Teaching your dog new tricks

TEACHING your dog tricks is every dog owner’s dream, but you must start with basic obedience. Your dog should know the basic commands (sit, down, heel, stand, and come) before you attempt any type of trick training. Once you have these mastered, you can build on them each of these three simple tricks.


This trick is best taught by first having your dog sit in a corner of the room with you standing in front of him. This allows the corner to support your dog and keep him from falling over.

Using food, hold it above your dog and entice him to reach up and take it. Progress slowly, each time encouraging the dog to rise higher.

Make sure your dog keeps his haunches on the ground. Use the treat to encourage the dog to shift his weight back over his haunches—it will help him keep his balance.

Once your dog is balancing well in the corner, slowly move your dog outward and attempt the trick. Expect some regression when the dog loses the support of the walls and move slowly until the dog perfects it.

Shaking hands

Start with your dog in a sit position.

Giving the verbal command “shake,” outstretch your right hand until it is a few inches in front of your dog’s right leg. Your outstretched hand is the nonverbal cue for this trick.

Using your left hand, gently push or prod her right leg forward until it rests in your right hand. Praise.

After practicing several sessions, slowly try to reduce the amount of prompting until only the verbal or nonverbal command is needed

Shaking the head

Shaking the Head “No”

Start with your dog in a sitting position.

You will need to find something that will cause the dog to shake his head naturally. Blowing lightly on the ear, tickling the ear with a feather, or lightly attaching a paper clip to one ear are some things that can work. You do not want to cause the dog pain.

Once you have discovered a method that will cause your dog to shake his head, decide on a nonverbal and verbal cue you want to use. “Head” along with shrugging the shoulders is a good idea. You do not want to use the word “no” as you are likely to use this word when scolding the dog and this will lead to confusion.

Using both cues, stimulate the dog to shake his head. Reward, even if it is only a small movement.

Take a momentary break and then try again. Don’t repeat the trick more than five times in one session.

Eventually, try signalling the dog with only the verbal or nonverbal cues as well as signalling the dog from a standing and a lying position.

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