Give the paw, stand up on the hind legs and extend the forelegs or pick up a snack in the air? By learning the 10 tricks in this article, all of this will be possible and you and your dog will be the stars. Best of all, these skills not only excite the audience, but challenge the animal physically and mentally. On the other hand, the practice of these tricks strengthens the animal-human relationship.
When, from an order, a dog turns in a circle or waves its paw, expressions of charm and enthusiastic applause are guaranteed. However, more important than the audience’s admiration is how your dog feels about all of this. Fortunately, most dogs are, by nature, quite curious – they want to be busy and love to be in good shape. And everything will be even more worthwhile if a reward is included, such as a treat or a caress of recognition from the owner.
Fun: the most important
Knowing that the practice of tricks is very beneficial for the relationship between dog and owner, it is common for some owners to set overly ambitious goals. Before starting training, it is important to keep in mind that not all tricks are appropriate for all dogs . Although most dogs have a willingness to learn – especially if “lessons” are accompanied by rewards – their size, build and weight can prevent them from practicing certain tricks. Furthermore, dogs, like us, have individual preferences; for example, if your furry baby does not like to lie on his back, you should not encourage him to roll around and, even if he does not like to jump, forget about “catching the treat in the air”.
The fundamental prerequisite for practicing tricks with your dog is the fun of both. The truth is that the feeling of accomplishment will reach you much more quickly if pleasure is your focus, instead of practicing an exercise obstinately, while the pooch would rather be curled up in your blanket.
The journey is the goal
Practicing the tricks should be a positive experience for your dog. Pressure and severity are not part of the training equation. Be patient with the animal and respect your learning pace. This advice does not mean that you should give up if the animal does not participate in the trick or if the latter does not work immediately. Sometimes, the dog needs some time to understand what the owner wants from him. It is essential that you observe the animal carefully and learn to interpret its behavior. If, for example, you are unmotivated, the best thing to do is to end the training and continue at another time – over time you will easily see if the dog wants to continue or if his mind is already engaged in another activity. It is then easy to conclude that the practice of tricks contributes to a better understanding of your pet. At the same time, the animal gains confidence in the owner, as he responds to his needs. Concluding: the real success of a trick is not in the perfect performance of an acrobatics, but in the period of training together. A consistent and progressive training and the small successes achieved, promote self-confidence and strengthen the bonds between you and him.
How to motivate your dog for tricks
Mutual trust, reliability and unequivocal orders are the fundamental pillars for a successful education – and the same goes for practicing little tricks. However, captivating the animal to the rules and tricks requires a little more effort. Although the desire to please is part of the nature of some dog breeds, these animals are, at heart, selfish, knowing that the desired behaviors will bring them many benefits, while the unwanted ones will be ignored or even penalized. In the case of other races, known to be obstinate, it is possible to observe how they interpret the execution of an order, that is, whether it will bring them any benefit or not.
Successes associated with rewards
The technique of longing for praise can be applied to the training of tricks. The truth is that dogs choose the path that promises them the best results, that is, if they predict the existence of a reward after a successful exercise, they will naturally be motivated to participate. Positive reinforcements in the form of treats, treats or a highly anticipated toy will bring owner and dog closer to the goal faster and with greater confidence than adopting a penalty posture in the face of a poorly completed exercise. Thus, the rewards must be offered immediately after the successes , so that the animal understands what type of behavior is desirable and will give him access to the expected compliments. Dogs live in the present moment, associating the owner’s reaction with the current situation. It is also important to end each training session with a sense of accomplishment- when noticing that a certain exercise still overloads the animal, it is best to take a few steps back and give him an order that he can safely perform and reward him for it. Only after this should the training be finished. And the animal will remain in a good mood and willing to continue.
Before starting training …
For the practice of the tricks presented in this article to be successful, it is essential that the animal masters the basic commands, such as “Sit” or “Here”. Only start the exercises when your bigeye responds safely to these types of orders. On the other hand, make sure you choose the ideal period to start the joint training – if the dog is tired or hungry he will not show much interest in the tricks. Even after meals it is important for the animal to enjoy an hour of rest for digestion. Rested and fed, he will follow the training with enthusiasm.
The 10 most popular tricks
Give the duck
The classic of the classics, and also the basis for many other tricks, is to give the paw. Although this trick is comparatively easy to learn, it will still take some patience (and some treats) until the animal responds to your order with confidence, offering both paws.
- Let’s start : launch the command “Sit!” and kneel beside the dog. With one hand, lift one of the animal’s paws and unequivocally state the order “Give the paw”. Repeat this process until the dog raises its paw by itself as soon as the command is uttered. Reward him immediately with a treat. Alternatively, you can hide the treat from the start in your hand and keep it close to the animal’s head – the animal will try to get close to it, most likely using its paw. Offer him the reward and say clearly “Give the paw”. Over time, your bigeye will have internalized the exercise in such a way that it will raise its paw as soon as the owner has an open hand in front of him.
