Statistics state that about 39% of American households contain a dog, and these dog owners are as varied as their fuzzy companions. Some people are content to have their canine friend simply be a lapdog, just lying about until it’s time for a walk or for dinner, but there’s an entire population of dog owners out there that would prefer a more active and engaging approach to dog ownership, and to teach their pooch some discipline and have them learn some cool tricks. These tricks can vary in difficulty, from the simple but necessary (sitting and staying), to more superfluous but very impressive (skateboarding!).
Whether you’re about to take the pooch plunge for the first time and buy a dog, or you’re already a dog owner, we’re here today to help you tame your wild beast. We’ll show you how what you’ll need to do before getting started, then show you some tricks you can start teaching your dog today, from the basic to the not so simple. If you’re currently dogless, hut plan on changing that in the near future, we have a few things that might help you begin the process. This course on successfully planning for a dog, and this article on how to train a puppy will both get you, your home, and your training skills ready for the new addition to your family.
Today, we’re not going to show you how to train your dog, per se, because each owner and each dog are different, and what works for some people, won’t work for others. We’re going to first start off with some of the more basic commands that every dog should know. Some are meant to calm them down, others are there for their own safety, but they’re all tricks that any dog should be able to perform after a short amount of practice. If you’re just beginning your dog training journey, this course on dog training 101 will show you the basics of “clicker training”.
- Sit: This is the first trick most dogs should learn. It’s necessary to not only show that you’re the boss, but that they should be in a sitting position until told otherwise. It’s a great trick to teach a dog that you may end up taking into large crowds of people, or something you want them to do if they’re getting too excited, and in the way. When they’re sitting is also the perfect time to leash them for a walk.
- Lie Down: The next logical trick after sitting is lying down. Like sitting, it keeps them in one place and out of trouble, and may even save your dog’s life. The lie down command is meant to keep your dog in a prone position and paying attention to you, not casually lounging about. It’s also meant to calm them down if other dogs or children are nearby and are exciting your dog.
- Stay: Teaching your dog to sit or lie down is great, but the second part of those commands is the stay command. If they’re able to sit and lie down, that means nothing if they immediately get back up and get excited. A well trained dog should not only be able to stay, but to keep staying eve if you’re out of sight, especially in a dangerous situation, like at an intersection. Puppies tend to be the most excitable dogs, and you’ll want to train them early. This course on puppy training will teach your young dog discipline for a more enriching adulthood.
- Learn Their Name: This is an obvious one, but if a dog doesn’t recognize and respond to her name, she’s much more likely to get into more trouble. Teaching the dog her name creates trust, and makes the trick teaching process easier. Once she learns to respond to her name, the dog/owner relationship turns a new corner.
- Come: Knowing that your dog will return at your beck and call is very important, but is a difficult trick to teach, especially for more rambunctious dogs. When teaching it, you must really make it worth their while to stop whatever fun/troublesome thing they’re doing and come over to you.
If you already have a family, and are considering adding a dog to the mix, this article on the best family family dogs will show you which breeds work well with kids in an indoor lifestyle, and this course with 8 dog tricks will show you some more basics your dog can learn.
More Difficult Tricks
These tricks are more difficult that the basics, and will take a bit more time and patience on your part. These tricks begin to incorporate some of the more basic tricks your dog may already know, and build upon them. While some of these tricks may not be as necessary as the first ones, they’ll still provide time for you and your pet, and will impress your friends and neighbors.
- Leave It/Drop It: These commands can save your dog’s life by keeping them away from potentially dangerous foods or animals. “Leave it” also provides a good foundation for food balancing tricks down the road. “Drop it” can be used in both recreational and more serious situations. If they’ve picked up something gross or harmful, the command will tell them to spit it out immediately, and if you’re trying to play fetch with your dog, the drop it command lets you throw the object without having to wrestle it away.
- Wait: “Wait” will teach your dog to stop if he gets too far ahead of you during a walk. It’s good if they’re off leash and you’re about to take a blind corner, or if any other potentially dangerous situation lies ahead.
- Heel: “Heel” is also used while walking, but it keeps them by your side the entire time. Just like holding a kid’s hand, heel keeps you in control of your dog at a busy or dangerous situation. Need help training your dog when walking him? This course on leash training will have your dog walking politely right next to you.
- Speak/Be Quiet: Teaching your dog to bark on command can be useful to ward off intruders, or other unwanted visitors. It’s also a fun trick to show your friends. Teaching them to be quiet is just as useful. If they begin to freak out at another animal, or bark whenever the doorbell rings, this command can lower the stress levels of people on both sides of the front door.
- Shake: This one’s more for the human than it is for the dog, as there’s no real reason a dog would need to put up his paw, but it’s cute for when your dog meets someone new. This is one of the easier tricks to train your dog to do, and takes very little time.
- Balancing Food: Another one for the humans out there more than for the dog itself, this one shows not only the owner’s prowess at training their friend, but also the dog’s self-discipline and patience. It uses the “stay” and “leave it” commands together, as you balance a piece of food on the dog’s snout while they sit with it on there, not eating it.
- Roll Over: A perfect time to use a target stick, this trick assumes that your dog has already mastered the “sit” and “lie down” commands, and will be able to build upon those. This one is very step-by-step oriented, with a treat being used to gradually spin the dog around. This one is tough because they will just want to reach out and grab the treat, so be patient with this one.
For Experts Only
These final tricks are not necessary at all, but may end up making like a little easier for you. They still provide you with the chance to show others just how smart your dog is, but also will show how much of an expert dog trainer you are.
- Pick Up Laundry: This trick incorporates the “drop it” command, and because the laundry is already dirty, it doesn’t really matter if the dog’s mouth is on it. You’ll want to first train the dog to drop a toy into a bucket, or wherever you happen to keep your dirty clothes, then give him a treat. Keep training with their favorite toy, then gradually switch to clothes. After a while, they’ll be picking up your dirty socks in no time.
- Skateboard: Usually only bulldogs do this trick, but your pooch could possibly learn this difficult, too. First, get her used to being on the board without it moving, placing her on top of it, and putting something behind the wheels to keep the board stationary. Then, get her comfortable with putting her front paws on the board, allowing it to move just slightly, even placing the board on a very slight incline. Hopefully the dog learns to eventually put its whole body on the board, making the board ride of it’s own power. If you’re dog ends up liking this action, it will soon learn to run up to the board, jump on (and stay on), and go for a ride. If you’ve finally taught your dog to ride a skateboard, or do any other impressive trick, you’ll want to take a picture of it. To make that picture look as good as possible, this course on retouching your dog photos will make that moment look as incredible as you remember it.
- Get a Drink From the Fridge: This trick, for the bigger dogs out there, is the Super Bowl of dog tricks. It involves many steps, and your pup must be a good retriever. It requires a rope tied to the refrigerator door, then showing them how to open the fridge, get a drink, close the door, and bring a drink to you. This one’s recommended for the most patient of dog owners out there.
We’ve covered but a few of the dog tricks out there, some of them are absolutely essential in keeping your dog safe, others are meant simply to entertain us humans (and stimulate the dog). Just make sure you start with the basics, as not only are they necessary for safety, they provide a good foundation for the more involved tricks to be taught down the road. If you’d like to teach your dog more tricks than what we’ve covered here, this course with 25 different dog tricks will help turn your dog into a genius!