The Dad Gaming Bootcamp: How To Take Over Rocket League Before It Takes Over You

Rocket League Car on Busy Freeway
(Getty)

I bought Rocket League for my son for his 8th birthday. He’s probably played 20 times since then. I’ve played it nearly every single day since. 6 months later, I am ranked Platinum.

Sometimes it feels like I’m amazing at this game, but I know that compared to many, many others…I’m terrible. But that’s exactly what keeps me coming back. It’s what experts call “flow” and it’s so addicting. Like throwing back some Planters Pop & Pour, proud sponsors of The Dad Gaming League, once you start, you just keep coming back.

Rocket League is the most sport-like game I’ve ever played. The strategy and coordination, sure, but I think mostly it is because of the progression of skills. It’s one of those games where you can come in, learn the basics, and have a blast. But there are so many skills that can be honed and refined over days, weeks, months, and YEARS, just like real sports. Yes, really. The soccer car game. 

Normally we write comprehensive “getting started” posts that will help newbs get up to speed immediately while giving experts some tips and tricks they can use as well. However, the skill range of Rocket League players is just massive. The difference between a first time player and a Grand Champ is hard to fully comprehend. And that’s what makes the game so great.

So here we’ll list out the top things to focus on, in order of importance, to get started in Rocket League. But a lot of these things may just link out to other sources. And that’s because a single comprehensive training guide for Rocket League cannot exist. Everyone’s journey will be different. 

PREREQUISITE: HAVE FUN

So there are a ton of Rocket League guides out there right now. 99% of them are geared towards mechanics and skills and how to sweat it out and grind and get better fast. We have a lot of that too, but more geared towards casual players who want to have a good time. See, above all else, we recommend you go into Rocket League with one goal in mind: to have a good time. In true dad fashion, we know it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, we just want everyone to try their best and have fun.

Rocket League lends itself well to sweaty players who want to prove to everyone they are better than them, talking trash along the way. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We encourage you to go into it expecting to have fun and doing just that. So while you can work your way up the ranks and do all of the right things, try not to take it too seriously, and absolutely don’t be a toxic player. Tell the other team, “good shot,” when they make a good shot. Never use “what a save!” sarcastically. And say “gg” at the end of each match, win or lose. This is what being a dad and Rocket League are all about.

So work on your skills if you wanna, but above all else: have fun and treat teammates and opponents kindly. *Dad steps off his soapbox* 

Now, for how to play. 

Camera Settings
Before you even get in to try your first training module or play your first practice game, change your camera settings. The defaults are just so bad. They’re very zoomed in on the car and tough to see the full field. Making this change will make your experience so much better and your leveling up so much faster. You’re welcome to jump right in the game and play with the defaults, find what you like, and change later, but I’d recommend changing them to the below settings right out of the gate…

Play the Bots
The most accessible way to get started is by playing the always-polite bots. In local matches, you can play against varying skill levels of bots. Play some games against the easiest bots, then when you find yourself winning most, increase the difficulty. The max difficulty for bots is not anywhere near the max skill level of real people, so you can use this to get your skills up before jumping into online play.

This tip is listed early because you can jump in and play against bots right away for fun. All the while working on the below skills and returning, again and again, to practice what you learn.

Training Training Training
As I’ve gotten better at Rocket League, I’ve realized the importance of training. It’s laughable, but I’ve even told my wife, “Sorry, I can’t hang out tonight, I have to TRAIN.” This particular move is NOT recommended, but for real, training is important.

You should spend a certain amount of time each RL gaming session in training before you jump into a match. There are a few methods of this.

When you start the game up for the first time, it’ll walk you through the basic controls. This is important for getting started, so take it seriously. From there, there are built in training modules for things like shooting, defending, etc. Try those on beginner. There are also custom modules that are really great for honing particular skills. You can browse them within the RL interface, or Coach JSU gives some really great training package codes in his videos.

Lastly, FREE PLAY is an invaluable resource. It’s just you and the ball. Seems basic, but you can do all kinds of things. Practice dribbling, knock the ball in the wall and then try to nail a shot, or even use your infinite boost to learn to fly.

