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Articles > Dogs

Teaching Advanced Level Tricks

Topic: New Challenges and Ideas for You and Your Dog

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Teaching advanced level dog tricks is not an exact science, rather it is a way of the owner looking at the dog's natural behaviors and being able to train the dog to use these behaviors on command. For example, if you have a dog that naturally wants to sit up and beg or even walk on their hind legs, start working with the dog to do this activity, resulting in an amazing "trick" that your dog will now do on command, but in fact was doing already just without the command.

Good dog trainers and those that are able to teach advanced level tricks make the tricks fit the dog, not necessarily the dog fit the tricks. They will also take into consideration the intelligence and trainability of the individual dog as well as the breed.Some breeds are wonderful dogs, excellent with kids, caring and loving, but are just not highly intelligent or very keen on learning. Don't be upset if you have a dog that doesn't seem to learn an advanced trick, consider working on another trick more in keeping with what you see the dog already doing.

Most complex tricks are a combination of smaller tricks all combined. Breaking the trick down into its simplest components and teaching it like a chain of tricks is important for some breeds. Some dogs seem to be better at problem solving type tricks whereas other as better at physical tricks, but both can be broken down and taught step by step if necessary. Some tricks that can be taught to different types of dogs include:

  • Counting - teaching your dog to count is not as difficult as it seems if you just stick with the basics. To teach your dog to count he or she must already know how to speak. This command can be taught by asking your dog to bark or catching them barking, saying speak, then providing the reward. Before long you will have a dog that can speak. Once they know the speak command, it is time to learn to count. Combine the speak command with a signal, such as shaking your finger once each time the dog barks. Reward this until the dog knows when you have him or her sit and then shake your finger they are to bark once for each finger shake. Then, place objects on the floor and ask your dog to count. Shake your finger at each object, which will trigger the dog to bark. In reality, the dog is not counting, they are simply responding to the movement of your finger, but your friends will never know!


  • Waving - this is an extension of "shake a paw" but it is very convincing. Start by having the dog sit as usual, then give the command "shake a paw bye" or "wave" or whatever you wish to use. Instead of holding your hand at the normal level, raise it up higher, which will cause the dog to lift the paw and make a pawing motion in the air. Reward the dog immediately but don't actually touch their paw. As the dog understands that "shake a paw wave" is different than shake a paw, you can shorten the command to wave. This can also be combined with the sit up command, this is extremely cute in smaller breeds that naturally sit up and have a good sense of balance.


  • Spin - this is great for high energy dogs, especially the terriers. Have the dog stand in front of you and hold a treat in your hand, making a circle just above the dog's head. The dog will naturally follow the treat, as soon as he or she moves say "Spin". Once one rotation is made immediately give the treat. You can gradually increase the speed of the spin and even have the dog just follow your finger in a spin once they understand the command. Some dogs will only spin one way, but if they will turn both directions you can easily each left spin and right spin just by using the two terms after the basic spin command has been given and using prompts of either a treat or your finger to teach the dog the two directions. This will really amaze most people and is fun for the dog as well.


  • Bowing - this is a great trick that can go along with waving and sitting up, plus can end a series of tricks. Start with your dog standing beside you. Get down to the dogs level and place a treat in your hand between his or her front legs. Usually the dog will drop his or her head and front quarters to reach for the treat, say "Bow" as soon as the shoulders start to drop. If the dog drops his head but not his front quarters, slide the treat in your hand back towards the hind legs, causing the dog to need to lower his or her front end. Use the "bow" command and give the treat as the dog goes lower each time. For dogs that try to lie down, hold your other hand on their stomach so they can't lower their complete body.


  • Dogs can be taught a variety of tricks including answering the phone, ringing a bell when their water dish is empty, or even teach your dog to jump rope. The most amazing tricks that dog's do are ones that are unique but still in keeping with the dog's personality and natural abilities. Dogs can be taught to fetch certain items you name simply by working with the dog on a regular basis using lots of patience and positive reinforcement. Treats, praise, toys and playtime can all be used to reward your dog for a job well done. Keep in mind that it will take time to teach a new trick and dogs that are constantly mentally exercised and challenged will have a faster and better ability to learn new tricks than dogs that are rarely or infrequently worked with.

    Other articles under "New Challenges and Ideas for You and Your Dog"

    4/29/2008
    Article 3 - "Training A Dog With Hand Signals"
    5/1/2008
    Article 5 - "Taking Your Dog Camping"
    5/3/2008
    Article 7 - "Teaching Advanced Level Tricks"


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