Easy and Cool Dog Tricks

There are many easy, fun and cool dog tricks you can teach your dog.

Many breeds of dogs were developed to work, and unless you have sheep to herd or acres of squirrels to hunt, your dog could probably use a little extra work to do.

Other advantages to teaching your dog tricks:

  • Most training should be structured play. Dogs enjoy learning, and the more they learn, the more they learn how to learn.
  • Many dogs love to work. Your dog does not differentiate between trick training and formal obedience.
  • It teaches your dog to pay attention to you and to enjoy it.
  • Your kids can show off the smartest dog in the neighborhood.
  • Sometimes it is just darn cute.

With a little imagination, you can teach your dog all sorts of easy tricks. Sometimes the trick itself isn't that fancy, but if you are creative with the command, you can make it really cute.

Speak, Bark and Count
A previous Rottweiler of mine not only knew basic arithmetic, he could calculate square roots and do division. How? Pretty easy to teach, if you have a dog who barks.

First, I shaped the behavior. Whenever I knew he was about to bark (hello squirrel), I'd raise a finger and ask, what's one plus one? The instant he woofed once, he got praised. After a while, all I had to do was get him geeked up, then raise a finger and woof! From there it was easy.

Bosco, what is one plus one? Woof!

Square root of one? Woof!

One divided by one? Woof!

I could tell people my dog could do arithmetic, and prove it.

What if your dog is very vocal and doesn't stop at just one woof but lets out a volley of barks? Change the command. Ask him to tell you a story or tell you how much he likes his dinner.

A handy thing about teaching a dog to speak on command is that you can then teach him to stop barking on command. Very useful for a problem barker. Tell him good dog and reward the minute he stops barking.

Spin Around
With the dog in front of you, lure him into a circle with a treat, rewarding once he's done a complete turn. This won't take him long to learn. Once he's got the concept, use the treat intermittently, but always give both a verbal command and the spin hand signal so he follows your finger.

You can have him spin right on "Spin" and left on "Nips" (spin backwards). Or use "Left and "Right". With a little practice, he'll be able to do this dog trick just on your hand signal alone.

Roll Over
If your dog knows "Down", start with that position. If he doesn't lie down on command, just wait until he is already lying down. Again, you need a really yummy treat for this. Tell him, "Roll over" or "Toes up" or "Play dead" or whatever you choose, while moving the treat in front of his nose so he has to roll over onto his back to get it. The very instant he's fully on his back, give him that treat. As with all dog training, timing is crucial so the dog understands precisely what's expected.

If your dog is old or may have back or joint problems, don't force this trick if he seems unwilling. This needs to be fun for the dog, not painful.

Under the Bridge
I made this one up for one of my current dogs. On the command, he'll walk through my legs, and I can line several people in a row and he'll go under the bridge.

Stand with your legs apart so your dog can easily walk through. Lure him with a treat and as always praise lavishly. Once he's got the hang of this, you can have him go back and forth weaving around your legs. This one is particularly cute with small dogs! Combine it with "Spin" and you have a fancy freestyle dance move.

Shake Paw, Wave and High-Five
Super easy. Some dogs offer their paw naturally and it's a really easy trick to teach.

Beginner: Have your dog sit. Many dogs find it difficult to raise a paw while standing. Gently pick up a paw while saying "Shake," or whichever word you choose. Praise like crazy. It won't take long before he offers his paw when you hold out your hand.

Intermediate: Ask for alternating paws. Say "Other paw" or use "Left" and "Right."

Advanced: Hold your hand higher and ask for high five, so he has to raise his paw high to meet your hand.

Wave bye-bye: Starting with very little distance between you and your dog, ask for his paw, but don't take it in your hand. Gradually increase distance until he will raise his paw from several feet away. If you need to use treats to get him started, toss it when he raises his paw. Now you can have your dog wave a cute "Bye-bye" to departing guests.

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