Kickoffs
This skill is so early mostly because I want to get the word out that LEFT GOES FIRST. Kinda kidding but not really. You’ll notice that you are positioned randomly for kickoffs. Some spots are closer to the ball than others. Whoever is closest should go for it and the other people can defend or boost up. The far left and right diagonal spots are always closer than the back positions. So whoever is there, goes. And if there is one on the left, and one on the right, the one on the LEFT goes! When in doubt, use quick chat to let your team know “I got it!”

The easiest way to get to the ball fast is full gas and full boost all the way through. Then double jump (flip/dodge) into it at the last second. More advanced technique allows for flipping on the way to the ball to get there quicker and preserve boost.

Speed (Boost and Lips)
Rocket League is a game of accuracy and positioning, but above all it is about SPEED. Getting to the ball or in position quickly is vital, and boost is the easiest way to make this happen. But don’t use it all up and have nothing left. You’ve gotta preserve boost.

When you hit supersonic speed, you’ll notice a trail behind your wheels. This is essentially MAX SPEED. So when that happens, you don’t need to use boost anymore. Preserve it.

The quickest way to accelerate is actually not boosting, but flipping. So if you need to get back on defense and go the whole length of the stadium, try to boost a little to get started, and then do two rapid front flips to hit supersonic speed as fast as possible. If you get used to flipping forward to gain speed quickly, you’ll preserve boost and get where you need to go fast.

Flipping into the ball at the last second has the same speed effect, but this time on the ball. Flipping into the ball is the best way to blast a harder shot.

Positioning (Rotations)
Positioning is nearly as important as play mechanics. Even if you have amazing skills in everything else, if you spend the whole time chasing the ball around the field, you’re not going to have a good time, bro, and your team will lose and hate you.

An entire book could be written about positioning and rotations. But the thing to know is that a good and efficient 3s team will always be “rotating” or taking turns being in particular positions. If you’ve spent time on offense trying to pass or take shots, when you run out of boost or possession changes, it is most likely time to get back on defense so whoever was back can move up. It’s not about fairness; it’s about a smooth movement of players around the field to set up pass/shot opportunities and all the while make sure the goal is covered.

With good rotations and positioning, your team won’t need someone planted in the goal, not moving. There will be smooth movement and someone who is ready to be goalie when needed, but also able to take advantage of missteps by the other team.

Shot accuracy and Big Booms
Take some shots when you have an opening! The key to getting better at shot accuracy is to take a lot of shots. In training, sure, and also in games. Keep at it and you’ll gradually get better. Focus on lining up the shot as well as you can as you approach. Those are higher percentage shots.

The other key part of getting good shots is hitting shots with power. A slow moving ball is an easy one to save. But if you hit the ball solid, with speed, and you flip into it right at impact, you’ll launch it at a speed that is much tougher to defend.

Dribbling and Flicks
Just like in soccer or basketball, dribbling is maintaining possession of the ball and moving down the field to where you want to take it. Free play is an amazing place to practice this. Most recommend turning ball cam off when dribbling. Just drive around, slowly tapping the ball on the front of your car and get used to this. Then, when you’re in a game, don’t just blast a wild shot from way downtown, put your dribbling skills to use. This is especially important in 2s or 1s games, with less people to come take the ball away.

Once you have your dribbling capabilities down, you’ll find that sometimes, if you creep up on the ball quickly from the side, the ball will slide onto the top of your car. If you have the ball on top of your car and you single jump or flip forward, it’ll POP into the air straight ahead. Congratulations, that’s your first flick. This type of shot is great for catching opponents off guard who may be coming to challenge your dribble, but also great for popping the ball over a goalie who has to fly high to try to get it.

Aerials
For new players, aerials are easily the most intimidating skill. Don’t let it be. Work on the other stuff first.

The thing about aerials that I found is that it starts with something far simpler: boost+jump.  Early on hitting jump and boost at the same time felt so strange, but for us dads with adult-sized thumbs you get accustomed to it. So start by getting used to hitting boost and jump at the same time when trying to reach those slightly higher shots.

Once you have that down, you’ll find you can press and HOLD boost and jump at the same time. The holding of the boost button will simply allow your jump to continue. If your car is aimed upward, you are flying. Again, just practicing this, and doing it in game when trying to reach balls, will get you used to the mechanics very naturally.

To get higher even faster, you can press that jump button twice. As long as you aren’t pressing any direction on your joystick, your car will push a bit higher on that second press (rather than flipping). Try that to get higher faster.

