How many times have you heard the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” The adage has been around for generations—but there’s simply no truth to it! Dogs of all ages can absolutely learn tricks, and most enjoy the challenge of working alongside their people.
Whether you’ve already dedicated time to basic training or you’re a newbie who wants to learn how to train your dog to do tricks, stick around. We’ve got a dog tricks list for you and your best friend to try, including all of the steps you need to learn how to teach your dog tricks.
10 Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Easy Dog Tricks
“Speak” is one of the fun tricks to teach your dog that’s also useful, especially if you’d like them to be able to sound off for protection.
To begin, choose a consistent verbal marker—“speak” or something similar. When you’re just starting out, you may need to get your dog excited to initiate barking, but as soon as they bark, mark their success with the verbal marker and give your dog a treat right away so they know they’ve completed the command. To maintain “speak,” spend a few minutes each day putting it into practice, rewarding your dog each time they bark on command.
2. Back Up
If you’re looking for cool dog tricks, try teaching your pup to back up—something they don’t typically do naturally.
First, get your dog’s attention and lure them with a treat. Once they’re engaged, hold the treat and entice them to move backward by moving your body forward. Each time your dog takes a backward step, reward them with a treat and reinforce with “yes” or an affirmative marker of your choice. As your dog begins to understand what you’re asking, try moving them backward over a further distance and continue to reinforce success with treats and your verbal marker.
3. Give Paw
“Give paw” falls into the category of easy tricks to teach your dog—and it’s also one of the funniest dog tricks out there!
Place your dog in a “sit” position so that weight is off of their front paws, and kneel in front of them. Gently place your hand under your dog’s paw and lift until your forearm is about perpendicular to the ground. Give a verbal cue (like “shake”) and reward your dog with a treat. Repeat this process a few times so that your dog begins to understand what you’re asking. Then, put your hand out, and your pup should offer their paw. Follow up with a treat and affirmative reinforcement, and don’t forget to practice regularly!
4. Roll Over
If you’re looking for impressive yet easy tricks to teach your dog, try “roll over.” Get your dog’s attention with a treat, and ask them to lay down. Next, ask your dog to follow your hand and lay on their side. From there, complete the rollover motion with your hand, and your dog should follow. As always, follow up with your verbal cue and positively reinforce the command with a treat.
Intermediate Dog Tricks
5. Spin and Twist
“Spin and twist” is one of the most fun tricks to teach your dog, and it also helps your pup learn to focus on you.
Grab your dog’s attention using a treat, then use the verbal marker “spin” and ask your dog to follow your hand as you turn in a small circle. Some dogs may sit down or stand up as they’re learning, but as long as they complete at least a partial turn, reward with a verbal affirmation and a treat. Continue this process until your dog can complete a full turn, being sure to reward them each time.
6. Wave “Hello” or “Goodbye”
Looking for intermediate dog tricks to teach? “Wave” is a great choice.
First, make sure you’ve mastered “give paw,” then get your dog’s attention with a treat and stand up facing them. Next, put your hand out as if you are asking to “give paw,” but pull your hand back before your pup can make contact. In the process, your dog will have completed a “wave,” and you’ll want to reward them with a treat and a verbal marker. Continue to practice until your dog “waves” without reaching for your hand!
Begin teaching your dog to give hugs by asking them to sit on a step or raised surface, or kneel down with your back facing your dog. Next, use a food lure to direct your dog’s attention over your shoulder and move your hand forward to encourage them to come onto your back. Once your dog moves forward, reward the behavior verbally and with a treat. Continue to practice until your pup seamlessly comes over your shoulder and into a “hug” position, rewarding each step of the way.
Advanced Dog Tricks
8. Sit Pretty
“Sit pretty” falls into the category of advanced dog tricks because it’s challenging for canines to keep their balance while resting weight on their back legs. You will want to be very patient with this trick—it can take months before it’s solidified in your dog’s mind and training.
Begin with your dog in a “sit” position and get their attention with a food lure. Next, ask your dog to follow your hand and encourage them up and onto their back legs by bringing the food lure above their head and slightly backward. As soon as your dog raises their front paws off of the ground, reward verbally and with a treat. Again, take your time and practice often—this one is little beyond 101 dog tricks!
9. Jump Into My Arms
Once you’re familiar with how to teach dog tricks, you can move onto more advanced tricks like teaching your dog to jump into your arms. This, too, is a trick taught over time, so remember to be patient with your pup.
Begin by sitting in a chair that can accommodate both of you, and place your dog in a “sit” in front of you. Next, use a food lure to encourage your dog to jump into your lap. Reward your dog verbally and with a treat each time that they jump into the chair with you and, as you progress, begin to wrap your arms around your dog when they jump up. Once you’ve mastered the chair, move to a standing position and encourage your dog to jump up by squatting down slightly, opening your arms, and using your verbal cue. Reward any attempt at the beginning, and continue to progress from there.
10. Hoop Jump
Now that you’re well versed in how to train a dog to do tricks, you can teach your pet nearly anything—including how to jump through a hoop!
Begin with the hula hoop on the ground and simply encourage your dog to walk through the hoop, rewarding with verbal cues and a treat each time. Once your pup understands what you’re asking, continue to practice and bring the hoop a little higher off of the ground each time, being mindful of your dog’s bodily limits and delicate joints.
Before you know it, your dog will be jumping through hoops—and you’ll have officially learned how to teach an old dog new tricks!
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