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4 Tricks You can Teach Your Dog

Updated on July 23, 2012
Dakota after a swim.
Dakota after a swim. | Source

4 Tricks to Teach Your Dog

As a dog owner, I’m sure you have contemplated teaching your dog some commands or maybe you are brand new to dog ownership and you’re not sure where to start. Well, you’ve come to the right place. This article will teach you some basic commands for your dog which will enhance your relationship with your pooch.

It doesn’t matter how old your dog is when attempting to teach them something new. With puppies, however you want to wait until they’re about 12 weeks old before attempting to train. This is mainly because their cognitive functions are still developing prior to this which makes training difficult if not impossible. With older dogs, providing them with their favorite treat is probably the best way to keep the motivation level high. Otherwise, they may not respond to the new tricks as you had anticipated.

There are many ways to teach your dog new tricks, but I have found that positive reinforcement works the best. This means every time your dog correctly demonstrates the command, he/she is given lots of praise. How you give praise is completely up to you but as for myself, I use treats to begin with and then slowly replace the treats with statements like “good boy!” and give him lots of love. Sometimes this will work better than treats because as you know our dogs love attention from us.


How to Teach Your Dog to Sit

Sit, Fido, Sit

This is probably one of the easiest tricks or commands to teach your dog and can generally be learned in a short amount of time. Here is a quick guide to use.

  • Hold your dog’s favorite treat in front of his/her nose and let him sniff it for a few seconds.
  • Take the treat away and tell him/her to sit and then gently push his/her behind down on the ground.
  • Once his/her butt hits the ground, instantly give the treat as a reward and your praise.
  • Do this over and over again for probably 5-10 minutes depending upon his/her level of cooperation.
  • Repeat this cycle at least once per day until your dog understands the command.
  • It generally takes the average dog about 50-100 times of teaching before he/she learns a command so be patient.

This is a pretty simple trick that you can teach your dog in your spare time. As your dog learns the command, try alternating the reward on one of the successful completions with simply your praise. Make sure you sound excited though to distract him/her from seeking treats and it gets them excited to do it again.


How to Teach Your Dog to Stay

This is another easy command you can teach your dog in a relatively short period of time and it’s probably one of the most important. If your dog is able to stay upon command when other people or animals are around, it shows a since of control and respect. You are able to control your pet without yelling or hitting and you’re showing respect to others by not allowing your dog to do whatever he/she wants. You’re going to use the same technique as the sit command, however once he/she sits, you’re going to then say “stay” and put your hand up like a stop sign. This will be difficult at first because he/she will want to move around, so you may have to place the treat by his mouth and let him smell it until he’s been sitting for approximately 10 seconds. Then, give him the treat.

  • Give your dog the ‘sit’ command, however hold off on giving the treat.
  • After your dog sits, say ‘stay’ and put your hand up to the dog like a stop sign. This can be used in emergency situation.
  • Once your dog stays for approximately 10 seconds, give the treat.
  • You may have to hold the treat directly in front of the snout for him/her to actually stay, but don’t give the treat until 10 seconds has been reached.

As you move through this process you’ll want to increase the time your dog is able to stay in the sitting position however make sure the increments are small. Don’t go from 10 seconds to 1 minute, otherwise you’re setting him/her up for failure. Go from 10 seconds to 15-20 seconds and so on. You’ll be able to judge whether or not your dog is learning the command.

After you reach a minute of staying, start moving your distance away from the dog or move behind your dog. You can even increase distractions after your pooch has learned the command because ultimately this will be used in situations where your dog’s health and/or safety may be at risk and you want him/her to focus on you, not the potential threat.

How to Teach Your Dog to Lay Down

This next command is a trick your dog should learn because when executed properly it demonstrates your ability as an owner to control your dog and it can be a great way to divert his/her attention from a distraction. I use this command often when my dog starts going after my son’s toys to chew on when he’s bored. Once he lays down I give him praise and it distracts him from going back to the toy.

This command is also a sign of submissiveness by your dog so don’t be surprised if it takes him/her extra time to learn the command, especially if he/she is an intelligent breed. If you have not asserted yourself as the pack leader, now is the time otherwise you face a difficult road teaching your dog this trick. This command should be learned after your dog has learned how to sit.

  • Start your dog in the sitting and staying position.
  • Next grab his/her favorite treat and say ‘down’ or ‘lay down’ and draw the treat towards the ground. Your dog should follow the treat to the ground.
  • As soon as all four legs and his/her belly are on the ground, give the treat and lots of praise.

Repeat this cycle over and over until your dog grasps the command. Again, this trick may take additional patience and coaxing for cooperation. Remain calm and stay excited because your dog feeds off of your enthusiasm.



Patience is Key
50-100 Repetitions works best
Use positive reinforcement
Keep the sessions short
Never yell at your dog while training
Keep the pace fast and exciting

How to Teach Your Dog to Come

Last, but certainly not least is the ‘come’ command. This is a command I use to release my dog from the sit, stay and lay down tricks. It works great when if your dog somehow gets away from you or becomes distracted outside. It’s very simple and can be used to save your dog’s life! I remember shortly after our dog learned this command I had to use it to keep him from getting hit by a car! This command should be used after your dog has learned how to sit and stay because it involves you calling him/her from a distance.

  • Start with your dog in the sitting position.
  • Tell your dog to ‘stay’ and move backwards several feet to start.
  • Stop and then in an excited tone of voice say ‘come’. Say it over and over again.
  • Your dog will pick this command up quickly due to his/her natural desire to be close to you.
  • Give lots of praise and treats.
  • Increase distances slowly because your dog will experience anxiety as he/she learns and sees you leaving.

Your dog’s anxiety level will increase as you increase distance until he/she learns the command and understands you’re not really leaving him/her. Just be patient and increase the distance slowly for maximum cooperation.

When training your dog or puppy, make sure to use positive reinforcements such as treats, praise, toys, or anything else your dog finds stimulating and exciting. Patience and consistency are keys for your dog to learn any new trick because it does take 50-100 repetitions before he/she will truly grasp the command. Start out slow and gradually build up as your pooch understands. Don’t underestimate praise! Dogs love praise from their owners and it will help increase his/hers desire to learn. Enjoy training and make it fun!

For more information on a great mix breed for your family check out my hub on my American Staffordshire Terrier mix.

For more information on teaching your dog how to walk with you, check out my hub on Loose Leash Walking.


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