“Give me five more” and wave
Giving another five or more common designations, high five or give me five , is a very casual behavior for us humans, not being restricted to the world of sport, being an expression of shared successes. It is not surprising then that this trick has become quite popular also among dogs. If your bigeye is already comfortable with the previous trick, giving the paw will certainly teach you this move quickly.
- Let’s start there : raise your hand vertically (and not horizontally, as in the previous exercise) and enunciate the already known command “Give the paw”. As soon as the animal raises its paw, offer him a reward. It is normal if at first your pooch gets a little confused, as he is rewarding you without having put his paw in your hand. As you progress in practice, you will get used to the new exercise, and as soon as you have established a routine you must introduce the new order – “Give me five more” or ” High five “.
With the most fluid execution of the exercise, you can try to do it from a distance, that is, move further and further away from the animal until, at a certain point, it cannot touch your hand when lifting its paw. Reward him as soon as he raises his paw and he will understand that this gesture is sufficient. When they are further apart, raise your hand vertically as a greeting and he will “wave” you with the little duck.
“Sit and ask”
“Sitting and asking” is a very popular exercise and consists in the fact that the dog sits on its hind legs and raises its front legs. To do this, the animal transfers the weight back and until it finds balance in this position it may, depending on its abilities, take some time. It is important that during the training of this trick the dog feels at the back of the body – if standing up, you are not doing the exercise properly.
- Let’s start : as with the two previous tricks, the first part of the exercise is to make the animal feel. Guide the dog against a wall and declare the order “Sit!”. Ideally, he will sit with his back against the wall – thus, he will be able to find balance, preventing him from standing up, a gesture that will be counterproductive, since he will have to sit down again. Then, show him a treat and guide him, with his hand, over the animal’s head. Attention: you must not make it too high, or he will stand up. As soon as the dog straightens up and slightly raises its paw to reach the treat, issue the command “Sit down and ask!” and reward him with the snack. If the dog stands up, repeat the command “Sit!” and keep the treat until it only raises the front legs.
This exercise derives from the dog dancing modality . The owner places himself in front of the dog and alternately raises his right and left legs. In a synchronized manner, the animal also raises its right and left paws. It then appears that the animal and owner are marching together in the same place.
- Let’s get started: The performance of this trick requires a precondition – the domain of the order “to give the paw”. Order the animal to sit and stand in front of you. Now, when asking the dog to paw, raise your right leg instead of the hand. Dogs that have already internalized this order will instinctively raise their paw, in addition to orienting themselves from their leg. On the other hand, if the dog is disoriented and does not follow the order, help him by placing his hand extended on his leg. Praise him as soon as he raises his paw at the same time that you lift your leg and offer him a small treat. Then repeat the exercise, but raising your left leg this time – the animal must also lift the other leg. Practice the exercise several times and become more demanding in offering the treat, that is, reward it only when you repeat it twice,
This trick has two stages: first, the animal touches an object with its paw and then drops it. By mastering these movements, it is possible to teach him, for example, to close doors with his paw.
- Let’s get started : place an object of interest (a plastic bottle or a plushie, for example) in a room in the house and draw your dog’s attention to it. Wait to see what happens. If the animal approaches the object and touches it with its paw, praise it extensively and reward it with a treat. Repeat the process, pointing at the object and congratulating the pooch as soon as you touch it with your paw. The next day, try to expand the exercise and add the order “drop” – from now on, as soon as the dog touches the object, say “Drop!”. After a few days, this command will be so consolidated that the big dog will react if the owner points to other things in the apartment and spells out the order.
To teach you how to close doors, point to the door of the room where you are and say “Knock it down!”. When your bigeye touches the door with his paw, reward him. To make sure that you actually close the door, issue the command “Knock it down! Close the door!” and reward it only when you touch the door hard enough to close it. Gradually increase the distance that separates you from the door until it is enough to point at it from the sofa or table and say “Knock it down! Close the door!”.
With this trick the objective is for the dog to roll once on his back, returning to the starting position. Bearing in mind that some dogs do not particularly like to lie on their backs, this exercise requires particular dexterity and a little patience. And, of course, excellent motivators will be your dog’s favorite snacks that you rarely have access to.
- Let’s start : responding to your command, the animal is sitting in front of you, with the back of the body and both elbows touching the ground. Hold the special treat you selected for this exercise in front of your nose, so that it touches your snout, but without being able to eat it. Then, slowly guide your hand so that the animal tilts its head back and directs its back to the floor. The animal will surely try to reach the treat with its snout, and, in the best case, turn around immediately. If the bigeye hesitates to lie on his back, encourage him, supporting him to reach the desired position.
