Playing with your pup and getting in plenty of bonding time with them is one of the most rewarding parts of owning a dog. The more time you spend with them, the stronger your bond becomes.
Training is one of the best ways to spend time with your dog and exercise them mentally and physically. It is rewarding for both of you to learn something new and understand what the other one wants.
While not all dogs learn at the same rate, you have plenty of time to work through each of these steadily. Although they are not all necessary for a well-behaved dog, they are fun and can become your or your dog’s favorite tricks.
1. Roll Over
Roll over is a more advanced movement that you can teach your dog after getting accustomed to the “down” position. Get them to lie down and put a treat in your hand. Move your hand around their head to get them to follow it without standing up. As they reach backward, gently roll them over while saying, “roll.”
Once they roll over, even with your help, give them the treat and plenty of praise. Do it multiple times for about 10 minutes. If you want them to learn quickly, you can do this several times for approximately 10-minute sessions each day. Always praise your dog when they roll over, and eventually, they will understand that the “roll” command is associated with rolling over.
2. Shake Hands
Have your dog sit in front of you. Then, say, “shake hands,” and take their paw with your hand, shaking it gently. Reward them with a small treat and praise. After doing this several times each day during training, try to say “shake hands” without taking their paw to see if they will raise their paw themselves. If they don’t, continue to take their paws.
“Shake hands” is one of the more straightforward tricks to learn and can help with dogs that are typically quite stubborn during training sessions.
3. Come When Called
Teaching a dog to “come” is one of the more critical tricks to teach your dog so they will quickly make their way back to you, no matter the situation. Whether you want to use a whistle or say “come,” you want it to be loud enough for them to always hear it, even in a crowd.
Use your summoning sound and blow it or say it once, and then give them a treat. Repeat this several times a day for multiple days. They will associate the sound with a treat, and you can begin to get farther away, and they will come running to you.
As your pup starts to come to the sound that you make, use it as you get farther and farther away. Give them a treat every time they come. If they start to ignore it, get closer, and cover a distance without distractions.
4. Turn Around (Spin)
Turn around is the standing version of “roll over.” Start by having them stand in front of you. Give them a view of the treat in your hand and say “turn around” while leading their nose around. They should walk in a circle. Once they come back all the way around, reward them with the treat and praise.
After practicing this for a while, stop leading them around and only say “turn around.” If they do, reward them effusively. If not, then show them again. Keep the command consistent the whole time.
After your dog learns how to shake hands, you can teach them how to wave. Have your dog sit in front of you and hold your hand out so they think that you want a shake. Instead of grabbing it, pull your hand back, and say “wave.” Follow it up by giving the treat.
Early on during this trick, your dog may keep their paw low. Teach the dog to raise it higher and higher to get the treat. You might be able to get them to wave back and forth by having them follow the treat with their paw.
“Touch” can be a useful trick to teach your dog if you want to quickly get their attention in a dog park or other distracting environment that could cause them anxiety. Get your dog to touch your hand with your nose, perhaps if looking for a treat. When they do, say touch or use a clicker and reward them.
This trick can also be used to teach them later how to touch a bell with their nose. That can be useful for other tricks or letting you know that your dog needs to go outside.
7. Play the Piano
Playing the piano is not one of those tricks that are necessary to teach your dog. However, it is a pretty good party trick. You can buy dog-sized pianos from toy stores.
You can choose whether to train them to play it with their paws or with their nose. Place a treat where you want them to be, and get them to touch the piano and make noise before giving them their treat. It can be more complex and frustrating for dogs who are not quick learners.
8. Jump Through a Hula Hoop
Jumping through a hula hoop is another complicated trick that you can teach your dog. It is also a great one for those pups that need sports agility training to get their mental and physical exercise.
Start by setting the hula hoop on the ground and luring them through it with a treat. Keep it on the ground until they are confident. Give them plenty of praise. When they are firmly established with the grounded hoop, start lifting it slightly off the ground until they need to jump through it to get the treat.
