Two Border Collie Dogs

5 Cool and Easy Tricks to Teach Your Dog

Teaching your pup to understand and obey basic obedience rules and commands is a beneficial step towards a happier partnership with your dog. Not only does it allow for easy management of your dog, it also allows you to build a stronger bond and it may even save your dog's life one day.

So why spend time doing silly tricks? Good question. And here's the answer ...

Dogs, like humans, need mental stimulation.

Tricks are actually problem-solving activities that involve communication, interpreting boundaries, and learning new physical skills. Like eye/paw coordination.

Did you ever have someone special in your life you looked up to? You felt protected and encouraged. Over time you developed a bond based on trust.


Training your dog creates the same dynamic. It’s something that helps you both, connecting you emotionally and developing a bond built on trust and respect.

Tricks help you communicate with your dog. You know that however much you adore someone in a new friendship, it takes time to learn how each other’s minds work, so your communication gets better over time as you do more things together.


Like collaborating musicians, you both gain more confidence as you continue to reinforce each other’s successes.

Knowing an increasing number of tricks gives your dog a sense of purpose. Something to accomplish.

You’ll also notice that your dog’s ability to focus will improve as he expands his “playlist.” And with time, he’ll be able to do more complex tricks that use a combination of skills he’s gained from learning simpler ones.

Knowing tricks also improves socialization – people love seeing dogs showing off their impressive capabilities, so the more your dog can perform, the more people will be delighted and give him the attention dogs absolutely adore.

Finally, you’ve seen zoomies, haven’t you? Bursts of galloping energy, boundlessly explosive! If you don’t provide a way to vent this energy then your pup will find less constructive ways to release it. So helping your dog channel some of this boundless energy can only be a good thing.

Basic Tips

  • Hold your training sessions in a distraction-free place with lots of space, indoors or outdoors.
  • Work 1:1 with your pup, maybe including one other calm, familiar person.
  • Break the activity into small steps. Work on each step one at a time. Repeat each exercise at least five times or as often as needed. Remember that learning is easiest when you base a trick on an action they already do naturally.
  • Don’t advance until the current step is mastered. Go at your dog's pace.
  • If your pup gets frustrated, go back to basics: break the trick down into even simpler steps, and provide rewards for small successes and attempts in the right direction. Decreasing anxiety is a good thing.
  • Reward your dog with verbal praise at each success, but save the tastiest treats for the times he performs the entire trick. Eventually you can phase out the food rewards. Although not written down in the directions below, always imagine you hear the words “REWARD AND REPEAT” after each step!
  • Relax, be patient, and above all, have fun! Your pup loves experiencing new activities with you and will work hard for the joy of receiving your approval.
  • Always end your session on a positive note so you both look forward to more.

Roll Over

  1. 1
    It’s helpful if you’ve taught “ lie down!” first. If that's something you need help with, click here to download the PDF version of this article, in which you'll find a link to our easy guide for teaching your dog to lie down.
  2. 2
    When he’s in the lying down position, kneel beside him holding a treat near his nose. Then move your treat hand from his nose to his shoulder so he’ll lie flat on his side, head on the floor.
  3. 3
    The next step is moving your treat hand from his shoulder to his spine so he rolls onto his back.
  4. 4
    Move your treat hand to guide him to roll onto his other side. After he masters this, add the verbal cue “roll over” but don’t say it until he completes the entire action. This way he knows he has to finish the roll.
  5. 5
    Gradually reduce the treat lure and hand motions until the verbal cue is all he needs.

Jump Through A Hoop

  1. 1
    First let your dog get used to the hoop by laying it down flat so it won’t fall and scare him, and then allow him to approach it when he’s ready. If he approaches the hoop even for a moment then reward him with food and praise.
  2. 2
    The next step is to reward your dog when he steps inside, even with just one paw. Repeat until he’s stepping inside the hoop with all four paws.
  3. 3
    Now it’s time to start lifting one side of the hoop a few inches using your foot or a rock or anything stable. Encourage him to move inside.
  4. 4
    From here you’ll work up to a 45-degree angle with the bottom edge of the hoop on the ground.
  5. 5
    When your dog masters this, lure him with a treat to walk through the upright hoop still touching the ground. It’s ok to use a hand signal if you and your dog are used to that. Reward him only for attempting to go through the hoop but not around it.
  6. 6
    You can guess where we’re going with this – lift the upright hoop about an inch so your dog has to lift his foot to step into it. Introduce a new word such as “jump” at this point so he associates the word with the action of stepping over the hoop.
  7. 7
    Gradually raise the height of the upright hoop off the ground but not more than a foot or so to protect your dog's joints. Adapt this trick to his body shape and fitness level.

Spin

  1. 1
    Call your pup over to you. Touch a treat on his nose, say the word “spin,” and slowly move the treat in a wide circle ending at his tail. This is half the trick.
  2. 2
    To advance to the next step, don’t stop moving your hand at his tail, but keep the treat circling until he follows you all the way around.
  3. 3
    When he can do this smoothly, slip the treat in your other hand while using your now-empty hand to continue the training. Start with your hand against his nose and guide him around in a wide circle. When he completes the full spin following your empty hand, reward him with the treat you’ve been hiding in your other hand.
  4. 4
    By now you can begin to gradually raise your treatless gesturing hand higher and higher above his nose as you give the verbal command to “spin.”
  5. 5
    Get really fancy and teach him to “spin right” or “spin left” as you move your hand clockwise or counterclockwise. These spin tricks can become elements of your doggy dance routine!

Walk Backwards

  1. 1
    Find a place that’s only wide enough for your dog to stand facing one direction without being able to turn around. You could also set up two lines of chairs like a cattle chute.
  2. 2
    Get a few treats and call your dog over to you so he’s facing you in the narrow passageway. Say “back up” and slowly walk toward him. As soon as he takes a step backward, stop walking. Praise him and reward.
  3. 3
    When he’s able to do this easily, gradually stop walking toward him so he can do the trick with only the verbal cue.
  4. 4
    Now it gets interesting. Change locations or rearrange your chairs so the passageway is wider. If he gets confused in the new space, take a few steps toward him to guide him back, or narrow your passage again. As you continue to work with your dog he’ll eventually understand that he can “back up” anywhere.

High Five

  1. 1
    How many years have humans taught their dogs to “shake?” Because their paws are sensitive, many dogs don’t like someone grabbing at their feet. Doing a high five is the new version nowadays. Have your pup sit so it’s more comfortable for him to offer you his paw.
  2. 2
    Ok, this is kind of sneaky but it ends well. Grip the treat tightly in your hand as you hold it at nose level. Now just wait. Keep waiting. When he eventually paws your hand, reward him out of your other hand.
  3. 3
    When he’s got the idea, begin saying “high five” before he lifts his paw.
  4. 4
    Next comes more shaping of the behavior by modifying it further. Without any treat, hold your open hand upright in front of his nose level and say “high five.” If he doesn’t connect the words with the new hand position, you can make an empty fist or cup your hand.
  5. 5
    As with the other training, gradually reduce the frequency of treat rewards and give him your whole-hearted love instead.

Your puppy is going to love all this, wait and see! Although there are many styles of dog training, the most current practices hold to the philosophy of positive reinforcement instead of emphasizing your Alpha power.

Your pup will automatically look up to you as the Top Dog when you show him that you’re the source of fun and treats. After all, you two are partners!

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