Have you ever wondered what are the most valuable and entertaining tricks to teach your dog? And even if you know which ones you want your puppy to learn — how do you do it?
The most crucial aspect of dog training is to stay patient. Dogs don’t understand our language, so they need consistency to get what you’re teaching them. Well, using lots of treats and petting also helps.
Our list of 20 doggie tricks and how to train them is at your service.
You’ll find out:
- Why Should You Teach Your Dog New Tricks?
- How to Teach Your Dog Effectively
- Smart Basic Dog Tricks
- Fun Doggie Tricks
- What to Avoid
- How Many Tricks Can a Doggie Learn
Why Teaching Your Dog Tricks Is Valuable
Playing with your doggies and teaching them tricks is an excellent way to spend time with them. Plus, it makes us happy. Interacting with our beloved pets stimulates our brains to secrete oxytocin — the hormone of love, bonding, and parental care.
Such interaction is also beneficial for your doggy. Learning tricks teaches pups obedience, stimulates their brains, and contributes to their health through exercise.
How to Teach Your Dog Tricks Effectively
The methods we use when training our dogs affect their learning process and overall well-being. Multiple studies show that punishment-based training decreases dogs’ ability to learn new tricks. Plus, it increases anxiety and makes the dog fear its owner.
In contrast, teaching your dogs tricks through reward-based training has been shown to produce smarter and happier puppies.
What’s more, Benjamin Franklin suggested that if we treat someone (in this case, our dogs) badly, we might start disliking them. This is due to an effect called cognitive dissonance. It’s a feeling of mental discomfort due to conflicting beliefs. Our brains try to reason our behavior by “blaming” the victim:
“If I’m hitting my dog, it must be a bad dog to deserve this behavior.”
The good news is that the opposite is true, as well. If we treat our pets with kindness, our love for them will increase. So what are the ways to teach your dog tricks without being mean to it?
It’s a sound marker that tells your dog what the desired behavior is. After every click, a reward should follow. That’s how your dog associates the sound with a pleasant outcome.
Treats should be a must on a new puppy shopping checklist. Our pooches love food. Rewarding them with a delicious snack every time they perform a trick speeds up training immensely.
- Training collars
We don’t mean those that use electricity to shock your dog. A good quality vibrating dog training collar can do the same job as a clicker, conditioning your pup to associate the vibration with reward.
When to Teach Your Dog Tricks
You can start training as soon as your pup becomes seven or eight weeks old. Bear in mind that young puppies have short attention spans and can only be trained for a few minutes.
The best time to teach your dog tricks is before a meal. When puppies are hungry, they’re more likely to work for their treats. But don’t starve your doggie before training. Always provide adequate amounts of food to ensure the well-being of your pet.
The Essential Tricks Every Dog Should Know
Are you wondering what tricks to teach your dog? It’s best to start with the basics. Without these, you’ll have a hard time controlling your pup, especially when outside surrounded by other dogs.
1. Come Here
One of the best tricks to teach a dog is the so-called reliable recall. This means that every time you call for your dog, it’ll come, no matter where either of you are. It’s an important command that builds trust. Plus, you’ll be able to let your dog sniff around, leash off, and ensure your pet won’t get lost or run away.
How your pup views you is crucial for this to work. To master the “come here” trick, your puppy should see you as the best person to be around. You can easily achieve this with lots of praise, petting, and delicious treats.
- Start at home. Training your pup to respond to the “Come here” cue should begin in an environment with minimal distractions.
- Show your doggie a treat and tell it to come to you. Always use the same word to call your dog.
- When your pet comes, give the reward and praise it. Teaching your puppy a trick should be consistent, so do it several times a day for a week.
- Take Cookie for a walk and let her roam in a fenced space off-leash. Make sure you’re alone in the area as other dogs pose a distraction. Call Cookie and reward her with a favorite snack.
- Gradually, introduce your dog to more distracting environments, such as bigger parks with lots of people and dogs.
2. Sit Down
Teaching dogs new tricks has been shown to delay cognitive decline, exercise the brain, and bring joy to both the owner and pet.
For instance, the “Sit” clue is essential to prevent your pup from running around and creating chaos. It’s also a great trick to use before serving their food, so your pooch doesn’t get in the way and spill the dinner on the floor.
- While the pup is standing, hold a treat in your hand and take it close to your dog’s nose.
- Tell your puppy to sit and slowly move your hand towards its backside. While trying to take the treat, your pet will follow the hand with its head and eventually sit down.
- Be quick to praise your dog and give it the treat.
- As your puppy learns to sit, stop using your hand and give only the cue.
3. Stay Still
Of all the ways to teach your dog tricks, the best one so far is through positive reinforcement. So if you want your doggie to stay still on your command, reward it every time it does.
- Tell your pup to sit.
- Hold your hand close to your dog’s nose and say: “Stay.”
- Keep holding your hand close to its nose for two more seconds and give it the treat.
- Repeat a few times a day as part of your puppy’s training routine.
