Because training is a repetitive process, your dog will consume quite a few treats in a short amount of time. Help your pooch avoid weight gain by using small, low-calorie treats for training. Pieces of kibble will also do, as will plain carrots or green beans!
2. A Clicker
A clicker is a small noisemaker that emits a clicking sound. As the dog trainer, you click the clicker when your dog completes a trick, and then you reward them with a treat. According to the American Kennel Club:
The value of the clicker is that it tells your dog exactly which behavior you’re rewarding. By clicking at the right time, you can “mark” the moment your dog did what you wanted. So rather than having to guess what you liked, the click tells your dog precisely what they did correctly. For example, if you’re training your dog to sit, you would click at the moment your dog’s butt hit the ground.
A word, such as “Good!” can be used instead of a clicker. You can also blow a whistle, click your tongue or snap your fingers. However, a clicker is optimal because it is only used during training.
3. A Little Time
Keep training sessions short, but not too short – around fifteen minutes is the sweet spot. You don’t want to rush or bore your pooch.
The Training Process
All the cool tricks to teach your dog will follow a similar training process. Here’s how it may shake out.
1. Lure Fido with Treats
Start teaching a trick by holding a treat visibly in your hand. This will really get Fido’s attention, and your hand (plus the treat) will guide how they move. For example, when you’re teaching your dog to sit, you’ll hold the treat above their head so that their rear end naturally lands on the ground.
When your pooch completes a trick based on your hand movement, give them a treat!
2. Use Empty Hand Signals
Once Fido is familiar with a trick and motivated by treats, the next step is to use empty hand signals. At this point, start holding treats in your other hand or put them in your pocket.
Take the hand Fido has been watching, and move it in the same way you did before. You might adjust the movement a little to create a hand signal for the specific trick you’re teaching. For “Sit,” the hand signal might just be raising your empty closed fist above your woof’s head.
When Fido responds to your hand signal and performs the trick, reward them with a treat from your other hand or pocket.
3. Say Command Words
As your dog’s understanding of the trick grows, you can add in a verbal cue. This is a command word like “Sit.” Say the command word right before you use your hand signal to create a connection between the two. Continue rewarding your pooch’s success with treats! Eventually, your woof will be able to perform the trick from the command word alone.
Our Top Five Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Now it’s time for the main event: the cool tricks to teach your dog! We chose these five tricks because they’re not only entertaining but also practical. Plus, most of these tricks build off of each other. They’re arranged below in the order that shows how one trick is a stepping stone to the next.
Who needs to shake when you can high-five? Just kidding – “Shake” and “High-Five” are basically the same skill. This is a great first trick for dogs to learn, because it’s very simple. You’ll start by holding a treat toward your woof, and wait until they paw at your hand to give them a bite. From there, follow the training process we laid out above!
As we mentioned earlier, “Sit” can be taught by first holding a treat over your pooch’s head. Don’t give them the treat until their booty hits the ground! “Sit” is a useful trick, as it can come in handy when your dog becomes overexcited and/or starts jumping on people. In the Cesar’s Way blog, 5 Essential Dog Commands, it’s noted that “Sit” “prepares your dog for harder commands such as ‘Stay’ and ‘Come.’”
This trick moves your dog in the opposite direction of “Sit.” You’ll want to hold a treat in front of your pooch’s nose, then bring it to the ground. The goal is for Fido to follow your movement and put their belly toon the floor. “Down” might come into play if you want (or need) your dog to take a nap!
4. Stay and Come
To teach your dog to stay, they must have first mastered “Sit.” For “Stay,” get your woof in a sitting position, then hold your hand up to them, palm out, and say “Stay” (when it’s time to introduce a verbal cue). Back away from your dog. If they stay in place, reward them with a treat! Keep increasing the distance as you get deeper into training.
“Come” is the command you can use to get your dog to break out of “Stay.” To teach your dog to come, start by simply giving your dog a treat when they come toward you. For a full rundown on this trick, check out our blog, How to Teach Your Dog to Come: Reliable Recall Training. We dig into the various training methods and why “come” can be a life-saving skill for your dog.
Once your dog has an understanding of “Stay” and “Come,” you can combine the two for a very impressive performance, like in the video above! These are cool tricks to teach your dog, but they also both help keep your pooch under control.
Okay, so “Spin” may not be the most practical trick, but it sure is cute! To teach your woof to spin, first get them to turn in a circle as they follow a treat in your hand. With enough training, they will build up to spinning on command!
We told you each trick was a building block – now watch how they can be combined in a series! Try to hold your applause and, please, don’t call the pawparazzi.
- To motivate yourself, consider all the reasons why you’re training your dog. There are so many benefits! The time you spend training your woof strengthens the bond between the two of you, and it provides your dog with mental stimulation and exercise. Plus, it helps your pooch become a better-behaved canine.
- If you have multiple dogs, it’s best that you introduce and teach tricks to them one-on-one rather than together. However, once they are familiar with a new trick, they can improve by watching each other perform. Dogs are pack animals who tend to mimic behavior. If they see their brother or sister receive a treat for sitting and staying, they will want to get their paws on the same reward!