Just by getting in the habit of this boost+jump button pressing, it’ll naturally lead to more advanced mechanics on aerials when you’re ready.

And Beyond…
Again, this article attempts to give you some skills and things to think about as you start your Rocket League career. But mannnnnnn, people in those champ, grand champ, and SUPERSONIC LEGEND ranks are just unreal. They all have their own styles and mechanics. So if you’re at the level where you are ready to progress, seek out some more advanced material. There’s a ton on YouTube and other places. And join up with a group like The Dad Gaming – Rocket League. There are a ton of extremely elite players there, who are always happy to help folks of all skill levels!

For more of a hands-on look, check out some clips on The Dad Gaming Youtube page:

Above all else, have fun with it! Rocket League is my favorite video game of all time. I love it so much, and I can’t wait to stock up on some Pop & Pours on tournament night to play with all the great Dad Gaming League friends –  It’s gonna be a blast!

(This article was written by the head of The Dad Gaming, Joel Willis. Though he will readily admit he’s not very good at this game, he is getting better all the time. And everything he knows about the game was taught to him by Rocket League Grand Champ and Coach JSU, who also advised on this article and created the instructional videos referenced.)

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

Adam Sandler Shouts Out Happy Gilmore’s “Caddy” and He Nearly Won the Masters

Happy Gilmore Caddy
(Twitter/AdamSandler Universal Pictures)

Will Zalatoris finished second at The Masters, despite playing the course for his first time as a pro and not even having his official tour card yet. He walked away with $1.2 million in prize money and maybe it was partly due to the karma thrown his way by none other than Adam Sandler.

Sandler has made a lot of funny movies, but few better than Happy Gilmore. That movie holds even more sway in the golf world, naturally. Even the talk of a sequel gets fans PSYCHED. So when Sandler himself gave a golfer a shoutout, you know it’s going to get noticed.

He sent well wishes to Zalatoris, who bears a striking resemblance to a grown-up version of the kid who was Happy Gilmore’s caddy in the movie.

‘Have fun today young man. Mr. Gilmore is watching you and very proud,’ Sandler tweeted to his millions of followers.

OK, it’s important to note that while Zalatoris looks very similar, he’s not actually the actor that played the caddy in the iconic movie. Even before the shoutout, he had a wedge in his bag inscribed with one of the caddy’s lines from the movie (Mr. Gilmore, I’m Your Caddy).

So Zalatoris was more than game to play along with Sandler’s shoutout, replying:

“If you’re ever in need of a caddie again let me know. I’ll be better this time. I’m always available for you, Mr. Gilmore.”

When they film the sequel (it’s not confirmed, but let’s try to will it into existence), they need to find a role for Zalatoris, even if he’s caddying for his old friend Happy on the senior tour.

Family Collects 30k Pounds of Food for the Hungry and Starts Mini Food Pantries

Family Starts Mini Food Pantry
(Facebook/Be The Good Project)

The response to a global pandemic has varied, but regardless of the lack of a wholesale government response, the way regular, everyday people have helped those less fortunate has been one of the most inspiring things from the last year. Whether it’s a family starting a food kitchen under a bridge, or providing free plumbing to the elderly and disabled, it’s clear to see those helpers Fred Rogers always talked about.

One family in Virginia fits that mold. When they heard about food insecurity rising sharply and how overwhelmed food pantries were getting, they put a box out on their driveway to collect non-perishable food from their neighbors. It quickly filled up, and Amber and Sterling Marchand and their four kids found a new mission.

“We realized that as much as a need was there, there was also a desire to help,” they told Good Morning America. “We started to reach out to local nonprofits to donate the food and create relationships.”

They began making sandwiches for another local charity that feeds food insecure people and also started becoming a collection point for others who wanted to contribute sandwiches or food. They now deliver 1,500 sandwiches a week. They also started collecting food, which they’ve used to donate to charities and to set up mini food pantries around the community.

They quickly set up a non-profit, the Be The Good Project, to help focus their efforts. To date, they’ve collected nearly 30,000 pounds of food.

“Our laundry room is now mini fridge land, we store the nonperishables in our living room and we have two additional full-size fridges that we’ve added to our garage,” they said. “It has definitely infiltrated [our house], but the neat part is our children, who are fairly young, really do understand what’s happening. Our youngest, who is 3, will say, ‘Is this food for us or food for neighbors?”

