Trick training is a fun way to spend time with your dog while providing them with an enrichment activity that challenges their brain and yours! With so many tricks to choose from it can be difficult to decide what to do first so I picked my top 5 favorite beginner tricks to help you get started.
- Hand Target/Target Stick
For this trick your dog will learn to touch their nose to your open palm (or extended fingers) or to a target stick using capturing. This is one of my favorite tricks because dogs typically pick it up pretty quickly and it is great for getting them to focus on you. Targeting is also a great foundation skill that can be used later in learning more advanced tricks!
Using a treat lure in front of your dog’s nose encourage them to complete a full circle. Dogs do have preferences just like we do so you may find that your dog learns to turn in one direction more quickly than the other because it feels more natural for them. Be patient if they need a little more time going one way and don’t forget to teach a different command for clockwise and counter-clockwise, your dog will learn the difference!
- Paws Up
One of my favorite tricks to teach through shaping and a great one for dogs that are nervous about interacting with foreign objects. Start with something that is easy for your dog to get both front feet on: overturned water bowl, box, platform, etc. Present the object and begin rewarding when your dog shows any interest like looking at or sniffing before adjusting your criteria step by step (lifting a paw, stepping up with one foot then two). Once your dog knows the cue you can have some fun challenging them with new objects (like a skateboard!).
- Pull on a Rope
This may not seem like much of a trick but it can be very useful for future trick training. Dogs who enjoy a good game of tug will typically pick up on this one pretty quickly. If your dog is not a tug fan you may just have to work a little harder to get them interested. It will be well worth the extra work for this useful skill!
Besides being an adorable trick to show your human friends, dogs seem to love this one too. With your back facing your dog (starting them in a sit or down stay is helpful) spread your feet apart so they have enough space to pop through, Peekaboo! Calling them and showing your treat lure encourages them to move in between your legs and with the right timing they will be sitting and gazing up at you with adoring eyes in no time.
Interested in learning even more tricks with your dog? Check out our Tricks Classes for more information!