You’ve got a new dog and you’re ready to start training him to impress all your friends. With some patience, a few small treats and a little practice, soon your pup will be doing these easy tricks.
Teaching your dog to sit is an important starting point for most other tricks. To teach a dog to sit, it is best to use a clicker. Stand in front of your dog and wait until he sits. When he does, click the clicker and say “sit” before rewarding him with a treat. Repeat the sequence several times.
From the sitting position you also can teach your dog to lie down. When he is sitting, rather than rewarding him, just wait. He eventually should lie down. When he does, click the clicker, say “lie down” and offer him the reward. You can do the same when he stands up, this time waiting until he stands before offering him the reward. Teach each trick separately when your dog is learning the tricks so he doesn’t become confused.
A fun variation of sit is beg, which is sometimes called stand or sit pretty. After your dog is in a sitting position, hold a treat in front of her nose and say “beg” while positioning the reward at a height to retrieve it she’ll have to raise her front paws off the floor. Don’t hold the treat for too long before rewarding it and don’t hold it too high or your pup might lose her balance and topple over on her back.
To start, get your dog to sit. After he is sitting, say, “shake” and lift one of his paws in your hand and shake it like you would in a handshake. Say, “good dog” and reward him with a treat. After your dog has mastered shake, try the variations wave and high five. For wave, pull back your hand when your dog moves to shake it. This will leave your pet’s paw in the air, creating a waving effect. Tell your dog “wave” and offer praise. If you’re offering her a treat, she’ll likely hold her paw up higher with time. For high five, rather than taking your dog’s paw in your hand, offer up your palm and meet the pad for his paw instead. Say “high five” and reward your pet.
To teach your dog to roll over, first tell him to lie down. Offer a treat positioned to the side near his hip to prompt your dog to lie on his side and retrieve it. Allow him to take it and offer praise and then quickly offer a second treat, this time using it as a lure to get him to lie on his back. When he reaches his back -- his paws in the air -- tell him, “roll over” and then give him the reward. If your dog is having difficulty, try placing the treat near his nose to help motivate the movements. You also can gently roll him over yourself while teaching him but make sure you only do so on a soft surface.
A simple variation of roll over is play dead, which also is called take a nap. After your dog is in the rolled over position, say either “play dead” or “take a nap”. To encourage him to stay in the position for several seconds don’t immediately offer him a treat. Instead, after he has stayed put for a period of time say “get up” and then hold out a treat and give him praise when he stands up to get it.
Based in Toronto, J.A. Zander has worked as a full-time journalist since 2004. Zander's work has appeared in Canadian and American magazines, newspapers and websites.