They even do emergency grocery delivery for people stuck at home because of the pandemic and gave away more than $11,000 in grocery gift cards around the holidays. In less than a year, the family has organized efforts to donate more than 30,000 pounds of food and nearly 50,000 sandwiches.

Food insecurity is definitely a HUGE problem in the US, as some estimates place nearly 50 million in that category, especially when many schools are still operating remotely, as schools serve a huge food role for many food-insecure kids.

The mini food pantries the family operates in local neighborhoods (some of them assembled by dad Sterling) are a great stop-gap for those who want to donate or take food and can’t make it to a regular food pantry when it’s open. And while the pandemic may have been the starting point for the family, they aren’t going back.

“We know this need for food is not going to go away even as we’re able to return to what we seemingly see as normal,” Amber said. “It’s going to be here for a long time, this is hopefully going to be an outlet for people to continue to help one another.”

New ‘F9’ Trailer Sends the Gang to Infinity and Beyond

F9 Trailer
(YouTube/The Fast Saga)

We were supposed to get Fast 9 last May. Then the pandemic happened and movie theaters were closed and movies were delayed. Many of them ended up, or will end up, on streaming services, but we all know that a streaming platform is no place for a Fast and Furious movie. Especially one that goes to outer space!

So, instead, it’s hitting theaters this summer, and now they’ve finally released a new trailer.

With every Fast movie, the stakes get higher and the spectacles get bigger. Last time they fought a submarine in Russia or some shit. None of it makes any sense and all of it is awesome! This time looks no different.

Not only is the once-presumed dead Han back – along with seemingly every person who has appeared in any of the previous movies (including Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren) because along with the bigger spectacle comes bigger casts – John Cena appears as Dom’s heretofore nonexistent brother. Dom has long put his makeshift family on a pedestal, and apparently, his brother is upset that he hasn’t been treated quite as well, and now they’re gonna fight about it for 2+ hours.

(Not fighting is Dwayne Johnson, who won’t appear in Fast 9, perhaps because he may or may not get along with Vin Diesel.)

Oh, and there’s stealth bombers and magnets and Ludacris and Tyrese may or may not go to space? Who knows, who cares, let’s do this!

Fast 9 hits theaters on June 25th. Here’s the trailer:

Couple Shares Moving Story of Baby They Adopted After Finding Him in the Subway

Couple adopts baby found in subway
(Instagram/petemercurionyc)

There’s a generally-understood meaning when people refer to one of their kids as a “surprise.” In most situations, your initial assumption would be absolutely correct. Danny Stewart and Pete Mercurio, however, are not your typical parents. And 20 years ago, their now adult son was certainly no typical surprise.

Danny Stewart boarded a New York subway on August 28, 2000, heading home to his partner as he’d done countless times before. While scanning the crowded subway, Danny noticed what he thought was a doll left behind by a distracted child. Upon closer inspection, Danny made a startling discovery – this was no baby doll laying haphazardly on the floor of the Chelsea subway, but an actual baby.

Fellow subway riders ignored the 34-year-old’s pleas to help find the baby’s parents, and it quickly became clear that his parents likely didn’t want to be found. The infant was wrapped only in a sweater, his umbilical cord still partially intact.

As Danny’s panic grew, he contacted the police but feared he sounded so frantic that they dismissed him as insane. Next, he contacted his partner.

“I found a baby,” he blurted out. “I don’t think the police believe me so call them please right now.”

Pete recalled the life-changing moment to BBC, stating that he immediately believed the seemingly unbelievable story. “Because Danny doesn’t joke, he wouldn’t say something if it wasn’t true.”

In record time, Pete made it to the subway before rushing Danny and the baby to a nearby hospital. When the police finally arrived to take their statements, the stunned couple left the baby in their care.

“I remember turning to Danny and saying to him on the sidewalk as the police car was driving away, ‘You know, you’re going to be connected to that baby in some way for the rest of your life,’” Pete said, not knowing at the time how true his statement was.

In December of that year, Danny was called to testify in court about the unforgettable day that happened four months prior. By some twist of fate, the city was experimenting with new protocols for abandoned children, a short-lived expedited adoption process that led the judge to ask Danny on the spot if he wanted to adopt the baby.

