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How to teach a dog to do tricks

Updated on June 30, 2009

Dancing on its hind legs, jumping ropes, rolling over, playing dead are only some of the tricks done by a pet that brings so much laughter and enjoyment to the family. To us humans, a dog that performs tricks is a source of amusement. However, to a dog, tricks are like games that keep them alert, stimulate and hone the mind as well as a good way of expending excess energies. 

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Easy tricks, hard tricks

Dogs are intelligent creatures but they have different personalities. To the delight of an owner, a pet may learn the trick easily. However, some dogs would find it very hard to learn the tricks. This should not put off the owner from teaching the pet. Neither should it be a cause to punish the dog. The age, the attitude and the energy level of the dog have to be considered in teaching a certain trick. A trick that is learned and done easily by a young dog may prove too much for a mature and heavy dog.

Clear directions

Simple and clear directions that will be easily understood by the dog are one of the most effective tricks in teaching a dog to do tricks. The direction or the command must be repeated in a precise manner. Changing the command or even the tone or the volume of the voice would confuse the pet.

The commands

Incorporate hand motions with the verbal commands. Dogs will be more attracted with hand motions. Moreover, they will better understand what the trainer is trying to say.  The rolling motion of the hand will be associated by the dog to the roll over command, the raising of the hand for the high five command and the outstretched hand for the beg trick.

Tricks and treats

Trick training and treats go hand in hand. Giving dog treats is a positive reinforcement in trick training. Dogs will always react to food. A trick will be associated with the command, with being obedient and generally for showing good behavior. The rule of thumb is not to give the dog a treat if it refuses to budge. The treat should be given as a reward and not as a bribe to move. Treats should be coupled with praises and a lot of patting. If the dog is already obeying the command, the treats may be removed gradually. The dog has to learn to do tricks not because of the treats. The dog should do the tricks because the pet knows that it pleases you.

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