So you’ve just brought your puppy home and you’re thinking: What tricks can I teach my dog?
People always ask us at what age you should start teaching your puppy new tricks. The answer is immediately! From the dawn of time, folk have been training their dogs – you should too! There are many things you can train your dog to do and you should definitely start thinking about training from the very start of your time together.
Things to consider before you start teaching your dog tricks
Training your dog is very rewarding but you need to be aware of the dos and don’ts before you can train your dog. There are many tricks that dogs can do but the important thing to remember is that when you start with any kind of puppy tricks training that you must be patient. If you’re not a patient trainer then you’ll be setting yourself up for a fall.
Why should you teach your dog tricks
People used to think that teaching your dog to do tricks was something only bored people did. Most folk thought that if your dog is obedient and is house trained that the training stopped there. That’s not the case! These days if you can spend a good amount of time (and patience!) training your dog you’ll see the benefits for the life of your puppy. Training not only makes dog much more obedient, it also ensures that your dog is a joy to take with you to places. It’s becoming very common to take your dog to pubs, restaurants, on holiday, to the beach or even to the mall, but teaching your dog to sit, stay, fetch, not to bark is imperative to make you and your dog feel welcome.
Using Positive reinforcement to teach your puppy tricks
Pet gear lab recommends that you use positive reinforcement and rewards based training when you’re thinking about what tricks you can teach your dog. That means you reward good behaviour and you ignore bad behaviour. Reward based training also enhances the relationship between dog and owner. Rewards don’t always need to be in the form of a tasty food treat either. Verbal praise such as “good boy!” in a pleasant and encouraging tone of voice does wonders for your dog’s wellbeing.
How to stop unwanted behaviour when teaching your puppy new tricks
Sometimes we can react to unwanted behaviour by yelling or getting angry and what you’re doing is inadvertently reinforcing the bad behaviour. Dogs perceive this as attention and the unwanted behaviour is simply reinforced. For some dogs any form of attention is better than no attention at all. So for example, when your dog is barking and you shout at your dog the dog may think that you’re giving it attention, and keep barking. It’s best to say a firm NO when your dog is barking. And try to distract it. Cesar Milan has some great information to stop your dog from barking.
How do you get started with teaching your puppy new tricks.
Here are some quick tips on the steps to training and maintaining an obedient and balanced dog from the start.
So What tricks can I teach my dog, you’re saying?
Housebreaking your puppy should be the very first thing he gets taught.
All puppies become conditioned to never poop or pee in their dens. They are hard wired to go to the toilet somewhere where they aren’t sleeping or living. That’s why you should always take your puppy outside to round about the right spot when you take your puppy out. It’s a good idea to reward your puppy with lots of positive praise when they do their business. Once you teach your puppy that going to the loo outside is the right place to go then you can start thinking about the next tricky to teach your puppy. Very important: be sure not to punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create negative association with his bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and quietly remove the puppy to the place where you want him to go.
The next trick to teach your puppy is to walk with the lead.
You should teach your puppy that a dog walk is a positive and rewarding experience. That means you decide when it’s time to go walkies and not the other way around. You are the pack leader and you should make your puppy aware with positive reinforcement that walking is something you decide to do. That doesn’t mean that you can be lazy and not walk your puppy everyday. Please find a safe place to walk your puppy and only take her out when she’s had her first vaccinations. It’s worth discussing with your vet when it’s a good time to take your puppy out for a walk.
Teaching your puppy to fetch.
Quite simply the fetch is probably the easiest and best trick to teach your puppy. It’s also the very best way to exercise your puppy as it means they’ll be running much more than the standard walk you can give her. Once your puppy fetches successfully, you can upgrade the fetch game with Frisbee. So how do you teach your puppy to fetch?
Take a small ball or soft toy and show it to your puppy. They should show interest to the toy, and it’s worth having a reward to hand which interest them. Throw the ball or soft toy about two meters away from you and when you puppy chases the ball call it by it’s name to come back to you. Do not run after the pup at this time. Try and lure them back to you with a reward and then reward it when it drops the ball near your feet. Preferably in your hand. Reward it immediately and give it praise when it brings the ball back. It’s really important not to chase after the puppy to get the ball as this will enforce a chase game! Chase games are no fun when you’re trying to play fetch as your puppy has much more energy than you!
Hopefully teaching your puppy new tricks is a rewarding experience and one that you both can enjoy for years to come. The important thing to remember is that puppies learn by positively reinforcing their good behaviour and ignoring their bad behaviour.
Teach your dog how to stay.
This trick is a really really useful one: you can use it, for example, to make your dog stay while you are hiding stuff (like a toy to fetch) – and if your dog masters it you will be able to leave your dog out of a shop, say ‘Stay’ and – when you came out – find him in the same position you left him.
When you say ‘Stay’ your dog will stay in the spot you placed him, either sitting or laying down.
This video does a great job of further explaining
Teaching your puppy new tricks
What tricks can I teach my dog ?
How to do it
Hold a treat in front of your dog and make him sit. Then say ‘Stay’ and, while holding your hand open in front of him, walk away a few steps – always facing him and always saying ‘Good Boy’ (if he doesn’t move). Start with just a few steps and make the stay always longer (try also to go to their rooms or behind corners). Give him the treat when you go back to him.
Tips & Tricks
You can have your dog sit when he is staying, but you can also make him stay when he is in the ‘Lay’ position.
So we hope that gives you a good idea of What tricks you can teach your dog. There’s more to be learned over at Dummies, so be sure to check that out too. Over to you? What were some of the first tricks you started teaching your dog?