- Next, don’t keep your hand up and try the command without a treat.
- Slowly increase the time between the command and the praise.
4. Go Potty
One of the most time-saving commands on our list of tricks to teach your dog is teaching it to go to the toilet. The potty command will help you immensely during the colder months when you want to go home ASAP.
- Take your puppy out.
- As soon as you see it preparing to do the job, tell your dog: “Go potty.”
- When it’s done, reward it with a treat and lots of petting. Over time, your puppy will learn that going to the toilet on command earns your love and affection.
5. Ring the Bell
It’s among the basic tricks to teach your dog, similar to “Go potty.” Only here your puppy’s giving you the cue that it needs to go out to the toilet.
This is a useful trick, especially if you’re potty training. It’ll help your doggie avoid in-house incidents and make your life easier.
- Attach a doorbell high enough for your puppy to reach it.
- Every time you take your dog out to potty, ring the bell and give it treats.
- Ask “Do you need potty?” when going out and encourage your pup to ring the bell. Then, give treats and praise.
6. Go to Crate
If you’re crate training your dog, you’ll find this puppy trick quite useful. Teaching your pet to love its comfy den is an essential part of the training.
- Take your puppy to its crate.
- Tell your dog to go inside and lure it with a treat.
- Praise and give it the treat. Repeat several times a day for a few days.
- Then, try giving the cue without a treat.
It’s vital to start teaching this trick only after the puppy has already gotten used to the crate. Never force your pooch to enter, or it might become frightened and start despising the crate.
It’s one of the easy tricks to teach your dog. Some dogs are more vocal than others (I’m sure you’ve seen a video of singing Huskies).
To stop dog barking, follow these steps:
- When your pup starts barking, give it a few moments to enjoy its voice.
- Then, tell your cue of choice — “Quiet,” “Shh,” or “Stop Barking.”
- Your puppy will stop for at least a second. That’s when to reward and praise it.
- Repeat every time your puppy starts barking. That’s how to tell it: “I hear you, but it’s time to stop shouting.”
8. Let Go
One of the most useful tricks to teach your dog is the “Release” or “Let go” command. It teaches your pup to drop whatever is in its mouth without you having to run after and wrestle to get it.
It can also be a life-saving command if your pup gets into a fight with another dog or person. That might never happen, but it’s good to be prepared.
- During playtime, wait for your pup to have its favorite toy in its mouth.
- Tell your pet to let go and present a treat close to its nose.
- As Cookie releases the toy to eat the treat, praise her and give the treat.
- Repeat several times.
- Stop showing the treat and use only the command.
9. Lay Down
One of the essential tricks to teach your dog is the “Lay down” cue. Instead of constantly telling your dog what not to do, try giving it an order that’ll force your pet to change its behavior.
- Tell your dog to sit down.
- Say “Lay down,” and bring a treat close to its nose.
- Slowly take the treat down towards your pup’s front feet.
- As soon as your dog’s entire body is on the ground, give it the treat and praise it.
- Start giving the cue without showing the treat.
“Search” is one of the hard tricks to teach your dog. Professional trainers often use it to make police dogs search for missing people or drugs. Our fluffy friends have also been trained to detect positive COVID-19 samples through the scent of the respiratory infection.
Here’s how to teach your pup to search for items with your smell.
- Tell your pup to sit down and let it smell a piece of your clothing — a sock, a glove, or a T-shirt.
- Then, position the item on the other side of the room in plain sight.
- Tell your pooch to “Find.”
- When it “finds” the object, reward your pup with lots of high-value treats.
- After a few days of training, start hiding the clothing.
11. Open/Close the Door
One of the little-known tricks to teach your dog is the “Open/close the door.” It can be incredibly useful when you’re doing chores and need a “hand” to open the door for you. Service dogs also learn this trick to open and close doors for their disabled owners.
- Tie an old cloth to the door handle.
- Encourage your pup to pull on the fabric to open the door.
- When your dog succeeds, praise it and give it treats.
- Introduce the “Open the door” cue.
- Teach your pet to close the door by opening it. Then, encourage your pup to push it with its paws.
12. Lights On/Off
Another one of the advanced dog tricks is teaching your dog to turn the lights on and off. For a lazy owner like myself, this trick is irreplaceable. No more getting out of bed in the evening to turn off the lights.
- Go near a light switch and tell your dog to sit down.
- Show your pup the treat in your hand.
- Hold the treat in front of the switch and encourage your dog to jump and take it.
- As it touches the switch and turns the lights on/off, praise your pet and give it a few treats.
13. Give Paw
The number of possible tricks to teach your dog is only up to your imagination. Your pup can learn to do almost anything if you’re dedicated.
Why not start with a cool and useful command like “Give paw”? You can turn it into a greeting, and it’s helpful if you want to learn how to groom a dog. Clipping your dog’s nails can be challenging without it.
- Tell your puppy to sit down.
- Show a treat and tell your dog to give you a paw.
