Training is an enormous tool in caring for a dog – it not only gives you better control, but also gives your pet the confidence and knowhow when entering an unknown situation. But training doesn’t have to be all ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘come,’ you can have fun with it too! Dogs are generally eager to learn and training gives them mental exercise, which is crucial to their overall wellbeing. Below are three easy tricks to teach your dog to break up the monotony of come-when-called.
“Bow to Me”
Bowing comes naturally to dogs – you’ve probably seen them do it when stretching or prompting a fellow pooch to play – so teaching them to do it on command isn’t such a difficult feat.
- Start with your dog standing up.
- Place one arm underneath your dog’s belly to keep their rear “propped up” during the bow (only for the first few attempts – your dog should catch on quickly to the movement.)
- Place a treat at the tip of his nose and slowly drag it down, near their body, so their eyes (and torso) eventually follow the treat downward.
- Reiterate the command throughout so it registers and he begins to recognize it.
- Once completed, click your clicker (if that’s your training method) and give your dog the treat accompanied by lots of praise and petting.
Not all dogs will master this trick right away so, if you need to, go in phases – click and treat when your pet accomplishes a half bow and from there only treat as they get progressively lower.
“Say Hi (or Bye)”
If your dog already knows shake, waving hello should be a simple transition that’s sure to impress visitors as they’re coming or going. (If he’s not familiar with shake, a quick online tutorial will have you up to snuff in no time.)
- Give your pup the command to shake. When he reached his paw out toward you, raise your hand a bit higher than normal so he has to do the same.
- Once he successfully raises his paw higher, click and treat. Or just praise and treat if you don’t clicker train.
- Repeat this several times while raising your hand higher and higher, until above your dog’s head.
- Now you can start integrating the command. Start with “shake” and, once your dog reaches out, say “wave, wave” and raise your hand higher. As he follows suit, click and treat. Do this repeatedly so he starts recognizing the command and associating it with what you’re doing.
- Now eliminate starting with the command “shake” and just go right into “wave.” Be sure to treat every time so he’ll want to keep at it!
Teaching your dog to spin is easy-peasy, but integrating a direction is downright impressive.
- Start with your dog in a standing position.
- Hold a treat in front of his nose and command him to “right (or left) spin.”
- Slowly pull the treat toward the respective side of his head – his head should automatically follow.
- Pull the treat around their body so they have to move to follow it.
- Be sure to be repeating the command to build his familiarity with it and the action.
- Once he’s completed a full circle, click and treat.
- Focus on one direction at a time until you feel your dog’s ready to switch it up.
Remember that dogs can get restless and sometimes frustrated when training (and he may not be the only one!) so practicing daily for short periods of time is the best way to keep things fun. Training your pet is a wonderful aid in building your relationship with your dog and it’s also a great opportunity to tout your pup’s smarts! Happy training!