Your dog wants to please you, and will enjoy learning and performing tricks that stimulate its mental and physical capabilities. The old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” just isn’t true – your dog is life-long learner. You’ll want to take advantage of trick training as a way to keep your dog from inventing its own tricks to play on you!
Like other types of training, trick training requires a great deal of patience and practice, and frequent and lavish rewards for the right behaviors. Dogs can lose focus or become bored with tasks it finds uninteresting – just like people. It helps to choose tricks your dog will find fun to perform. Teach the focus command prior to trick training, as well as basic obedience skills the tricks are based on. Train only one trick at a time, starting with easy ones, and pace your training to your dog's learning pace.
If you’re a beginner, start with the basics: Shake Hands, Dance, and Fetch. They will help build up your dog’s confidence and skill quickly. Once these tricks are mastered, look for other ways to combine and modify the basic fundamentals into more complex tricks.
To teach your dog to Shake Hands, begin in the Sit position and get its attention with the Focus command. Gently pick up your dog's paw with one hand while giving a treat with the other. Praise lavishly whenever your dog raises its paw on command and receives its treat. Repeat, and see how fast your dog learns! Try teaching your dog to Wave and Hide its face with its paw once Shake Hands is mastered. You can even train your dog to turn light switches on and off with the same basic technique.
Dance is a simple trick based on the sit position. Begin by holding a treat above your dog's nose until it jumps up on its hind legs. Say Dance, and give the toy to the dog while gently taking hold of its front legs. Dance with your dog at first, guiding it by holding its front legs while it stands balanced on its rear ones. Do not pull or force your dog to stay in the standing position, simply reward the behavior as it occurs naturally. Eventually, see if your dog can perform the trick on its own. Then, try teaching Beg by encouraging your dog to sit while you support its front legs.
Fetch is best trained initially on a long lead. Once focused, toss your dog 's favorite toy a few feet away. Say Fetch while your dog runs or jumps to the toy. Praise it after the toy is picked up, then once again when your dog brings it to you for further play. Wait for the toy to be dropped, and praise and reward once again. Once Fetch is accomplished, you can move on to Frisbee, as well as teaching your dog to play Hide and Seek with specific toys it can learn to identify by name.
The basics of trick training can turn into so much more if you stick with it. Spend a certain amount of time a day with these tricks – and it’s a great way to bond with your dog!
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.