Now that we all have a bit more time on our hands and find ourselves at home, why not try to teach your dog some new tricks? Not only are they fun, but trick training can be of great benefit to your four-legged friend:
- Mental stimulation of learning something new
- Bonding for you and your furry friend
- Any type of training is good for you as a trainer, but also for your dog to better respond to other training you may give
After having your dog sit, give them a treat. Holding another treat close by in a closed fist, but not quite in reach, say ‘high five’ and touch one of their paws.
Your dog will bring their paw up to try and get the treat. Reward them with the treat and a lot of praise. Repeat this, remembering to say ‘high-five’ each time until your dog associates the word with touching your hand with their paw.
Building on from their high-five, make sure that they see you hide a treat in your closed fist. After they paw at it, say ‘shake’, gently catch their foot and ‘shake’. Make sure this is done very carefully and only for a few seconds. Reward them with the treat.
Repeat this whilst saying ‘shake’ as they lift their paw up to your fist with treats, until they understand.
As a start for this, your furry friend will need to know ‘down’ as this is where they start. As they are ‘down’, hold a treat near their nose, and then bring it round to their shoulder. They should follow the treat with their head.
Gently help them roll on to their back and onto their front, whilst always repeating ‘roll over’ for the association to build. Each time, reward them with a treat and plenty of praise. Keep repeating until they respond to your verbal praise only.
What might seem an instinctive command really isn’t for many dogs. You will need to begin with their favourite toy – a ball works best. When they have this in their mouth, hold your palm out underneath until they drop it into your hand. As soon as they drop it, give it back right away. Repeat this until they drop the ball into your palm each time.
Now is time to throw the ball, but don’t throw it too far to begin with. Being closer to your four-legged friend will make it easier for them to learn this trick. After throwing, hold your palm out and say ‘fetch’. You can encourage them with a treat. When they come back and put the ball in your hand, be sure to give plenty of praise.
Progressively throw the ball further away whilst repeating the command of ‘fetch’ until it is followed each time. You can then try this with different toys once they get the hang of it!
Weaving between your legs
We’ve all seen it at Crufts – let’s see it in our living rooms now!
Start by standing up and stretching one leg out in front, with your dog right behind you. Using a treat and holding it between your legs, call for them and use the treat to give once their head has come through to the end.
As their confidence builds, take a bigger step forward and encourage them to pass through again with the command ‘weave’ each time using praise and treats each time they do so. From here, you can work towards the figure eight and a ‘walking weave’ by continuing to take steps forward.
- Praise works best. Responding excitedly each time they complete the treat with lots of praise and a treat will always work better than responding negatively if they haven’t got the hang of the trick yet.
- Be patient. Training takes lots of repeating over a course of a few days. Dogs are like us and take time to get the hang of a new skill!
- Have fun with your pup and family while doing it!