I wanted to come up with a couple of easy tricks dog owners could teach their dogs of any age. The tricks are “speak,” “play dead” and “roll over.” These aren’t necessarily the only ways to teach these commands, but hopefully they can help you brainstorm.
And let us know if your dog can do any fun tricks!
I taught my dog Ace to speak, and it was really easy! Here are the steps I followed:
Step 1: Think of a scenario where you know your dog is likely to bark and either wait for that to happen or set it up. For example, my dog will naturally bark when he’s really excited and wants a toy, so that’s what I used to teach “speak.” You may want to be careful about which scenarios you use, however. Encouraging your dog to bark at the door or at other dogs may not be ideal, obviously.
Step 2: When your dog barks, or when he’s about to bark, say “speak!” and then reward him instantly.
Step 3: Repeat a couple of times. Your dog is likely to catch on quickly. Some dogs tend to get really excited over “speak” so keep the session short and practice again later. Now, you may want to teach him “quiet” which will have to be another post!
Dr. Isabel Towers, a trainer with Bounce ‘n’ Pounce offers these tips for teaching your dog the classic trick “play dead.”
Step 1: Direct the dog into a “down” position by luring her with a treat.
Step 2: While the dog is lying down, put a treat in front of her nose and slowly move it back across her shoulder. As her nose follows the treat, her body will roll onto her side. Reward this posture.
Step 3: As the dog lies on her side with her head up, place the treat before her nose and slowly lower it to the floor. Her head will move down on the floor. After a couple of seconds, reward this.
Towers said she gradually phases out each step until she can put her hand flat on the floor and the dog will move onto her side.
“At that point I put a verbal cue – ‘play dead’ or ‘flat’ – which I say just before using my hand signal,” she said. “It’s basically another ‘stay’ position, and the dog can be taught to stay in this position progressively longer.”
If you want to use the “bang!” command, Towers said to just point a finger for your cue the moment before you do the original hand signal, and the dog will learn it.
Sylvia Wilson is the founder of the dog training company Bark Busters, and she offered these tips for teaching a dog to roll over:
Step 1: Have your dog in a “down” position while you crouch beside him with a toy or a treat. Hold the object in front of your dog’s nose. When the dog is focused, move the item in a rotating fashion in front of his nose, repeating “roll over.”
Step 2: Gently roll your dog’s body over as he follows the rotation of the treat or toy, praising your dog as encouragement.
Step 3: Once your dog completes the roll, let him have the item as a reward, then repeat the exercise several times. Most dogs learn this trick quite quickly and your hand will eventually replace the item. Always praise your dog!
Quick note: When I taught my dog Ace to roll over, I learned he is only comfortable rolling in one direction (to his left). Make sure to allow your dog to roll in the direction that seems most natural to make the training way easier!