Teach Your Dog Tricks

 

The best dog tricks are tricks that your dog already has a natural inclination toward.  For instance, my dog is an English Springer Spaniel who has very powerful back legs; so her physique is perfect for doing a “sit pretty,” and she learned very quickly that that particular behavior brings her a lot of attention!

I would recommend that you observe your dog for a few weeks and see what natural movements she makes that would be cute if you exaggerated them and put them on cue. 

For instance if your dog has a tendency to cock her head, you could ask her a question (with one word in the question being the cue) and then teach her another behavior which would be the response to the question.  For example, you could ask your dog “What direction does water go down a drain in Australia?” and your dog would look at you with a cocked head as if she’s thinking about it, then would do a spin in a counter-clockwise direction.  When working with your dog training tricks like this, teach each behavior seperately with different cues, then put them together and gradually fade the cue for the second behavior (the spin). 

Another fun project is to develop a short skit that involves several tricks.  Your dog could “liberate” something by jumping or climbing into a designated area, retrieving an object, crawling away from the area so she isn’t seen by the bad guys, then hiding (covering her eyes) when she hears certain noises, crawling some more, then you (being the bad guy) can find her and shoot her and she can have a really cool death scene.

There are lots of fun dog tricks to teach. If your dog uses her paws a lot, you could teach a high five which is very easy — just a modified shake.  Small dogs have a tendency to stand on their back feet a lot, so you might teach her to “dance” or stand and wave both paws, or even hop. Small dogs can be taught to jump into your arms or lap. You can even teach a dog to walk on her “hands!”

Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.