A well-behaved dog that can sit, stay and come is fantastic. It’s even more fun when your pet can high-five you, shake and roll over on command. Here’s how to teach your dog to do tricks.
What better way to spend your time together indoors than to take your dog’s training to the next level? Remember that before you can teach your dog to do tricks, your best friend needs to know the basics. Start by teaching simple commands and then move on to harder skills. To get the best results, have short but regular training sessions when your dog is in a calm, attentive mood, reserve your patience and have some doggy treats for training on hand!
Recommended dog treats for training
Which trick would you like to teach your dog?
- How to teach your dog to sit
- How to teach your dog to stay
- How to teach your dog to come
- How to teach your dog to lay down
- How to teach your dog to roll over
- How to teach your dog to high five
- How to teach your dog to shake hands
How to teach your dog to sit
Let your dog see a treat in your hand and once you have their attention hold it in front their nose and slowly move it in an arc over their head. Your dog will tilt their head back and might even sit on their own as they try to reach the treat. You can say their name first to get their attention and then clearly say “sit” when their bottom touches the ground. Reward them with the treat and give lots of praise — pat them, make it a big deal! Repeat as often as you can, and after a time your dog will positively associate the word “sit” with a treat or praise and will perform the action.
How to teach your dog to stay
Now your pup has mastered sitting, it’s time to move on to staying. Have your dog sit, hold your palm out, take a step back and clearly say “stay”. You may of course use their name first before the command. If your dog stays, reward them. Keep practicing and take more and more steps back each time before praising them for staying.
How to teach your dog to come
There’s nothing worse than chasing an excited dog round and round the dog park yelling “come”. Teach your dog to return to you on command by putting a long lead on them and letting them wander. This is best done in the backyard or similar in order to reduce distractions. Call their name and then clearly and firmly say “come” with a treat in hand. Once your dog reaches you, reward them with the treat. Repeat this process until your dog is happy to come over to you even without a treat as a reward.
How to teach your dog to lay down
This is another trick you can teach your dog once they know how to sit on cue. Once your dog is sitting, squat down and hold a treat in front of their nose and then slowly move this straight down towards the floor, then drag it along the ground, away from your dog. They should follow your hand with their nose and slide downwards. As you’re making this L motion, say their name and “down” as your dog slides into the down position. With repetition, your dog will soon be happy to perform this trick even without a treat.
Tip: If you’re using “down” as the cue word for this action, remember to use a different word, like “off” when you’re asking your dog to get off the couch so you don’t confuse them.
How to teach your dog to roll over
Is your dog a champion of laying down on command? Now they’re ready to learn the advanced command of rolling over! When first teaching your dog how to roll over, breaking up each step into smaller parts and giving them a treat for completing each mini-step can make it easier for you and your dog. To begin, have your dog lie down with their belly on the floor and paws out. Now, hold a treat in front of their nose with a closed hand, so they can’t eat it before they’ve performed the trick.
Next, you want to encourage your dog to lie over on their side by slowly moving the treat from their nose towards their shoulder. Your dog’s nose, and therefore head and body, should be following the treat this whole time and this should cause them to shift their weight onto their side.
Reward your dog with the treat, and begin the third phase of teaching this trick (we told you it was advanced!). With another treat in hand, hold this in front of your dog’s nose and them slowly move it in a close arc over their head, onto their other side. By following your hand, your dog should roll all the way around to their other side and this is when you should clearly say their name and “roll over”. They deserve a treat for getting this far, don’t you think?
Finally, when your dog has rolled from one side to the other, move the treat slightly further away from them. This should cause your dog to roll all the way over back onto their belly so they can get to the treat. And there you have it!
How to teach your dog to high five
Your dog will be the life of the party with this impressive trick. Start by asking your dog to sit. Next, hold a treat in front of your pet but keep it in an enclosed fist and hold it closer to their paws than their mouth. Your dog will attempt to get at the treat by pawing at your hand. As soon as they touch their paw to your hand, praise them and reward them with the treat. Repeat this process several times and begin saying “high five” as soon as your dog lifts their paw off the ground. You may of course use their name first. Keep practicing this and raise the treat higher each time and soon enough your dog will associate the cue “high five” to touching their paw to your hand.
How to teach your dog to shake hands
Another party trick is to shake hands! Have your dog sit then hold the treat out in front of them near their paws. When they lift their paw to touch your hand, use your other hand to gently grab their paw and shake it while saying the cue “shake”, then drop their paw and reward your dog with the treat. You may of course use their name first. Level up the trick by teaching them how to shake with either paw!
In order for your dog to enjoy learning new tricks, it’s important to have your training sessions when they’re not overly excited. Keep each session short so your dog doesn’t become bored and lose attention and always reward them with lots of cuddles and verbal praise as well as offering treats! Further, remember to practice good hygiene and always wash your hands before and after interacting with your dog.