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Teaching Your Dog Tricks

There are much more to tricks than a cute puppy doing what you asked. Tricks are vital for your dog’s health!

The benefits of teaching your dog tricks

There are a number of benefits to teaching your puppy tricks. Tricks keep the brain stimulated and give your dog a job. Have you ever been impressed by a working dog and how they stay focused on their handler? You don’t have to put your dog into a K9 training program in order to have a smart dog. Smart dogs listen when they’re called and can perform simple tricks.

These basic commands not only stimulate your dog, but they keep them safe. You want your dog to listen when you call their name instead of running into the road. You don’t want your dog pulling their leash out of your hand when you’re trying to walk them. Knowing a trick as simple as stay can help your pup avoid dangerous situations! Obedience is incredibly important! No puppies up on the counter!

There are tons of options for tricks to teach your dog, but there are a basic 6 that will create a well mannered pup.

6 tricks to teach your dog

  • Sit

  • Roll over

  • Stay

  • Walking on a leash

  • Shake

  • Heel

How to teach dogs tricks

Positive reinforcement is the best way to teach your dog a new trick. You want your dog to feel like they have really done something amazing. Combine the positive reinforcement with short phrases and hand motions.

Positive reinforcement explained

Positive reinforcement means that you give your dog a treat when they do what you ask of them. One way to keep your dog interested in trying new tricks is to provide them with high value treats. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a thirty dollar bag of treats, but instead just to switch things up. Shredded chicken is one example of an affordable high value treat. Chicken is a good choice because it isn’t heavy and shouldn’t cause an upset stomach. Regularly switching out the treats you give your dog for performing well will keep their interest.

Speaking in phrases

Just like with toddlers, you should limit your phrases to one or two words. Consider using one of the following phrases to let your dog know it is time to go outside: time to go potty, let’s go outside, outside time, potty time, bathroom time. Find a phrase and stick to it!

Be consistent with your word choice and speak firmly. If you’re teaching your dog to go outside to potty, then you need to have a key word or phrase for that action. Stick to that phrase each time until they’ve mastered the skill. Don’t change those key phrases until you’re sure your dog has mastered the skill because you can cause significant confusion, and undo what you have taught!

Combining phrases and motions

When you are trying to teach your dog a new skill, you have to combine simple motions with your phrases. Use a hand or body motion each time you say your phrase, and eventually your dog will be able to perform based on either prompting.

To signal for your dog to stay, you should hold your hand up like a stop sign and firmly say stay to your pup. If you want your dog to sit you can point down while you tell them to sit. When you tell your dog to heel on a walk you can pull back slightly on their leash while you say the word heel.

What trick are you going to teach your puppy first? Do you want them to sit and stay or do you want them to respond to their name? Don’t forget, a good treat and an excited tone of voice will help communicate to your dog that they are doing exactly what they should be doing. Good luck with your puppy training!


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