Simple & Practical Tricks to Teach Your Dog
By Jason Wright
November 17, 2021
Commands That Help in More Ways Than One
Once you have mastered the basic commands with your dog (sit, stay, come, place, heel etc), you may want to have some more fun with your training and introduce tricks. This is a great idea as it can strengthen the bond between you and your pet while stimulating them mentally and teaching them self control. Some of these will even incorporate physical and mental exertion which can help with potential behavioural issues by draining excessive energy. Beyond that, it is always nice to show off what a great dog you have to friends and family with a party trick.
At iTK9 we are always trying to think of ways to introduce training that solicits outcomes which are beneficial in more ways than one. Below are some of our favorite dog tricks/commands and how you may be able to achieve them.
Maybe not seen as a traditional trick but it does require some training and not all dogs are prone to fetch. When your dog learns to love fetch, it can be a great way to burn their energy and create a nice and calm dog afterwards.
How to Teach a Dog to Fetch
- Get their attention on the item you want them to fetch. This might involve you shaking the item in front of them, putting it in their face and pulling it away. Make sure to act excited and offer lots of praise. The idea here is to get your dog hyper focused on the item and very intrigued.
- Concentrate on getting them to chase the item while on a long lead. Once they’re focused on the item throw it. Hopefully they will follow it. If not, work on getting their focus on the item or consider changing the item you are training with. Once they start chasing the item, follow them to it. Once they grab it, bring their attention back on you with praise while introducing the word fetch. Stay low to the ground and call them back, clap your hands, slap the ground.
- Continue with chase. However, when your dog grabs the item bring their attention back on you and start backing up so that they follow you (don’t forget to use the word fetch). After a couple of steps stop and allow the dog to catch up. Provide lots of praise, retrieve the item from their mouth and repeat. If your dog does not pick up the item do not just pick it up for them. Go to the item and move it around near the ground to have them grab it again. Once they do, run back and have them follow you with the item. After a few steps, stop and retrieve the item from them.
- Again, continue with chase but start putting a little distance between you and them once they have grabbed the item. Continue to bring the attention back on you with noise and engagement. When they come back to you with the toy, provide verbal praise and pets. You may even use rewards such as treats to further encourage them. This will also help if your dog tends to not drop their fetch item. You’ll want to introduce the “out” command to them which can be done with their fetch item in their mouth, bring a treat to their nose and say “out”. They will most likely drop the item and take the treat. Repeat this and you should eventually be able to phase out the treat and then the word drop when they retrieve the fetch item. If do not drop the item you can simply apply progressive vertical leash pressure until the dogs mouth is forced open. Remember, as soon as the ball drops, you will praise and immediately throw the item saying “fetch”
- Repeat these steps without following your dog at all after the initial throw. Your dog should start to bring you back the item you threw and really begin to love fetch. You can slowly start to phase out the excitement and praise. Keeping the excitement after each fetch will make the new trick that much more enjoyable for your dog though.
Ring a Bell
A great trick that can be used to help you know when your dog needs or wants something. Such as the need to go outside to go to the bathroom. They may ring the bell with their nose or paws. In this example we are using a bell however there is no reason it couldn’t be a button that they press as well. If you are going to use this trick as a means of them notifying you that they need to go to the washroom, make sure that there isn’t a lot of play after the training session as you run the risk of them associating it with play time.
- First, introduce the bell to your dog by holding it in front of them. If they touch it, quickly reward them with a high value treat. Continue to do this multiple times a day. After they fully have a grasp on what you are trying to get them to achieve, only reward the louder rings where your dog really engages with the bell.
- Now, introduce this training by the door that your dog will use to go outside to go to the bathroom. Again, continue the training for multiple sessions.
- Lastly, you’ll want to time the bell training sessions to right before you know your dog needs to go to the washroom. Reward them for ringing the bell, then take them outside and provide another treat when they are done doing their business. From here, feel free to further reward with a bit of play time.
Shake (Not the one you’re thinking)
We are not talking about shake the paw but instead we are talking about getting your dog to do a full body shake. Effective for when you are giving your dog a bath and you want them to shake in the bath instead of when they get out and water ends up going everywhere! This one can be tough because you are waiting for something to happen rather than setting it up to happen.
- It’s simple enough but will take some time. Keep treats on hand and a keen eye on your dog. Whenever your dog shakes praise them and give them a treat. Follow that up with the word shake. If you can catch them right before they shake and use the shake command, even better, follow it up with a treat as well.
- Simply repeat that as often as you can. Over and over. It’s really about repetition. Eventually you should be able to say the command shake and have them do a full body shake.
Who doesn’t love a clean house! Unfortunately, your dog is probably not going to clean up after itself. Good news though, you can train them to do so.
- Identify an area where you would like to have your dog put its toys. A toy box works great for this purpose. Also, keep the box in the same spot.
- You’re going to be using your dog’s fetch skills so circle back to the first command in this list if you haven’t mastered it already.
- Bring your dog to the toy box and give them a toy with their head over the box. Tell them “out… clean up” this should have them drop the toy over the box and you will have started associating clean up as a new command. Once the toy is in the box, give them a treat and praise. Continue this training several times and over multiple sessions.
- Next, start throwing the toys a small distance with you standing next to the toy box. Call them back and see if they bring the toy to the box and drop it in. If not, entice them over the box with a treat and continue using the “Out… clean up” command.
- Continue to do this however do not incorporate the command “out”. As this behaviour progresses start utilizing the cleanup command before they even get to the box. Eventually getting to the point where you can command clean up and they will get their toys and put them in the box. You’ll want to continue praise and treats when this is done for some time. This will help solidify the command and behaviour.
The iTK9 Way
Although we don’t teach these commands (tricks) during our training programs, we do include training for basic commands such as sit, stay, and come which will help you further your dog’s training. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are looking for obedience training for your dog.