9. Go to Bed
“Go to bed” can be helpful for those moments when it is handy for your dog not to be immediately present. This trick teaches them to go to their bed and lie down in it. Grab their bed or a favorite blanket, and set it about 6-10 feet away from you both. Say “go to bed” and walk with them to their bed. Get them to lie down and give them a treat and plenty of praise.
Repeat this many times throughout several days. Then, you can try sending your dog by themselves. The best way to do so is to have a partner waiting at the bed with a treat for them. After a while, try to tell them to do it by themselves without anyone there. If they do, then walk over to them and reward them.
They need to know that they don’t just go over to the bed but also need to lie down. Try not to tell them to “lie down,” since they should know that it is all encompassed in the “go to bed” command.
10. Play Dead
“Play dead” is a fun party trick to use with your pup. This trick takes a little more effort than commands. If they know the phrase “roll over,” it might be easier to teach them this. Get them to lie down and then bring them to the floor. Reward them once they are wholly reposed. There are quite a few ways to teach your dog how to do this trick. Pick one that your dog will understand the best.
11. Take a Bow
“Take a bow” involves getting your dog to put their chest to the ground in front of you while keeping their rear end up in the air. Bowing is not typically as difficult as some people imagine it to be, since it is part of a natural stretching behavior for dogs. You can use multiple methods for this trick as well.
One method to use is to watch when your dog takes a big stretch. Say “take a bow” and reward them with a treat. If you want to be more direct, start with your dog in a standing position. Put a treat on the floor in front of them to get them to bend down. If they try to lie down to get it, slip your hand under their belly and keep their rear in the air. Keep them there for a second, repeating the saying, “take a bow.”
Yawn is a quirky trick that you can teach them using a command like “Yawn,” “Are you sleep?” or something similar. Every time they yawn, say the words and reward them with a treat. If your dog yawns frequently, then they will probably learn this trick faster.
13. Give a Kiss
Training your dog to kiss you is one of the easiest tricks to teach your dog because they often enjoy doing, so anyway. Teaching them this trick can also help them know the appropriate times to lick and when it is unwanted.
To teach them, put a treat near your check and add your command word of choice. When they go in for the kiss, give them the treat and plenty of praise. This trick is often quite popular with kids.
14. Speak (and Quiet)
Teaching your dog when to speak is an excellent way to help them know when it is appropriate and when it isn’t. Start by trying to encourage your dog to bark, and then use the command “speak.” Do not reward them until they make a noise.
If you can’t elicit a bark from your dog, then have them sit in front of you and wave a treat until they make a noise. When you’re done, tell them to “hush” or “quiet,” and then walk away so they know when to stop.
15. Back Up
Teaching your dog to reverse on command is handy for numerous situations, especially if they like to be close to you all the time. Start by standing in front of your dog, and walk toward them. Say “go back” while they automatically walk backward to get out of your way. Eventually, after repetition, you should be able to say “go back” without moving.
Fetch can be easy to teach some dogs and a challenge for others. Dogs like retrievers are often naturally fetchers, while other dogs won’t ever return the ball to you. Those dogs that don’t will need extra training to do so.
One way to teach them is to carefully cut a slit into a tennis ball and insert treats inside. Make sure they know that the treats are there. Then, throw the ball. They will chase it because they want treats. Once they go run for the ball, give them a treat. Keep doing this until they don’t need a treat anymore to run after the ball.
17. Stand Up
Getting your dog to stand up can mean stand from a sitting position or stand up on their back paws. The latter is the more challenging of the two. Getting them to stand on command from a sitting position helps if you need them to be ready to move or relocate them to a different area.
To convince your dog to stand up from a sitting or lying position, allow them to see the treat in your hand. Once they see it, back away from them slightly and say “stand,” so they have to stand up to follow it. As soon as your pup gets up, reward them with the treat and praise. Continue to do this until they stand on command without seeing a treat.
