Teaching tricks can really strengthen your bond with your dog and it brings the fun back to training. While teaching a formal heel is tedious, teaching your dog to shake, high-five, roll-over or play dead is fun! Some tricks are not just cute, but have real-life applications. The following are a few trick ideas to teach your dog that are useful for you. Some can even help your dog overcome behavior problems.
Put Your Dog To Work! (Helpful Tricks)
A lot of these “tricks” are things service dogs are taught to help their owners around the house. Even if your best friend is not a service dog, she can still help you out around the house with these fun tricks.
Put Away Your Toys. Just like your kids, your dog can learn to put away his toys. Have a basket that holds them all and when it’s time to sweep or vacuum, or guests are coming, your dog can help clean up!
Throw it Away. Using one of those garbage cans with the pedal foot to open the lid, you can teach your dog to pick up things on the floor and throw it away. Word of caution – you have just taught your dog to open a garbage can.
Do Laundry. Do you have a sock thief at home? Put him to work! This is a variation of put away your toys. You teach your dog to put your socks in your laundry basket! (Or any article of clothing!) No more picking up after your kids – let the dog do it.
Turn On the Light. This is something many service dogs are taught. You can teach your dog to either turn on a touch or step-on light, or if they are tall enough, to flip a light switch with their nose or paw.
Tricks That Help! (Behavior Tricks)
These are the tricks that will make your life easier by turning something your dog normally doesn’t like into a highly rewarded and fun trick.
Paw or Shake. This is awesome for dogs that do not want their feet touched for trimming or nail clipping. A sheltie I know would start to whine and then scream as soon as you reached for his paws for a nail clip or for trimming the hair around his paws. His owner taught him to shake and then build up the length of time she held his paw. She paired this with desensitizing for the clippers or trimmers and he no longer cries, but stands quietly.
Get Dressed. Does your dog not like the collar going on over his head, or maybe is so excited you can’t get him to sit still long enough to buckle his harness? You can turn it into a highly rewarded trick by teaching them to “get dressed,” put their head through the collar or harness as you hold it still, and then stand while you buckle.
Relax. This is where you teach your dog to stay lying down on their back (think mid-roll over). It’s great for grooming their belly, makes nail clipping easy (all the paws are in the air!) and can be useful at the vet. You can also teach them to lie flat on their side and stay for the same reasons. Just give each one a different cue. So maybe you have “side” for lying on their side and “relax” for lying on their back, as an example.
Stand-stay. Stand is a useful “trick” for grooming, vet examines, etc. It’s easy to teach too.
These tricks are just a starting point. Dog can learn a surprising number of things, so use your imagination. If you want some inspiration, just search for Jesse the Jack Russell on YouTube – he makes tea, folds laundry, and even helps with the shopping!