Teaching your dog tricks is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated and it can help to enhance their behaviour. If you’ve got a young pup, chances are you’d settle for them being housetrained, but it won’t be long before you can move on to more exciting training tasks!
In fact, the younger you start training your dog, the quicker they can pick things up. However, don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! When you invest a little time in training, you can teach your pooch how to do some remarkable things. For inspiration, take a look at these three fun tricks to teach your dog once they’ve mastered the basics:
1. Teach Your Dog to Speak
Okay, barking on command might not actually equate to speaking, but it’s an impressive trick nonetheless! If your dog has issues with excessive barking, this is also a useful trick, as the ‘speak’ command goes hand in hand with the ‘quiet’ command, so your dog will get used to controlling their voice.
To begin with, say ‘speak’ every time your dog barks, so that they associated the command with making noise. Reward your pooch with praise, a toy, treat or click, depending on what method of training you’re using and keep going until they ‘speak’ on command.
2. Teach Your Dog to ‘Bring’
If your dog has already learned ‘take it’ and ‘leave it’, they’re ready to move on to ‘bring’. Here, you’re telling your dog to pick something up and bring it to you, so be sure they’ve got ‘take it’ and ‘leave it’ down before you move on.
Instruct your dog to pick something up with the ‘take it’ command, then encourage them to come towards you using the word ‘bring’. Reward them when they do. Then, instruct them to ‘leave it’, so that they drop the item in your lap or on the floor. Before long, they’ll be able to do the whole sequence when you tell them to bring you a particular item.
3. Teach Your Dog to Open and Close Doors
Before you teach your dog this trick, think carefully about whether you want them to have the power to open and close doors around your home! If you’re prepared for this, you’ll need to teach your dog the ‘tug’ command first, then tie a piece of cloth to the doors you want them to be able to open. Instruct them to ‘tug’ the cloth, so that the door opens and then reward them.
Once your dog can open doors with ease, you can reverse the process and teach them how to close the door just as easily. However, you will need to ensure that the doors are relatively easy to open and don’t require your dog to push or turn the door handle.
How to Improve Your Dog’s Concentration
If your dog isn’t quite mastering the tricks you’re trying to teach them, take a look at these top tips to improve their concentration:
1. Exercise Them First
If your dog has pent-up energy, it might find it hard to concentrate. Before you start working on a trick, make sure your dog has had plenty of exercise and isn’t too over-excited. Training tends to work best when your dog is calmer.
2. Feed Them High-Quality Food
Dog food with additives can make some dogs over-excited, which can make training harder. If you suspect this might be the issue, try something different, like a raw food diet. With pre-prepared raw dog food from Bella & Duke, transitioning to a healthier and more natural diet is easy and, when your dog is getting all the nutrients they need, it can have a marked impact on their concentration levels. Check the guides on the Bella & Duke website for more info on a raw food diet for puppies and adult dogs.
3. Let Your Dog Rest
Like humans, a dog needs time to relax, so don’t expect your pooch to be on the go all the time. Long training sessions should usually be avoided, as your dog will become bored or ‘switch off’. Instead, aim to practice for 10-15 minutes – or less, if your dog’s interest begins to wane.
4. Focus on One Trick at a Time
With so many fun tricks to teach your dog, it’s easy to try and do too much at once. However, slowing things down and teaching your dog just one trick at a time can enhance your success. Make sure they can perform one trick reliably and with ease before you move on to the next.
When to Start Training Your Dog
If you can, start training your dog from a young age. If you’re focusing on housebreaking your puppy, remember that they’ve got a lot to learn, so don’t make tricks a top priority. However, teaching them the basics, like sit, come, and shake a paw, is a great way to prepare young pups for more exciting tricks in the future.