“Yes, but I don’t think it’s that easy,” he responded.

“Well, it can be,” the judge said.

Upon arriving home and excitedly revealing the news to his partner, Pete was furious. He hadn’t been consulted, and didn’t feel ready to become a dad. Even so, Pete agreed to go with Danny to meet the baby in his foster home.

“The baby squeezed my finger with his entire hand so hard,” Pete recalled. “He was just staring up at me and I was just looking at him, and it was almost like he found a pressure point in my finger that just opened up my heart to my head and showed me in that moment that I could be one of his parents, one of his dads.”

 

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A post shared by Pete Mercurio (@petemercurionyc)

The soon-to-be dads rushed home to create a proper nursery in their small New York apartment, preparing to bring their new son home just days before Christmas. They passed background checks, home inspections, and absorbed the information they learned in their parenting classes like sponges. A year later, the couple legally became Kevin’s dads.

 

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A post shared by Pete Mercurio (@petemercurionyc)

20 years later, Kevin is in college studying math and computer science. Pete wrote a book called “Our Subway Baby,” detailing the unusual story of how he and Danny became dads. And Danny? Well, he couldn’t be happier.

“I can’t imagine my life if it didn’t turn out this way,” Danny said. “My life has become much more enriched and full. It has changed my world view, my perspective, my whole lens.”

Dad Shares Advice on Helping Out With Breastfeeding in Viral Instagram Post

Instagram dad shares ways dads can help with breastfeeding
(Instagram/chroniclesofdaddy)

While most information on breastfeeding is geared towards women, the process of naturally feeding a baby truly can be a team effort. Breastfeeding is an incredible thing, but it can be thoroughly exhausting, and there’s no reason dads can’t be involved. As traditional parenting roles are pushed to the side, research and literature are focusing more and more on involving dads in tasks previously recognized as a “mom’s job.” But if parenting has taught us anything, it’s an all-hands-on-deck process – and finally, it’s being recognized as such.

Muhammed Nitoto, the man behind the chroniclesofdaddy Instagram page, shared some wisdom for Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Nitoto paired his viral post with a photo of himself next to his thoroughly exhausted wife, her eyes closed as she breastfeeds their young baby. A familiar scene for any parent, but as Nitoto explains, dads are far from helpless.

“I figured I’d drop some knowledge on my fellow Dads and soon to be Dads,” Nitoto begins. “Here’s what it looks like for the first few weeks or months after your child is born. Yup if mom breastfeeds they pretty much are tucked like this and at times you’ll wonder ‘what is there for me to do?’ Here’s my top 5 tips for any Dad after your child is born.”

Offer to help with night feedings

Nitoto starts off simple, reminding dads that even if they aren’t doing the nighttime feedings, they can offer to help. A glass of water, a back rub – “The truth is most of the time she will say no,” he explains, “but just the fact that you offered will go far.”

Claim a feeding, any feeding

Next, Nitoto suggests claiming one feeding as yours every day if mom is willing to pump. That way, there’s no discussion of who does that feeding. Mom can relax, and you can bond with your baby one-on-one.

Don’t rush the process

Though breastfeeding can be challenging and exhausting at times, it’s also an extremely valuable bonding experience. It may be tempting to try to wean your baby off of nursing ASAP for mom’s sake, but it’s not that simple.

“I know everyone has a diffrent length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad it’s hard to fully understand,” Nitoto explains. “Do not I repeat DO NOT try and rush this process it’s not our place and it’s not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can’t win.”

Be patient, Dad time is coming

This leads to Nitoto’s next point – it may seem like the early months are focused on mom and baby, but it won’t always feel that way. Becoming a dad is incredibly exciting, and you may feel a bit left out at times. But babies grow incredibly quickly, and before you know it, there will be more daddy time than you know what to do with.

If you can take paternity leave, do it

If you’re fortunate enough to have the option to take paternity leave, take full advantage. “You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life,” Nitoto says. “It doesn’t make you more of a man to not take the leave. It’s equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child.”

Father Figures: What Life Is About

“Eli had a rough day today. He’s 19 months old and teething like a maniac. This picture is what it looked like after his nap. I held him in this position for 12 minutes. No idea what he wanted but I knew he was happy in my arms.

