Dog Training: Tricks

Tricks are both enjoyable and extremely useful. While they are fun to show off, these tricks can also be useful for teaching your dog the basic obedience skills they need. Many tricks help teach impulse control, good manners, and a variety of other useful behaviors. These dog training tricks are also a great way to bond with your dog.


Have your pup sit and lie down, and then, keeping a treat extremely close to your pup’s body, instruct them to “Rollover.” Then, move the lure backward along one side of the muzzle to the top of their neck and over the shoulders. As your pup rolls over onto their side and back, keep moving the food lure so that they roll completely over into the down position once more. 


Another variation of rollover is “Playing dead.” While this is a fun trick to perform, it’s also a great way of getting your dog into a more relaxed position for rest. It’s also helpful if you need to examine their feet. Begin by having your dog lie down. Then, using a treat lure, slowly bring the treat from your dog’s nose over their shoulder. As they follow the treat, they should move into a sideways lying position. Once your dog has gotten used to doing this a few times, add in a word such as “Bang” to associate with the movement.


Have your pup sit and stay, and raise the treat a head’s length above your dog’s nose, so that they lift their front paws off the ground. If your pup jumps up, lower the lure and move it backward a tad. Initially, it may be easier to practice this exercise in a corner, so that your dog can lean against the walls to keep balance.


With your dog standing beside you, sandwiched between yourself and a wall, move a treat under your pup’s chin and toward their chest. This will encourage them to take a step backward to try and follow the treat. Once your dog has moved back, praise and reward. From there, you can add in a hand motion of backing up.


Start with your pup lying down, and inch a treat along the ground a little way in front of their nose. If your pup stands up, have them lie down and try again. Alternatively, move the food lure under some low-slung barrier, such as a bed, coffee table, or even under your leg. This will help encourage your dog to “army crawl” forward without standing back up.


Instruct your pup to stand, and move the treat down to the ground to come to rest a few inches in front of your pup’s front paws. This will encourage your dog to drop their forequarters until their elbows touch the ground. 

Turn around

While you may not think of this as one of the top dog training tricks, “Turn around” can be a great way to get your dog to learn to pay attention to you. Have your dog stand facing you and move the treat in a horizontal circle over your pup’s head, so that your dog moves to follow the circle. Once your dog has mastered moving in one direction, you can also add in a “Reverse,” guiding your dog to move in the opposite one.


Fetch is a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body. And, for very smart breeds, like Border Collies, you can add additional objects to up the challenge. Begin by grabbing a toy your dog loves playing with. Play a few rounds of tug of war or play, and then gently toss the toy a few feet away. If your dog runs and grabs it, praise and reward them. Once your dog is holding the toy, you can also ask them to come back to you, rewarding them with a treat for handing off the toy.

Go to places

Request your pup to “Go to your mat,” show your dog a treat, and then run and put it on the pup’s mat. When your pup reaches the mat, the treat is their reward. At a later stage in training, put the reward on your pup’s mat before asking them to go there. Once your dog reaches the mat, ask them to lie down. Periodically, give your pup treats whilst they remain in place. 

You can also use this to train your dog to go to other locations, such as a gated-off room or their crate. Following the same methods, start by tossing the treat until your dog is comfortable going in and out. From there, you can add in a command such as “Crate” or “Go to your room,” offering treats on success. Remember, these spots should never be used for punishment. Always use positive reinforcement, and if your dog seems stressed, try again later.

Go to people

When two people are training at the same time, it is possible to do yo-yo recalls back and forth. This technique is great for teaching commands such as “Come” or “Fetch.” Start by having both people sit on opposite ends of a room, or in a large outdoor area while your dog is safely attached to a long leash. When your dog wanders off far enough from one person, have them call in a high-pitched voice, “Come” or your dog’s name. When your dog approaches, praise and reward. Then, the next person can practice calling.

“Go to people” commands can be practiced with different people spread out in different rooms of the house or on walks outdoors. It is one of the quickest ways to exercise a dog to exhaustion with minimal expenditure of energy on behalf of the pet parents. 

More dog training tricks to learn

These tricks are a great way to bond and work towards positive behaviors. If you’re looking for more dog training tricks to teach, check out 10 fun, impressive tricks you can teach any dog. Or, learn more about other obedience-related tricks that can help make walking your dog easier.

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