Cool Variations on Standard Dog Tricks
Most dog owners love having a portfolio of tricks their canine companions can pull out at any time. But what if your pup only knows the basics like sit, stay, and down? Not many spectators will be impressed by a dog with basic manners, but don't fret. With a bit of work you can turn those boring commands into funny, unique tricks that are sure to be crowd-pleasers!
Teach New Phrases
Creating funny themes for tricks can turn 'sit' into a work of performance art. For example, I know a woman who is dressing up her dog as a wizard for Halloween and has taught him new commands for old tricks. Now, she can point a 'wand' at her dog, cast a 'spell,' and he will obediently react as required. Some of their tricks are:
- Petrificus Totalus: 'Stay' and 'Stand Still'
- Wingardium Leviosa: 'Sit up' or 'Beg'
- Avada Kedavra: 'Play Dead'
- Expelliarmus: 'Drop it' (the dog carries his own wand)
If you aren't a Harry Potter fan, there's tons of other themes to pick from. Put a bandana on your pup and come up with 'cowboy' tricks. Your imagination is the limit with this one, as most dogs can pick up new phrases without issue.
Break Tricks Down into Different Forms
There are many ways to perform a trick. When you say 'down,' does your dog sprawl on his side, present his belly, or go into a sphinx-like position? Or, when your dog sits up, does he beg, wave, or give a little bunny hop? You can teach variations on tricks with new words, giving your dog a much bigger trick arsenal without requiring a huge amount of mental exertion.
So your dog can perform one trick at a time- can he perform a few in a row? Have your dog beg for mercy before you have him play dead, for example, or have a pup greet people with a wave and bow. Can your dog fetch? Teach him to put his toys away into a toy box, or fetch something from the fridge on command. In the end, this will probably constitute teaching new tricks, but the basic idea is to teach your dog a new command based on what he already knows. Get creative!
Any dog can learn a trick, given the right methods and patience. On a personal note, I own an intelligent Boxer who isn't excessively food-oriented and is harder to train because of it. To keep her focused and happy, I have to use excessive praise and carefully control any frustration I feel, lest she go into appeasement mode. My slightly dim-witted mutt is much easier because he'll do just about anything for a treat. The key is to find what your dog wants most, and use that to make training time a happy association in your dog's mind.