Once your dog has mastered the execution of basic obedience commands, such as sit, down, stay and come, you have the starting points for a variety of cool tricks to teach your dog. Understanding how to teach your dog tricks requires little more than patience, practice and a handful of tasty treats.
How to Teach Your Dog Tricks
Dog treats are your friend. They are the bribery to motivate the dog to learn and perform a trick. They are also the reward for performance. As you coach your dog through a new trick, the treats and enthusiastic praise will serve as positive reinforcement each time the dog does what you want it to do. Once the trick is mastered, reward all future performances of the trick with a treat. Think of the treat as your little furry performer’s fee for entertaining you.
Teaching your dog new tricks should be enjoyable for the dog. This should be a bonding activity between you and your dog. Do not scold or punish the dog if it does not master the moves right away. Intelligent breeds, such as many of the working and herding dogs, breeds that historically performed in circus rings and breeds that are known to excel in agility and other similar activities are likely to learn new tricks more quickly than others. Any dog can learn a new trick, but your patience is imperative.
Most dogs have short attention spans. Keep the training sessions short and frequent, and keep working with your dog to practice the trick again and again. Whether it takes your dog two days or two weeks to successfully perform the trick on its own, work at your dog’s comfortable pace. Do not teach your dog the next new trick until it has mastered the current lesson. Each day, have your dog perform the entire repertoire of tricks that it has mastered.
Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog
There are probably at least 100 dog tricks that are being performed by canines every day. Some easy popular tricks that you can teach your dog include:
• Shaking paws
• Taking a bow
• Rolling over
• Standing up
• Balancing a treat on its nose
• Standing and walking on the hind legs
For these tricks, begin from the most logical basic command that will serve as the starting point for the trick. For example, the dog needs to sit before learning to shake a paw or sit up on its haunches. The dog must be instructed to sit and lie down before it can roll over. Once the basic command is performed, follow through the rest of the trick by directing with the treat. To teach a sitting dog to stand, you need to hold the treat above the dog’s head at a height that it will need to stand in order to come closer to reaching the treat. Some tricks, such as rolling over or taking a bow, will require you to gently position the dog and physically guide it through the trick. Follow every repetition of the lesson with resounding words of praise and a rewarding treat.
The abovementioned dog tricks are usually taught for family entertainment purposes, but you can also teach your dog a few tricks that will put it to work as your little household helper. You might train your dog to fetch the remote control, the mail or newspaper and other objects. Your dog might even bring you a towel on command as you step out of your morning shower.
Benefits of Teaching Your Dog New Tricks
Teaching your dog some new tricks will provide a daily opportunity for bonding with your dog. Dogs are social creatures, and most of them want to please their owners. Some tricks can be helpful in keeping your dog safe. For example, teaching your dog to back up on command can come in handy when opening the front door to admit guests into your home. Some dogs, especially the herding breeds, are as active in mind as they are in body. They need a steady dose of mental stimulation because they are always in need of a job to do. Teaching your dog new tricks to build up its repertoire helps to satisfy that need and to keep the dog focused and out of trouble. If your dog enjoys learning new tricks and might be a good candidate for agility coursing, teaching the dog to crawl through tunnels and under low horizontal bars and to jump over higher ones and through hoops will be an excellent start to its canine athletic career.
Choose the Tricks Wisely
Be sure to consider the dog when selecting a trick for it to learn. Some tricks may be frightening to some dogs. To teach a dog to roll over, the instructor must roll the dog onto its back, which is a position of submission. If your dog is uncomfortable in that position, you must not force the issue. Instead, focus on gaining the dog’s complete trust before attempting this trick. Chondrodytrophic breeds, such as the dachshund, should not be encouraged to perform any trick that involved sitting up on its haunches or standing on its hind legs. Such performances can result in severe spinal injuries to which these breeds are already prone.
Once your dog has some new learned tricks up its furry sleeve, it will be ready to steal the show at your next gathering or at the next dog park outing.
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