10 Tricks and Skills You Can Teach Your Dog

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We all have heard of the wonders search and rescue dogs can do, the help that assistance dogs can provide, the life saving abilities of dogs that alert to medical conditions. Special dogs are known to be able to perform complex tasks such as opening the refrigerator and retrieving something, answering the phone, and even some amounts of shopping. As you gaze now at your furry friend, you cannot help but wonder if perhaps there is an amazing untapped potential in your hound. Certainly you can train your dog to find things, and respond to simple words with just ten minutes of training a day.

Give a Kiss

Most dog owners are very familiar with a dog’s interest in licking their face, but the liquid love in that is generally not desired and avoided. It is possible to get a kiss without the saliva with these techniques:
Pick a command word. The word “kiss” is just fine.
While holding a treat reward near your face, give the command word. Immediately turn your cheek to your dog. Allow him to touch his nose to your cheek.
As soon as you feel the nose, pull your face away to avoid the lick that is surely coming, and offer the treat and a verbal reward.
Doing this repeatedly and with rapid removing of your face before the lick, your dog will begin to understand that the desired behavior is a gentle press of his nose to your cheek in a “kiss”.
To generalize the learning, train him to give others kisses on command. However the difference is that you are giving him the command by saying the command word while pointing to the desired person. At first he may be confused, so having that person have the treat ready as a reward will help him make the connection with what you want him to do.

Pretty Sit

You probably have already taught your dog to sit as basic obedience, but here is an adaptation of that for fun! When you ask your dog to do this, you get some really cute poses! You will want to consider your dog’s overall health before you start training this, as it really engages and builds core muscles as well as improving balance, but can be stressful for dogs with other health conditions.

Give Me a Hug

If you have mastered the Pretty Sit, this trick is a logical next step. In this you will train your dog to “hug” you with their paws around you while you hug them. You can teach it without the Pretty Sit certainly, but be certain to follow your dog’s cues and go at his pace. Talk about a heartwarming hug!!!

Open and Shut

This is a great trick, to teach your dog to open and close doors, and can be very useful around the house. This trick works best on lever handled doors or with open doors with typical doorknobs. You may want to attach a rope or other tug item to a door handle rather than have your dog jump or paw at your door handle as the door itself could be damaged. This way you can make adaptations if you have even a small dog. Plus, then your dog won’t be able to open a door you don’t want him to as you simply don’t attach the tug to that particular door.

Attach a tug to the handle of the desired door. Get your dog to pull on it.
When you dog pulls on the tug, reward.
Give the command again and encourage him to pull more.
Shape the behavior until he is able to open the door all the way on command.
To teach to close the door, with treat in hand, prompt him to jump on the door to push it shut. Shape the behavior again.

Roll Over Fido

As with most training, the success in training this one hinges on repetition. It isn’t as complicated as it might seem. You will want to be sure to follow each step, all three carefully, as demonstrated in this video. Pretty soon not only will you be training your dog more tricks, but you may end up being asked to train your friends’ dogs!

Play Dead

This is a more complicated task as the dog has to learn to stay still, something that may or may not be in his repertoire, particularly if he is young. In order to help this make sense to your dog, you will want to start by teaching the end point of the trick and then move on. This will take some significant time and treats, but is aided if your dog is already rolling over on command.

Belly or Army Crawl

Now that your dog is laying on the ground on command, here is one to help him get in better shape!
Tell your dog to lie down.
Hold a treat tightly and allow him to smell it and even lick it, but don’t let him have it.
As you hold the treat at your dog’s nose level, slowly move it back along the floor.
Likely your dog will attempt to crawl after the treat. Praise and reward after just a crawl of a foot or so.
However, if your dog gets up, remove the treat and begin again.
You can extend how far you want him to crawl each time. Be sure to pair the verbal command as you start the task.
The final, most challenging task is to be able to give him the lie down command from a distance (10 to 15 feet is recommended) and then give the call command to have him crawl to you.

“Speak” on Command (really just bark, but close)

This trick is more challenging as it is taking something a dog does naturally and modifying it over and over to shape it into the desired behavior. However, showing this off to your other dog owners will certainly be worth the time you have invested in it. In this video you will see that although this is more difficult to teach, with time, it can be done. One key is that you want to reward when your dog barks on his own. And then reward each time as they do it and pair it with the command. As you can see, even the trainer is challenged with training this one, and this is what they do for a living! Keep at it and soon you will have your dog barking on command!

Fetch a drink from the fridge

Now that you have got your dog opening doors and following other complex commands, go for the real excitement. Teach him to get you a drink from the refrigerator! One think to consider is that if your dog can get the fridge open, he also can get at the food in it. If he will not be able to restrain himself, this may be a huge disadvantage.
Put a tug on the fridge handle.
Give the open door command. When it opens, reward.
Use a reward to encourage your dog to use his paws to shut the door on command.
Continue until he can do this on verbal commands only.
Get the dog’s toy and put it inside the fridge on a shelf where he can easily see it when he opens the door.
Have him open the door and make sure he sees his toy. Get him to take his toy and get it to you. Reward.
Change out the toy for a small plastic bottle or jar. (Soda cans would not be used for training as if the dog were to grip too hard they would really scare him when they started gushing. If he can hold things gently, then maybe you can start with these, but it isn’t recommended.)
Continue the sequences until your dog is bringing you the desire drink from the fridge.
Show off to all your friends!!!

“Take It” and “Drop It”

Teaching your dog to pick up something you want him to can be quite a useful trick.
Put a dog toy in front of your dog.
Reward if he picks it up.
If he doesn’t, you will want to start rewarding for him just paying attention to it, and then when he gets closer, and then closer, shaping the behavior basically.
The closer he gets to what you want is what you reward.
When he consistently will pick up the toy (or desired item), use the command “take it” and reward. There is a great example in this video.

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