First, we’ll level with you: Even if our dog were a complete idiot who never listened to a single command or learned a single trick, we’d still love her. Those tip-tappy toenails on the wood. The clumsy whole-butt tail wagging. Even that stinky, stanky hot breath. They’re all lovable and irreplaceable. After all, there’s a reason why emotional support dogs are a mainstay at children’s hospitals and hospice care facilities. All this to say if the only cool dog trick our dog ever learned was how to be excited when we walked in the door, that would be enough.
Having a dog isn’t about the tricks, but they’re certainly fun. What tricks you teach your dog might depend on what you need from them, what your kids will find most entertaining, or simply what sparks your interest. How you teach your dog, however, tends to be the same across the board. The American Kennel Club offers some pretty helpful tips. They recommend first teaching your dog to want praise. Any time your dog does something “right,” impressive, or even sweet, reward her. This is called “positive reinforcement” and it works with toys, treats, or just additional love and praise. For some dogs and for easy tasks, a simple but excited, “Good boy!” is all you need. For more complicated tricks, you might have to pull out the big guns, like those tiny but super pungent treats. They also suggest starting early (even at just eight weeks) and keeping sessions short. A couple of 5 to 10-minute sessions each day will be much more effective than one long, boring training session.
So, what do you want to teach your dog? There are tons of cool tricks here but start with the basic commands: Come, stay, and speak. You’ll have a much easier time getting Fido to jump through that hoop if they know how to come when called. Similarly, it’s less stressful teaching them to jump for a frisbee if you teach them to stay when told and they don’t run off. Need a little help with just the basics? Start here before moving on to more complicated tricks.
1. Train Your Dog to Open the Door
This could be a really cool trick. It will certainly surprise your guests. Just keep in mind that if you train your dog to open doors, they might start opening doors to places you don’t want them to go.
2. Train Your Dog to Close the Door
Opening doors is all well and good. But, how about closing a door behind them? Yep. You can teach that, too.
3. Jumping Through Hoops
Once your dog knows basic commands like “come” or “heel,” it becomes a lot easier to teach them more complicated tricks. Is jumping through a hoop useful? Uh, no. But, it’s certainly impressive and fun.
4. Teach Your Dog to “Get”
“Get” is different from “fetch.” In the dog training world, fetch implies you have an object, you’re tossing it, and your dog is retrieving it. Teaching your dog to “get” something means they’re bringing you an item you request. Since you can teach your dog the names of objects in your home, once they learn to get one or two items, it should be fairly easy to branch out. Start by having them get their leash or your slippers and branch out from there.
5. Train Your Dog to Count
Math can be hard for humans. It turns out, however, that it’s a little easier for Spot.
6. Teach Jump Roping to Your Dog
Wanna make all the other dog owners at the dog park jealous? Teach your pooch how to jump rope! As a bonus, you can refer to playing with your dog as “doing some cardio” and sound very fit.
7. Train Your Dog to Turn Off The Lights
One common command service dogs learn is to turn lights off and on. After all, how often do you find yourself doing just that? Your Doodle may not be a service dog, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be of service when you’re too lazy to get up.
8. Teach Your Dog The Snoot Challenge
Thank God for TikTok or we’d be without this completely useless but cool dog trick.