- Show your pet what you mean by taking a paw and raising it toward you.
- Give it the treat and repeat several times.
- Stop raising the paw and only use the cue.
14. Refuse Food From Strangers
One of the best tricks to teach a dog is how to refuse food from other people. It’s a life-saving trick if your dog’s allergic to dog food ingredients like wheat, soy, or dairy.
- Make mealtime a ritual by telling your pup to sit down and wait before it starts eating.
- Tell Cookie to sit down and stay still.
- Place the food bowl in front of her.
- Wait for a few moments and tell her: “Enjoy your meal,” gesturing toward the food.
- Vary the time between giving food and allowing her to eat, so she learns to start only after you tell her.
- Ask a friend to offer her food to see if she learned the lesson.
Tricks to Teach Your Dog Just for Fun
The following list of dog tricks is not essential for your doggie’s well-being or health. But showing your dog new commands is enjoyable and beneficial for both of you. So why not teach a few just for fun?
Teaching your dog to jump is surprisingly easy. Most dogs start doing it when they’re excited. Why would you want your pup to do that, you ask? Well, who doesn’t like puppy hugs?
Besides, jumping is one of the most straightforward clicker tricks to teach your dog.
- Tell your pup to sit down.
- Take a treat in your hand and raise it above your dog’s head.
- Tell your pup to jump.
- If the dog’s unsure what you want from it, move a step closer. It’ll have to jump to back up.
- As your pup raises its front paws, use the clicker and give it the treat.
- After a few days, stop raising your hand and use only the “Jump” cue.
16. Play Dead
One of the many fun tricks to teach your dog is “Play dead.” It’s also an excellent way to show off your pup’s skills to friends.
- Tell your dog to lay down.
- Give it the “Play dead” command and lure your pet to lay on one side with a treat.
- Once your pup’s on its back, give it the treat.
While Fetch is the most famous dog game, it’s also one of the easiest tricks to teach your dog in 1 day.
- Toss your dog’s favorite toy across the room.
- Say “Fetch,” and encourage your pup to take the toy.
- When your dog comes to you with a toy in its mouth, tell it to release and give it a treat.
Teaching your puppy to bark can be a fun experience, too.
- Wait until your dog starts barking on its own. It might be when a bell rings, or you meet other dogs in the park. You can also stimulate your pup to bark by…barking at it. Just do it in a cheery non-threatening way.
- Give the “Speak” cue and reward your pup.
19. Pick Up Toys
One of the cool tricks to teach your dog is to pick up its toys before a playing session.
- Pick up one of your pup’s toys and tell it what you’re holding (e.g., “Ball”).
- Leave the toy on the floor and tell your dog to “Pick up the ball.”
- Reward it with lots of hugs and treats.
20. Roll Over
This is the last command on our list of tricks to teach your dog. It’s fun to watch, and rubbing your doggie’s belly is a reward in itself.
- Tell your puppy to lay down.
- Hold a treat in your hand and move it from your pup’s nose toward its shoulder.
- Say “Roll over” while still moving the treat in the same direction. This will make your puppy roll.
- Reward your dog with treats and praise.
What to Avoid When Teaching Your Dogs Tricks
When you’re interacting with your puppy, try to be as calm and positive as possible. Negativity and anger can ruin your friendship and make your dog lonely and depressed.
To avoid that, follow our advice:
- Don’t Shout
Shouting won’t help your dog to understand you better. On the contrary, your pup will be confused and won’t know why you’re “barking” at it. Your anger will make the dog feel threatened, and over time it might become aggressive.
- Don’t Use Force
When teaching your dog tricks, never use punishment. Multiple studies prove the negative outcome of force during pup training, ranging from depression to aggression. Don’t beat your puppy. It only wants your love and attention.
- Don’t Isolate
If your pup doesn’t get what you want from it, revise the basic tricks to teach your dog. Training takes time and effort. Getting angry at your dog and isolating it won’t solve your problems.
Also, isolation can physically harm your dog, pushing it towards destructive behavior out of loneliness. One of the vital pet safety tips is never to leave your puppy alone for too long. It needs your companionship and love to stay healthy and happy.
How Many Tricks Can a Dog Learn?
Tricks condition your dog to perform in exchange for treats, praise, or other rewards. But some of these behaviors are taught unconsciously.
For instance, your puppy gets excited when it sees you picking up the leash as it expects a walk. And your pup probably turns its head toward you when it hears you opening the fridge.
So if we count all these behaviors a dog learns together with the ones you intentionally teach it, your pup can learn more than a hundred different tricks.
Teaching your dog tricks is a fantastic way to spend time together and exercise both the brain and muscles of your pooch. Plus, it contributes to your pet’s health and happiness.
You can choose to show your doggie only the essential tricks, like “Sit,” “Lay down,” and “Stay still.” Or you could go wild and teach your pup to jump and roll. Whatever you decide, remember always to use positive reinforcement and stay patient. There are hundreds of different tricks to teach your dog — unleash your imagination and have fun!