While many dog tricks might look hard to teach, most of them are easier than you would think. But all tricks, regardless of difficulty level, are a great way to give your dog mental stimulation and improve your bond. If you want to start trick training with your dog, these five easy and fun tricks could be a great place to start.
Step 1: Hold a treat in a closed hand so your dog can smell it but not access it. Present your hand to your dog, and they should try to get the treat from it. Mark and reward them if they contact your hand with their paws. Repeat several times until your dog starts using their paw first every time.
Step 2: Present your hand to your dog like you did in step one but this time without the treat. Mark and reward if they touch your hand with their paw. If they don’t attempt this, then go back to step one.
Step 3: Offer your dog your hand with your palm open after a few repetitions of step 2. Mark and reward if they put their paw in your hand and repeat this until they consistently offer their paw.
Step 4: Offer your hand to your dog again, but this time mark and reward after they raise their paw, before touching your hand. Gradually move your hand out of their reach as you continue repetitions. Continue doing this until your dog raises their paw consistently when you hold out your hand.
Step 5: Add your cue by saying it before you raise your hand, and mark and reward when your dog raises their paw. Gradually start moving your hand less and less after saying your cue until your dog raises their paw to wave at you.
Jump into Arms
Step 1: Sit on the ground and use a treat to lure your dog into your lap. Once they are in your lap, mark and reward them.
Step 2: Sit on a chair and repeat step 1, rewarding when your dog jumps into your lap. If your dog is struggling with this step, use a lower chair or a step stool.
Step 3: Once your dog is comfortable jumping into your lap, start adding your cue. To do this, say the cue first, lure them into your lap, and reward them. As your dog gets more familiar with the behavior, start to reduce the amount of luring until they can jump into your lap from the cue alone.
Step 4: Now that your dog consistently jumps into your lap on cue, it’s time to start gradually standing up. You can do this by either stacking objects underneath you on the chair or by leaning against a wall like a wall seat. At this point, start catching your dog with your arms when they land in your lap.
Step 5: Continue getting closer and closer to standing until your dog can no longer jump onto your lap and instead jumps up and relies on you to catch them.
Step 1: Start with a low platform that can hold your dog’s weight, such as a piece of plywood. Lay the platform on the ground, lure your dog onto it, and then off it and reward them.
Step 2: Lean the platform against a wall at a low incline and repeat step 1. Once your dog is comfortable with this, reward them only after they have jumped both on and off the platform.
Step 3: Gradually increase the platform’s incline as your dog gets comfortable with jumping on and off it. You can add the cue by telling your dog the cue, luring them on and off the platform, and then rewarding them.
Step 4: Keep creating a steeper incline with the platform until it is vertical against the wall. If your dog starts to struggle, decrease the steepness of the slope.
Step 5: Once your dog can do the trick on cue when the platform is vertical, remove it and ask them to do the cue against the wall. If they are comfortable with that, you can start asking them to rebound against other objects, including your body.
Step 1: Start by creating a narrow channel that your dog can’t turn around in. This doesn’t have to be fancy; you can do something as simple as placing boxes about a foot away from a wall.
Step 2: Have your dog walk into the channel so that their head is at one opening and the other opening is behind them. Stand facing them at the opening of the channel and walk towards them until they back up. Click and reward as soon as they take a single step backward. Repeat this process several times.
Step 3: Continue walking towards them and rewarding them when they step backward, gradually increasing the distance they have to back up before earning their reward.
Step 4: Once your dog is consistently walking backward when you step towards them, start to say your cue before stepping towards them. Continue to reward them when they back up.
Step 5: Gradually start to fade your movement by saying the cue and waiting a moment for them to back up. If they move backward even slightly, then click and reward. If they don’t back up, then lean or walk towards them until they step backward, and then reward them. Repeat this process until they are backing up on the cue alone.
Step 1: Hold a treat between your middle and ring finger and present your hand to your dog. When they touch their nose to your hand, let them eat the treat. Repeat several times.
Step 2: Present your hand to your dog like you did in step 1, but this time without the treat. Your dog should still expect a treat there, so that they will put their nose to your hand again. As soon as they touch your hand, mark, and reward. Repeat until they consistently touch your hand every time it is presented to them.
Step 3: Add your cue by saying it before presenting your hand and then marking and rewarding when they touch it.