18. Sit Pretty (Cross Your Paws)
Teaching your dog how to “sit pretty” is a great way to show off a new trick without having to do much extra work. Start with your dog lying down. Then, use a treat to get them to lay their paw on top of your hand.
Once they do this, begin to move their paw in the air before rewarding them with a treat. Then, begin to bring your hand with their paw over their other paw, getting them to cross it. With practice, you should be able to get your dog to follow your hand across their body, crossing their paw over the other as you go, and then be rewarded with a treat.
“Hug” is a sweet one to get your dog to learn. There are multiple methods that you can use to teach your dog how to hug. You can kneel in front of them and put a treat on your shoulder, getting them to bring their paws up to you before rewarding them.
If you want a standing hug, start by standing in front of them. Show them a treat close to your face or wherever their standing height is. Pat the area and say, “hug,” while getting them to stand up and throw their paws around you. Then, give them the treat.
20. High Five
Teaching “high five” is an extension of the wave trick and is similar to the touch trick. Instead of bringing their nose to your hand, though, they bring their paw up. This will be easy to teach if they already know the “wave” trick.
When they lift their paw high, meet it with yours, and say “high five.” When the paw and hand touches, you can reward them with a treat and praise.
Almost any dog can be taught to dance, but it is easier for small dogs because they have less weight to heave into the air.
Start this trick with your dog in a sitting position in front of you. Then, hold a treat in your closed hand close to their nose. Steadily lift it up and slightly behind their head so they look backward and have to stand on their hind legs to view it easily. As they rise on their legs, reward them with the treat. Repeat this process until they can steadily stand up.
As they get good at this, start to get them to stand and then move the treat in a circle around their head, saying the word “dance.” They should begin to turn while standing. If your dog is prone to back problems, don’t try to teach them this trick.
22. Which One
“Which one” is like training your dog to play a game with you. Place a treat in one of your hands and show it to your dog. Then, close both of your hands into fists and hold them in front of your dog. Say, “Which one?”
Your dog will try to pry open the fist they think that the treat is in. They might do it with their nose or mouth, but don’t reward them until they use their paw. Then, open your hand and give them the treat. Do this until your pup only uses their paw to select the hand with the treat.
23. Ring a Bell
Ringing a bell is easy to do once you have taught your dog how to touch your hand with their nose. Teach them to ring a bell the same way, giving them a treat each time they tap the bell and make it ring with their nose.
Retrieve is a trick that you can do with a vast amount of material, including a ball, a tissue, the newspaper, and more. Once they learn how to do it with a ball, teach them the words for certain things and how to pick it up and retrieve it back to you. Dogs have a large capacity for vocabulary and can learn even how to bring you your slippers. Only reward them when they don’t chew on it.
“Crawl” is a trick that can take a while to teach your dog but is a rewarding trick to show later on. It is easiest to do once they have learned how to lie down on command. Put the treat in front of them while they are lying down. Then, move it away from them.
Most dogs will want to stand up to go after the treat. When they start to raise their back end, gently tap it back down. Generally, out of a desire for the treat, they will scooch slightly forward to get to it. Give them loads of praise and the treat even for the tiniest scooch forward. Practice it multiple times a day.
When they get used to it with you sitting next to them, you’ll need to get them used to it when you stand. You can put treats on a string and slowly pull them forward while you stand to get them to crawl with you upright. This should acclimate them to any crawling situation.
Featured Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstck
- 1. Roll Over
- 2. Shake Hands
- 3. Come When Called
- 4. Turn Around (Spin)
- 5. Wave
- 6. Touch
- 7. Play the Piano
- 8. Jump Through a Hula Hoop
- 9. Go to Bed
- 10. Play Dead
- 11. Take a Bow
- 12. Yawn
- 13. Give a Kiss
- 14. Speak (and Quiet)
- 15. Back Up
- 16. Fetch
- 17. Stand Up
- 18. Sit Pretty (Cross Your Paws)
- 19. Hug
- 20. High Five
- 21. Dance
- 22. Which One
- 23. Ring a Bell
- 24. Retrieve
- 25. Crawl