Useful Tricks to Teach Your Dog

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!

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  1. Hi Robert
    Can you give me some advice on how to eliminate those dead patches on lawns. I thought only female dogs did it but my golden retriever Harry seems to manage to leave them everywhere. Please help ! I try to catch him to put water on the spot but to no avail
    Thank you in anticipation !!!!

    1. Hi Marcia, this is not really my expertise, however… one thing that can help a little, is if you keep the fluid up to your dog. I do this by either adding water to their food or making a bone broth that i give, diluted further with more water, at the opposite time of day to their normal meal. How do you know if your dogs urine is too concentrated? That’s easy, i just watch when they pee, and if its dark yellow or green i like to add the broth to their day. When the urine is almost clear with a very slight tinge of yellow or green then you can presume your dog is drinking enough water. Hope that helps.

  2. I’d like to know how you teach these tricks.
    You sent me an email asking if my dog liked her food ( fish & lamb). I didn’t reply straight away as she was finishing her previous food . My dog’s a Staffy and no gourmet. Stopping her eating rubbish she finds is the problem . She is happily eating it though. My reason for buying it is that I want to keep her as heathy as possible and I always feel concerned with the ingredients in processed food and anything I don’t make myself.
    I really enjoy your informative emails. Cheers

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