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Now that your dog has mastered all of the necessary commands to be well behaved, it's time to have some real fun! It's easier to teach your dog tricks once he's learned how to respect you and you've earned his trust. Those necessary commands help him to do that.
Try these tricks to entertain both of you!
1. Fetch. It's no fun to play ball with a person or an animal that won't give the ball back. Teaching your dog how to fetch will make you both wish playtime would never end.
If your dog is a retriever, you're ahead of the game. Your dog is hard-wired to want to fetch. But other breeds catch on quickly, too. You just have to be more patient and consistent. Train with your dog just a few minutes a day to be the most effective.
To teach your dog to fetch, you need a retrieving training tool called a dumbbell. You can buy it at the pet store. It will be a wooden or plastic tube with flanges on both ends to keep it from falling out of your dog's mouth. Be sure to buy one that your dog can pick up easily and one that will allow him to close his mouth around the middle, not the flared edges.
You start training a dog to fetch by teaching him to open his mouth. Say "Take it" and offer him a food treat. Once he starts opening his mouth in expectation when he hears you say, "Take it," slip the dumbbell inside his mouth. Leave the dumbbell there for a second, then praise him and give him a treat. Try this about four times, and then stop. Do this part of the training for a few days until your dog gets used to having the dumbbell in his mouth.
Now, start putting the dumbbell in your dog's mouth and command, "Hold it." Gently hold his mouth around the dumbbell for a few seconds. Then say, "Give," and let him spit the dumbbell out. Be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Do this exercise for a few days until your pet will hold the dumbbell in his mouth.
Next, hold the dumbbell in front of your dog's mouth and command, "Take it." Pull his head toward the dumbbell if you have to. Be sure to praise and give him a treat, even if he just moves his head toward the dumbbell. Practice this until he's used to taking the dumbbell in his mouth. All you have to do now is increase the distance slowly. Continue working on "Hold it," and "Give." It might be a good refresher course for "Come," too. Before too long, your dog will put it all together!
2. Speak. This is usually a simple trick for your dog to learn if he's vocal already. The trick is to entice him to do it on command and from distances.
First, choose a hand signal - some trainers make a twisting motion with a closed fist; others open and shut their hand using their fingers and thumb. Using your hand signal, command your dog to "speak." When he barks, reward him and praise him. If your dog doesn't bark automatically, continue to give the command until he gets frustrated and barks, then quickly reward him. Keep practicing and he'll soon understand.
3. Shake hands or "Gimme five." This is perhaps the easiest trick to teach your dog. Give your dog the "Sit" command. While you gently hold his paw with one hand, say "Gimme five" and hand him a treat with your other hand. You shouldn't have to do this more than a few times for your dog to get the hang of it.
4. Give me a kiss. This is another easy one. Most dogs will kiss you whether you want them to or not! All you have to do is get them to do it on your terms. Command your dog, "Give me a kiss," and then put your cheek in front of his mouth. When he licks your cheek, praise him and give him a treat.
5. Roll over. Start by giving your dog the "Down" command. Kneel beside him and gently roll him over on his side and command, "Roll over." Keep rolling him until he's upright again, and then give him praise and a treat.
A couple of caveats about this trick:
- Don't keep trying it if it's obvious your pet doesn't like being on his back. Some dogs have stronger backs than others, and if you are successful in teaching your dog to roll over, it's probably a trick you want to retire when he's middle aged. Most elderly dogs have back and hip pain, and there's no point in making your pet suffer.
- Be sure to only perform this trick on grass or carpet. Asking your dog to roll over continuously on a hard surface could hurt him.
6. Play dead. This trick produces gales from laughter from school-age boys, so if you have one of those, you might want to get him involved with training the dog on this one. A good time to practice this trick is you're your dog has just exercised and is ready to rest. There's a prerequisite, too - your dog must know the "Down" command.
Give your dog the "Down" command and notice what side he's leaning on. Gently push him on over as you command, "Bang." As he rolls over, praise him and rub his tummy. Repeat until you don't have to use pressure to force him to roll to his side. Use the "Stay" command to stay "dead." Add the hand signal, a pointing forefinger, as you command the "Bang."
Most Important Is that you have fun with your dog. A happy dog will always be the dog that responds to your every command. Have a fun day with your dog!
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Marilyn Burnham was the owner operator of 4 successful dog grooming stores in British Columbia, Canada for more than a decade. To spend more time with her children Marilyn made the decision to sell her business in the mid 90's. Get a copy of her book: ‘Dog Owners Boot Camp’ The How To Guide, Dog Training Secrets Professional Dog Trainers Don’t Want You To Know!
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