Teaching a dog some new tricks can be lots of fun, but it isn’t as easy as you might think. There are many things to consider when teaching a dog new tricks, and many responsibilities to take into consideration while you train them and interact.
First, make sure you have enough space wherever you are to teach them safely. It sounds simple, but too many people forget this in their haste to teach a trick – it’s critical that your dog have enough room to move around in an area large enough where they can be safe and learn adequately!
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s critical that you create a name for the trick you’d like your dog to learn. A basic trick, something like “sit,” needs a name so that over time, your dog can recognize it and react to it accordingly.
With most tricks, it’s important to physically show the dog how to perform the trick by safely and easily moving them accordingly. If you want your dog to shake, you can lightly take their paw and show them what “shake” looks like as you say the word, getting them to equate the two. Repeat the action several times; knowing it may take your dog quite a few times to learn what to do and what you expect from them.
After several attempts at this, start to incorporate snacks and treats into your dog’s trick teaching. Say the name as you’ve been saying it, with a single treat in your hand, to incentivize the tricks and make them quickly learn. The key here is to say the name of the trick in an eager, happy voice that encourages the dog to do the trick and understand that it is meant to be fun.
Dogs respond much better to positivity than they do negative reinforcement, and because of that, they are more likely to do tricks when they are positively ordered of them. As such, it is important to make the learning of a new trick a positive experience for everyone involved, making it critical for you to have a good attitude while you work with your dog to learn the new trick.
It may take some time for your dog to learn the new trick or tricks, but before you know it, they will have mastered something new and great and they will have bonded more strongly with you for it. When you remain positive, this experience of learning a new trick will be a positive experience for both you and your dog, and will be something you can look forward to doing in the future with even more new tricks and fun.