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Teaching your Puppy Tricks

Welcome to Part 5 of our series: Getting a Dog

There are many dog tricks that your puppy can learn.  Training your puppy to perform tricks is not much different than housebreaking a puppy or training.  It is a form of obedience and puppies can enjoy the task because it is time and attention with their owners as well as a mentally stimulating challenge.  The following are some simple dog tricks:

“Shake a Paw” is a request that your puppy put a paw in your hand while you shake it.  Sometimes this is followed by “other paw” which is a request to switch paws.  Train your puppy by manually lifting one paw and then praising and rewarding him with a treat. 

“Sit Pretty” or “Beg” or “Say Please” is a request to have your puppy, while in the sitting position, lift his or her front paws off the ground and balance like a squirrel.  To learn this dog trick, have your puppy sit and show him or her that you have a treat.  Keep the treat a little higher than your puppy’s head and he or she will sit up higher to get it.  Praise your puppy as soon as his or her paws lift off the ground and then continue from higher distances until he or she understands the command.

“Roll Over” is a request to have your puppy lie down and then roll onto his or her back. When your puppy is on the floor, show him that you have a treat and say, “roll over”.  Then put the treat behind his head so that he has to roll over in order to get it. When he gets to the other side give him praise and a reward. “Kiss” is when your puppy licks your hand or target area.  Repeatedly say the work “kiss” when he is licking your face.  When you say “kiss” and he licks your hand then give him lots of praise and a reward.

“Crawl” is a request for your dog to lie down and then move along the floor without getting up. When he is on the floor, show him that you have a treat.  Say “crawl” and then move the treat just out of his reach.  Only reward him if he moves ahead without getting up.

“Cross your Paws” is a request to have your puppy lay down and cross his or her front paws.

“Speak” or “What Do You Say” or “Say Hello” are all used when you wish for your puppy to give a single bark.  Be sure that you have taught the command, “quiet” when your puppy is learning this trick.

“Yawn” is when you can prompt your puppy to yawn on command.  Train your pup to do this by actually waiting for a yawn and then rewarding and praising him for it.  After repeated reinforcement your puppy with begin to see the connection and will soon start to yawn when you ask him to.

“Take a Bow” is a request to have your dog, while his hind legs are standing, crouch to the floor with his front paws and head.  This is a natural stretch for dogs so it won’t be hard to have them perform this action.  Every time that you see your puppy stretch in this way then say “Take a Bow”.  When you say this command and your puppy happens to stretch at the same time then give lots of praise and a reward in an effort for your puppy to make the connection.

“Play Dead”, or “Take a Nap” or simply “Bang” (using your hand as a fake gun) is a request to have your puppy drop down to the floor and lay on his side like he is dead.  Similar to learning the simple command, “lay down”, this takes repetition and consistent praise when the task is achieved.

“Circle” or “Turn Around” is a trick that asks your puppy to walk a circle around you.  By using a treat as bait, have your puppy walk behind you and then come back around, the whole time following the treat.  When he is just learning you may want to offer the reward as soon as he goes behind you and then again when he comes back in front.

Getting a Dog