Fun tricks to teach your puppy

After your puppy has learned the basics of dog training, you can now turn your practice sessions into fun. For instance, put your puppy in a Sit-Stay position, back off a foot or two, show him a toy and throw it to him. Try to avoid going for a catch that requires a super hero leap into the air. The idea is to have him actually catch it!

Put your puppy in a Sit-Stay position and let him watch you hide the toy under the edge of a couch. Make sure that he stays in this position for a moment more, perhaps as you wonder out loud “Where is Teddy?” Then give him the cue, “Okay – find Teddy!” If he doesn’t understand what to do, help him search for it, but let him discover where it is.

Stepping back to the “as” routine, you can teach your dog any trick that he can execute by himself just by giving that action a command. Puppies like to roll over onto their backs and squirm, especially on a comfy thick rug! Rotate this back-scratching into a trick by catching Rex as he starts and say, “Rex, roll over. Good boy.”

As your dog develops and grows, he’ll understand your language more frequently and you’ll be able to use words that have great influence as tricks. For instance, rather than saying “roll over,” say, “Rex, can you do your rollover exercises?” to bring on a squirming, leg-flailing routine that is worthy of praise. For the beginning, keep it simple as possible.

When Rex has finally gotten to the stage of being able to hold a still Sit-Stay, you can add a new trick. Balance a dog biscuit on top of his nose as simply say, “On trust.” If your dog is wiggling his head you might have to hold his head still the first few tries. When Rex has held it for a second, give him the release signal (“Okay” or “Take it”) as you softly, yet fast, lift his chin up, which will throw the biscuit into the air so he can actually catch the biscuit.

Children and pups love to play hide & seek, but any person can get in on the game. Puppies seek by scent, so at the beginning kneel down to be closer your dog’s level. Place Rex in a Sit-Stay and let him see you hide, kneel down and then call out “Okay!” Make certain he finds you even if it means you must call out to Rex a few times. Make a huge deal of it when he does find you – and then play the game over again. Just don’t make it more difficult until he is able to find you right away at the first level.

Reward your puppy often with a little treat and make finding you the most exhilarating part of the game. This means you will advance slowly from hiding where he can see you, to hiding in another section of the home and sooner or later the back of a wardrobe closet where your scent will be hidden. Remember, your dog won’t be interested in playing if it isn’t fun, so make certain he does find you each time you play.

Shaking hands with your dog is fun and easy to teach. Simply touch the toes and many dogs will raise that paw. Lift it with ease and say, “Shake hands” or “Give me a paw” as he gives it to you. When that has been achieved, you can develop this into a paw raised higher, and without shaking it, say, “Wave goodbye!” This is great for later on; a friendly dog handshake is fine for the moment. The reverse of “Off for jumping up is two paws raised in a jump-up welcome, only on a command of “High-5!”