “good dog!” (even if he hasn’t made contact with your hand) and reward him with a yummy treat.
4. Repeat this waiting game until your dog is lifting his paw into your hand. Keep rewarding him and start adding in a verbal cue. Say “shake” as you present your hand, and soon your dog will be shaking paws with you.
3. High Five
Nothing’s cooler than saying “high five” and catching a palm full of paw! This move is also useful if you have a dog that tends to paw at you—redirect those bad manners into a cool trick.
1. Get your dog to sit.
2. Once your dog is sitting up, hold a treat in your fist and hold your fist in front of his nose until he lifts a single paw and touches your fist without leaving the sitting position. Give him a treat as soon as he does this correctly, but only when he does it correctly. If he stands up, or jumps up on your fist with both paws, return to starting position and try again. Keep practicing until he does it the right way consistently.
3. Once your dog is consistently tapping your fist with his paw, it's time to present your open hand in the high-five position. Keep it there until he touches it with his paw. Be patient. It might take a while for him to make the connection and understand what you want. You might need to let him smell the treat residue on your palm or hide a small piece between your fingers in order to motivate him. As soon as he touches your hand with his paw, reward him with a treat and praise.