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Dog Training 101: How To Train Your Dog To Do Tricks!

Ideas to inspire

by Allie Smith, Whipsmart Editorial | 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Art of the Pet is happy to announce we will be expanding our marketplace to include pet service providers which will allow you to find a variety of providers for your pets such as dog walkers, pet sitters, vets, groomers and dog trainers to name a few.  Allie Smith of Whipsmart Editorial has been invited to write our first service provider article on dog training tricks for fun!

Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month? Sponsored by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, this month is a time to highlight all the fun aspects of using positive training methods to build a healthy relationship with your dog. When you think of dog training, you might picture a structured environment where you take a group class at a local dog training school or facility. Classes are a great way to socialize your puppy, teach your dog basic obedience, or learn more advanced skills for dog sports such as agility or flyball. Bear in mind, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or leave your home to train your dog.

In this post we are going to focus on trick training you can do at home. Training your dog to do cute tricks like balancing a ball on her head, sitting pretty, or rolling over will bring smiles and is always fun at parties, but there are deeper benefits to trick training:

  1. Improve Your Relationship -- working one-on-one with your dog strengthens your bond and deepens the trust between you. 

  2. Fitness and Conditioning -- training tricks like “Sit Pretty” or “Puppy Push Ups” where your dog goes from a stand to a down without moving their feet both improve core strength and body control.

  3. Managing Stressful Situations -- tricks can be useful to build skills to help a dog manage situations that would normally cause them stress. Nose touches and targeting can focus your dog’s attention where you want it and away from the stressful event.

Dog training with treats makes your pup wanna jump!

Sounds fantastic, how do I get started? All you need is you, your dog(s), delicious treats, the internet, and a bit of creative thinking. 

You -- bring yourself with a positive attitude and you and your dog are 100% sure to have fun.

Your Dog(s) -- it is best to do your training sessions prior to feeding your dog, so he will be extra motivated by the treats. Make sure he has pottied and choose a space in your home that is quiet and free of distractions.

Healthy Treats -- the best treats for training are:

  • Small - anything from the size of a pea to a nickel will work well. You want your dog to be able to eat them quickly, so you don’t have to wait while she chews and chews.

  • High value -- to get your dog’s full attention and willingness to work, you gotta use EXTRA good treats. Try something your dog doesn’t get every day.

  • Low calorie -- you don’t want to worry about the amount of treats you give during a training session, so low calorie treats work best to avoid unintended weight gain.

  • Not crumbly in texture - crumbly treats make a mess of crumbs that your dog will focus on cleaning off the floor rather than on you.

  • Not too smelly -- while your dog might love the smelliest treats there are, you might not love the way your fingers or pants pocket smells for days.

The Internet -- a simple Google search for “Best way to train my dog to rollover” or “101 dog tricks” will bring you a wealth of videos and tutorials to get you on your way.

Creativity -- with a little out-of-the-box thinking, you can find all you need to do positive training in the items you already have at home.

  • Don’t have a clicker, use a retractable ballpoint pen and click the top

  • Need a target, use the lid from a yogurt container

  • Love Harry Potter, train your dog to respond to spells

After you train a few tricks, you might find that your dog has a real aptitude for it. Why not get some recognition for the work you both have put in? To formalize your trick training, the American Kennel Club (AKC) offers Trick Dog titles for beginner through advanced levels. AKC provides the lists of tricks and you do the training.

Remember, trick training isn’t just a January activity, you can train all throughout the year. Grab some treats, call your dog, and get started.

Feature photo collage credits- Left to Right: Sunny by Sue Dale; Psycho, Trilogy, Trilogy & Maverick by Colleen Morita