Useful Tricks to Teach your Dog

Useful Tricks

  • If your dog already knows how to heel on your left, teach him to heel on your right or to walk right behind you. These may be useful in crowds, narrow corridors, etc., and heeling on the right is also needed in Agility. Remember to use a new command for heeling on the ‘wrong’ side!
  • Teach your dog to lift up each of his feet on command (‘right-front’ etc.) This is useful when you clip his nails, or need to wash or wipe him, etc.
  • Are you tired of collecting all of your dog’s chew toys, tennis balls, squeaky toys, teddy bears etc. when your parents-in-law or your non-dog-loving boss is coming for dinner? Teach your dog to do it himself! He can learn to pick up all of his toys and put them into a box on command.
  • If you live somewhere where it rains frequently, you probably already hate the way your dog shakes his coat dry when he is close to you or your clean laundry etc.? You can teach him to do that on command so that you can ask him to ‘shake!’ or ‘rock’n’roll!’ when he is standing a little bit further away.
  • Is your duty in the family to wake everybody up in the morning — a routine which often requires lots of time and effort, and is never appreciated? Teach your dog to do it for you! “Go wake up Jane!” “Go wake up Daddy!” and your dog licks their faces or pokes them with his nose until they are awake.
    Another version of this: The dog ‘digs’ in the morning: on command, she rips back the covers from around a malingerer and drags them (the covers) back to the foot of bed, exposing said body to cold air and (ostensibly) motivating rising.
  • If you live alone and sometimes fall asleep again after turning off the alarm clock in your sleep, you can teach your dog to start licking and poking you at the sound of your alarm clock.
  • Everybody’s heard of the classical trick where a dog fetches slippers or a newspaper, but what about letting your dog ‘answer the phone’ (lift up the receiver for you), put an empty beer bottle back in the box, or carry some other things on command? (It’s possible to teach a dog to identify a very large number of objects by names).
  • When you go out for a walk, let your dog fetch his own collar and/or leash. Have him get his collar from the shelf when you say “collar!”. Some people also use this in Agility, when they finish their run the dog goes to get his leash instead of jumping around the handler demanding for more action.
  • Teach your dog to ‘finds your keys’. Also good for accustoming dogs to metal articles in mouth for utility work. You can also teach your dog to bring the box of Kleenex when you sneeze.
  • Teach your dog to stop and look before crossing a road. You can first teach your dog the directions (“look right” and “look left”), and then combine the commands to sit and to look left-right-left! before given the permission to cross. Add the command “Any cars coming?” for the entire trick.  If you are consistent with your training, you can possibly condition your dog not to start crossing the road as long as he sees cars approaching, which would make this trick also extremely useful.
  • Teach your dog to “back up”. With this command, you can give him a simple command to “back up”, which gets him out of the way and also earns him some praise — instead of him receiving human “growls” because he’s in the way.
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