5 Easy Tricks to Teach Your Dog

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) has declared January as National Train Your Dog Month. This fun holiday promises a howling good time for you and your family members (both two-legged and four)! According to the APDT, training can strengthen the bond between you and your pet, help you better understand your pet’s behavior, and increase safety.

If you’ve already done basic obedience with your pup, look for more advanced positive reinforcement training opportunities in your area. The types of classes you can take are seemingly endless, from doggie dancing to nose work to agility. However, if you’re just beginning, there are easy tricks you can teach your dog all on your own. Use a clicker (a training tool that makes a clicking sound) or say “yes!” to mark the behavior you want. Then make sure you reward your dog with scrumptious Full Moon Treats for his efforts. After all, you probably don’t work for free. Why should he?

Here are five fun tricks to get you started:

  1. Sit
    A. Wait for your dog to sit down.
    B. As soon as his rear-end is on the floor, click or say “yes” and reward.
    C. Repeat several times without saying anything.
    D. Start saying “sit” as he sits. Click or say “yes” and reward.
  2. Touch
    A. Hold out your hand or an object in front of your dog’s nose.
    B. Wait for him to investigate.
    C. Once he touches your hand or the object with his nose, click or say “yes” and reward.
    D. Repeat several times without saying anything.
    E. Start saying “touch” as he touches the object or your hand. Click or say “yes” and reward.
  3. Come
    A. Say your dog’s name along with the command you’ll give. For example, “Fido, here!” or “Fido, come!” Then click or say “yes” and reward when he looks at you.
    B. Take a step back and repeat the above. Click or say “yes” and reward when your dog steps toward you.
    C. Increase the distance and/or try it in different places like your back yard. You can also work on this skill by hiding in another room, calling your dog and letting him find you.
  4. Down
    A. Wait for your dog to lie down.
    B. As soon as he does, click or say “yes” and reward.
    C. Repeat several times without saying anything.
    D. Start saying “down” as he lies down. Click or say “yes” and reward.
  5. Spin
    A. Hold a treat in front of your dogs nose and guide him in a circle.
    B. When he makes the full circle, click or say “yes” and reward.
    C. Repeat several times.
    D. Keep doing the motion but slowly start moving your hand further away (eventually this will become your hand signal). Click or say “yes” and reward after each complete circle.
    E. Start saying “spin” as your dog performs the trick.

The key to training is to keep things fun and positive. Never yell at or hit your dog. If you or your dog starts getting tired or frustrated, end the session on a positive note with a trick he knows well. Then come back to it at a later time or date.

As with anything else, practice makes perfect. Just a few minutes each day will have your dog performing like a pro!

For more information, check out the National Train Your Dog Month website.