Your dog needs regular exercise, both mental and physical. With regular mental exercise, your dog will be much less bored and less likely to get into trouble. Practicing tricks with your dog will noticeably improve their behavior and can impact your dog's behavior with other people and other dogs. That doesn’t mean we can or want to replace our daily walk, it just means your dog will appreciate some mental stimulation as well. Mental exercise is especially satisfying in the heat of summer when it’s less enjoyable to be outdoors and when it’s difficult for both you and your pet to endure a long walk. Considering that a mentally active day improves behavior and leads to calmness at home when it comes to our pets, we’ve laid out 3 easy tricks for you to practice with your dog at home or during a walk.
1. Roll Over
Put your dog in a "down" position. Then, put a treat in your hand and move your hand behind your dog's neck. Make sure your movement is slow and controlled. Your goal is to get the dog to turn its head back without needing to stand.
Your dog will reach his head back in an attempt to sniff the treat, and when he does gently roll the treat in your hand over. As soon as your dog rolls over, give it the treat and praise your dog with enthusiasm. Repeat and as you start to roll it over, add a command, such as "roll". When the dog rolls completely over, give the treat, and again give verbal reward and praise. Do this for five or 10 minutes.
Try it again later for another five or 10-minutes, always keeping the sessions brief to reduce frustration on both sides. Eventually, your pet should learn that the command and the rolling process are directly connected. You no longer need to have a treat each time after your dog rolls over when asked. Don’t forget to always praise your dog when it listens to your command and performs the trick correctly, and don't get frustrated if it doesn't learn right away. Stop the session if you can't stay calm and relaxed.
2. Shake Hands
Teaching a dog to shake hands is generally pretty easy, especially if your dog naturally raises their paw to ask for a treat which many do. Start by putting your dog in a "sit" position. Then, with a treat in your hand, slowly move it toward the ground near the dog's paw.
As the dog raises its paw in anticipation, use the verbal cue "shake," and give it the treat, then praise your dog with enthusiasm. As you continue to practice, hold your hand gradually higher so your dog has to raise its paw higher to get the treat. Your goal is to have the dog raise its paw to chest height.
Keep practicing. Always use the same paw for training. Eventually, once your dog holds its paw up on command, you can switch to the other paw. The key is to use a different command such as "other" so the dog learns that one command works for its right paw and the other for its left. Once your dog is shaking hands on command, you can start to eliminate the treats and offer happy praise instead.
3. High Five
After your dog masters the "shake" command, it's relatively simple to teach it to do a "high five." Start by working on the "shake" command. Start by holding your palm out and as the dog hits your palm, give the command "high five." Treat and praise your dog immediately and enthusiastically. Your goal here is to get the dog to raise its paw as high as possible and to touch your open palm.