It is also fun to watch the folded dogs crawling on the floor, touching their belly, and slowly returning to their starting position. However, it will take a few training sessions until your bigeye masters this trick – the truth is that crawling is a movement that is not part of the dogs’ natural locomotion.
- Let’s get started : the respective command is announced, the animal sits down and the owner kneels beside him. Gently place one hand behind your back and with the other hold a treat in front of your snout; slowly move your hand away and bring it to the floor. If the animal wants to get up with the intention of following the treat in your hand, carefully push it towards the floor. State the order “Crawl!” or similar. As soon as the big dog crawls, even slightly, forward, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat the exercise until the animal responds to your order and crawls. When, after a few days, the dog controls these movements, he no longer needs to keep his hand behind his back and still try to sit some distance from him. Hold the snack close to the ground and give the order – as soon as the animal crawls, reward it; if you try to get up, say “Sit down!” once again. Congratulate him on the reward as soon as he performs the full exercise.
The purpose of this trick is for your bigeye to rotate on its own axis – to the left or to the right. This movement is unfamiliar to some dogs, but when they realize that there is an associated reward, it is with motivation that they dedicate themselves to exercise.
- Let’s start here : Stand in front of your dog and hold a treat close to your muzzle (similar to what is done in the “Rolling” exercise). Now move your hand in a circular motion over your head and up to your back, forcing the dog to also move in a circle to accompany the hand. Then enunciate an appropriate order, such as “Turn around” or “Wheel”. As soon as the animal spins on its own axis, reward it. Repeat the exercise to the point that the dog dominates you at a distance – to do this, gradually move away from your pet until it turns on itself only from the observation of the circular movement of the owner’s hand and its order.
Slalom between the legs
Similar to some of the previous tricks, like tap dancing or spinning, the slalom by the middle of the legs is a very popular exercise in the sport.dog dancing . And we believe that even animals less enthusiastic about dance moves will enjoy performing this trick. However, it is essential that the dog reaches it, at most, up to the knee – otherwise it will not be safe while moving and the animal will pass through the middle of its legs.
- Let’s start : Stand next to your dog and in an advanced position in relation to it. If the animal is on your right, it is your left leg that must be ahead. In this position, hold a snack with your left hand in the middle of your legs, bringing it as close to the floor as possible, and move your hand to the left. With the delicacy in mind, the dog will surely follow the direction of your hand and orient itself, going through the middle of its legs, to the left side. Then, take a step forward with your right leg and do the same sequence of movements to the other side. Give, for example, the order “Pass!”, “ Slalom”Or“ Zig zag ”. Initially, you should reward the animal immediately, so that it does not lose motivation. As you perform the exercise, gradually try taking more steps and maintaining the slalom until you reward it. As soon as the big dog learns the rule, he will take the training to the end without needing any rewards.
Catching and balancing a treat
This trick promises a lot of action and dazzled looks from the spectators. However, it is not especially easy to perform, so it requires some skill on the part of your dog, in addition to enough patience and some know-how on the part of the owner until the exercise is completed perfectly.
- Let’s get started : The first step is to train your dog’s catching ability. To do this, throw a treat in the direction of its muzzle and give an order like “Catch!” or “Take it!” and, by reflex, he will try to catch it. On the other hand, if the snack falls to the ground, be quick and catch it before the dog does. As the training progresses, move away and throw the treat a little more to the right or to the left, motivating him to jump to catch it.
To make this demonstration even more fantastic, you can add a second step – training the balance of snacks. Carefully hold your dog’s snout with one hand and place a treat on his nose with the other hand. Give an appropriate order, such as “Safe!” or “Right!” and calmly move your hand away without the snack falling from your nose. If your pet can keep its head still for a moment and balance the craved treat in its nose, reward it immediately. Once the dog has mastered both steps, it is time to combine the two. To do this, place the treat on the animal’s nose and enunciate the order for balance; then say “Catch!”, at which point he will try to reach the snack on the nose with a jump. This trick, of course, requires a lot of practice and patience before it works. Our advice: be patient and encourage the dog to try again and again; if it is not working out, go back and insist on training the two steps in isolation.
And the tricks don’t stop here …
There is one element in common between all of these 10 tricks – they are all based on a similar principle: there is a clear order, an explicit gesture and a reward at the end. The latter is often a treat, but a toy that catches the pooch’s attention can also work. By understanding the scheme inherent in learning the tricks and after learning to motivate your dog you will be able to practice many more tricks together, such as jumping between your arms or responding to orders like “Bang!” and fall, pretending to be dead. Finally, let us not forget particularly useful tricks, such as “Bring your slippers” or “Go get the leash!”, Which you can teach, with some training, to your four-legged companion.
Have fun training together!