Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Whatever their age, dogs love to learn and thrive off of mental stimulation. Teaching your dog new tricks is a great way to keep their brains busy as well as being an excellent bonding experience for you both. If your dog has already mastered the basic 'sit', 'stay' and 'down', then these tricks should provide the right level of challenge for your canine companion. Generally, training sessions should not last more than 10 minutes as dogs tend to have shorter attention spans and will often get restless after this amount of time, making them less likely to listen to you. Remember, positivity is key when training your dog, so make sure to offer them lots of praise every time they get something right. Do not get frustrated with your dog if they are not picking things up as quickly as you'd like, they will feel your negative energy and it will only make them feel worse. And always end each training session with playtime so that your pup links training to a fun activity!
This simple trick is a good one to start with and is especially good for older dogs who may be less mobile. Simply ask your dog to go into a "down" or laying position. Then, put a treat in your hand and move your hand slowly behind your dog's neck. Your goal is to get your dog to turn their head backwards without standing up. Then, as your dog reaches their head back to sniff the treat, gently roll them over. As soon as your dog rolls over, give them the treat and make a fuss of them. Repeat the process and as you start to roll it over, say the command "roll" and when you dog goes completely over, treat them and give them praise again. Eventually, your pet should understand that the command and the rolling process are directly linked. After your pet rolls over when asked, you no longer need to offer a treat each time, but still be sure to praise them.
Shake Hands or Paw
Teaching a dog to shake hands is generally a fairly easy trick because it is more of a natural action for them. To teach your dog paw, start by asking your dog to sit. Then, put a treat in your hand and slowly move it towards the ground near the dog's paw. As your dog raises their paw in anticipation, use the verbal cue "shake" or "paw," give them the treat, then praise your dog enthusiastically. As you practice this, hold your hand gradually higher so your dog must raise their paw higher to gain the treat. Your goal is to have your dog raise its paw to chest height. Keep practising and always use the same paw for training. Eventually, once your dog holds their paw up on command, you can switch to the other paw. This trick is also useful to learn for cutting your dogs claws!
As soon as your dog masters the "shake" command, it's fairly simple to teach them to do a "high five." Start by asking your dog to do the "shake" command, but begin to hold your palm out and as your dog hits your palm, give the command "high five." Make sure you treat and praise your dog immediately afterwards. Your goal here is to get your dog to raise their paw as high as possible and to touch your open palm. We think this one makes a super fun party trick!
This is a trick that is definitely easier for smaller breeds to learn, however bigger dogs are capable too! The idea of this trick is to get your dog up on their back legs to a standing position, before getting them to spin in a circle, or dance! Start with your dog in a sitting position and hold a treat in your closed hand near their nose. Slowly lift your hand over and slightly behind your dog's head so they look back and begin to stand on their hind legs. As soon as your dog stands up, praise them and give them the treat. Repeat the process until your dog stands quickly and sturdily on their back legs. Then, begin moving the treat above your dog's head in a small circle. As soon as your dog begins to step in a circle, use the term "dance" and offer praise and the treat. And now you have a dancing dog!
We hope you managed to teach your dog something new! Remember, always remain calm and patient when teaching your dog something new, and give them plenty of time, praise and affection. What tricks does your dog know? Let us know in the comments below!