I had back surgery 3.5 weeks ago so I can’t pick him up. Laying down would be preferable but this is what the little man wanted today. A comforting snuggle with Dad. It didn’t matter that I had work to do, or had some pain in my back. What mattered is that he felt safe in my arms.

My whole life I wanted to be the best dad I could be when my time came. I couldn’t wait for the day to come where I could hold my toddler’s hand and walk down the street, or into a restaurant (when that was feasible), or just down the hallway to the kitchen.

19 months ago, my life changed. No longer did I have the time, or the desire, to go golfing every weekend. Sure, I miss having the same amount of careless time out with my friends, as I’m sure many of us do. We may be getting older but we’re still young guys at heart, right?

I have laughed harder, smiled more, and cried more over the last 19 months than I had in my first 30 years on this planet. The little guy brings us so much joy, humor, and happiness. 5 out of 7 nights (at least) my wife goes to bed hearing me say ‘he’s just so amazing, and funny. I love him so much.’

She also hears me cry and doubt myself. I want to show him the highest example of what it is to be a person, a fellow human being on this earth. What if I do something wrong, or say something I may regret? What if he doesn’t see the lessons we try to teach so early on? It doesn’t matter. I’m here for him. As a father, as a male role model, as a friend.

By being there for him, I know he will not only succeed in life, but he will be one person others wish they could have been around. No matter what happens each day, I know that by the end of that day Eli and I (and everyone else in his life) will have had great laughs, lots of smiles, and more love than could be given.

This is what life is about. This is what our lives, as fathers, is about. Let’s all do what we can do be better for ourselves so we can be better for our little ones. Hold them and love them and cuddle them every chance you get. These times don’t come as much as we’d like, or need.”

– Brian Gaudet

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Mark Hamill Cheers up Children’s Hospital Patients With His Voices

Hamill Cheers Up Kids with Voice Talents
(YouTube/Children's Hospital Los Angeles)

Luke Skywalker was a hero, but the man who played him, Mark Hamill, is every bit a legend himself. The 69-year-old actor went above and beyond to cheer up some patients at a Children’s Hospital by reading to them virtually and delighted them by doing his Joker voice and impressions of Darth Vader and Yoda.

Hamill flexed his prodigious voice talents (the guy did do a killer cartoon Joker for years) by reading to patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as part of the Make March Matter campaign, where actors and organizations come together to support the hospital. He told People the kids knew more about Star Wars than he did.

“Virtually visiting young patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was a remarkable and touching experience. My favorite part was reading a special book with them, Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown,” Hamill said.

One patient asked a brilliant question, pondering what Hamill’s Joker would say to Luke Skywalker. Hamill responded PERFECTLY.

He said he was happy to do the Joker impression on a private Zoom with a patient, but that it’s awkward to do when people ask in public.

“You can’t do him quietly and it’s disturbing for those who assume I’m just some random kook.”

During the book readings, he also voiced Vader, a stormtrooper, and Yoda. Hamill does a lot of charity work, but you always gotta give it up when someone can bring Luke Skywalker and The Joker to life to help put a smile on the face of a sick child.

Turns Out You Can Teach an Old Pooch Cool Dog Tricks, Here’s Where to Start

cool dog tricks, dog with stick in mouth
(Jamie Street/Unsplash)

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.

Ryan Reynolds Is Back in the Trailer for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Ryan Reynolds Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
(YouTube/Lionsgate)

Ryan Reynolds has been in the news a bunch over the past year, for his hilarious social media hijinks, he and his wife’s repeated efforts to help during the pandemic, and for his work with his liquor brand, Aviation Gin.

Unfortunately, aside from his Netflix action movie 6 Underground, he hasn’t been on screens all that much.

Deadpool 3, which will be the MCU’s first (and only?) R-rated entry is still a ways off, and his involvement in the newly-launched ThunderCats project is nothing but a rumor at this point. Thankfully, though, he does have a new flick coming out soon, and today we finally get to see the trailer.

It’s called The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Reynolds stars as, well, the titular hitman’s wife’s bodyguard, and in the movie, he’s tasked with protecting Salma Hayek, who plays hitman Samuel L. Jackson’s wife, who is in danger from Antonio Banderas. The sequel to 2017’s action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard hits theaters on June 16th, and it looks like a lot of fun. At the very least it will be nice to see Reynolds again!

Check out the trailer: