Seeing how your dog reacts to learning different types of tricks can be one of the most rewarding experiences of owning a dog. Not all dogs learn at the same pace though, so you’ll need to be patient and persistent when you conduct your training. Make sure your dog is old enough to start training and knows their name.
In the 27 videos below, we have Jan training Bonnie, her collie. Collies are notoriously smart dogs, and can learn tricks rather quickly. Kelly’s mastiffs both learn tricks at a much slower rate, and need constant reinforcement. Jan has many years of training, but keep in mind neither her nor Kelly are professional dog trainers and do not claim to be.
Regardless of what type of dog you have, here’s some of our favorite tricks you can teach them. We’d recommend focusing on one trick at at time until your dog masters that trick before moving on to the next one.
- 1 Shake Hands
- 2 Cross Your Paws
- 3 Double Cross Paws
- 4 Fetch
- 5 Yawn
- 6 Which One
- 7 Come
- 8 Dig (Find the Treasure)
- 9 Ring a Bell
- 10 Pick Up a Cane
- 11 Turn Around
- 12 Play the Piano
- 13 Wave
- 14 Carry a Bucket
- 15 High Five
- 16 Speak & Quiet
- 17 Retrieve a Tissue
- 18 Jump Through Hula Hoop
- 19 Crawl
- 20 Beg
- 21 Take a Bow
- 22 Go Back
- 23 Twirl
- 24 Go to Bed
- 25 Touch
- 26 Circle
- 27 Play Basketball
Start by having your dog sit. Say, “Shake hands,” and take his paw with your hand. Hold his paw and say, “Good dog!” Let go of his paw. Do this a few times every day.
After a while, say, “Shake hands,” but don’t take his paw. See if he raises his paw by himself. If not, keep showing him what to do by saying, “Shake hands,” and taking his paw with your hand. Your dog is not slow; he is just learning!
Shake is one of the easiest tricks to learn, so it’s a good one to teach dogs that are fast learners and dogs that are also stubborn, like the Rottweiler.
Cross Your Paws
I love to teach tricks because it’s fun, stimulating for dogs, and helps them learn what learning is all about. Showing off a new trick is good entertainment for family and friends, and is a way for people to find a connection with your dog. Instead of greeting a guest at the door by jumping up, isn’t it better to have a dog sit and give a high five?
There are some breeds that are more popular with families and these breeds are generally some of the breeds that are faster to learn obedience and basic tricks.
There are the standard tricks that I have always taught, but once in a while I like to try a new one. ‘Cross Your Paws’ is a trick that took me a little while to teach Bonnie. Before beginning, I broke it into several steps. As Bonnie became successful with each step, I moved on to the next one.
This is a really fun trick. I’m having a good time with it. When Bonnie is bored and looking for around for something to do, all I have to do it let her go through her list of tricks. She gets a treat or two, lots of praise, and big hugs.
Double Cross Paws
Here are the standard dog tricks that I have always taught, but occasionally I like to try a new one. ‘Cross Your Paws’ is a trick that took me a while to teach Bonnie. After she learned it really well, I decided to take it a little further and expand the trick to the Double-Cross.
Before you start, make sure your dog has learned the first Cross Your Paw trick (link is below.) Then teach her to do the Double-Cross exactly the same way you taught the Cross Paw trick, this time using the other paw. Your dog will probably understand this trick much easier this time around. Good luck
If your dog doesn’t fetch naturally, have an adult cut a slit in a tennis ball (a smaller, rubber ball if that is too big). Put some treats inside the tennis ball. Show your dog that there are treats in there, and give her one. Then, throw the ball. In the beginning, run with her and get the ball; then give her the treat. Soon you will be able to throw the ball and she will go get it (because she wants the treat!).
After your dog has figured out what he has to do to get a treat, start throwing the ball two times in a row without giving him the treat. What you are trying to do is give him the treats less and less often so someday he won’t need the treats in the ball to fetch it.
Every time you see your dog yawn, say the command you want to use like “Give us a yawn.”, or “Are you sleepy?”. If he yawns enough and hears those words enough, he will eventually yawn whenever he hears those words.
Here’s one of those tricks that your dog has to perform before he actually learns it. Hopefully, you have a dog that yawns a lot. Be patient. This one can take a long time. Be sure to really praise your pup when he yawns – he’ll thinks he’s doing something totally wonderful. And eventually he will be!
Put a treat in one hand, show your dog, and then close both of your hands, making two fists. Hold your fists in front of you, about six inches apart and say “Which one?” Your dog will try to pry at your fists with his mouth to find the treat, but don’t open your hands. Wait until he tries to use his paw (he will if you wait long enough), let him touch the correct hand and then give him the treat.
If you have tried this several times, but your dog still won’t use his paws to touch your hand, let him use his mouth to point out the correct hand. It’ll be just as good and your audience will love the trick just as much.
Have your dog sit in front of you. Using a dog whistle from your local pet store, blow it once and give your dog a treat. Do this several times and repeat several times during the day. Repeat this over several days, trying it a increased distances. Your dog should soon be running to you every time he hears the whistle.
Use a small, but tasty treat, one that your dog really loves. After your dog will come to you from different areas in the house, move outside, to fenced areas only. When you notice your dog is a little distracted, give the whistle a blow and see if he comes. By now, he should be coming. If not, go back to shorter distances without distractions and take the steps a bit slower.
Teaching a proper recall command is one of the first things you should teach your dog to ensure that they don’t engage in stubborn & harmful behavior. If you have a stubborn dog like a Caucasian Shepherd or an English Bulldog, it might take more patience than normal.
Dig (Find the Treasure)
‘Find the treasure’ means the dog will use one or two front paws to dig at the ground. Here’s one way to teach it on command. Gather some treats and put them under a towel while your dog is watching closely. Don’t let your dog use his nose to get under the towel.
Keep encouraging him verbally and showing him that there are treats under the towel, and eventually, he’ll start pawing at the towel. As soon as he moves that paw just a little, say, “Find the treasure!” Reward your dog immediately with a treat from your hand or even from under the towel.
For dogs that are not natural diggers, this may take a while. Remember that you’re looking for that digging behavior. You can give him treats from under the towel or from your hand as encouragement. If he happens to uncover a treat by himself, then praise!
Caution! If you have a dog that digs in the garden and causes trouble because of his digging, you might not want to encourage this behavior.
Ring a Bell
I have to admit that Bonnie was a breeze to housebreak. From the day we got her at fourteen weeks of age, she knew where the back door was and gave a gentle scratch on the screen when she needed to go out. Collies are usually very easy to housebreak and this was certainly the best experience ever!
However, as she grew, her feet became bigger and stronger and she began to tear a hole in our screen door. If we closed the glass door so she couldn’t reach the screen, she would slap the glass with her paw. If that didn’t work for her, she would scrape her teeth on the glass. Really! The sound was too horrible to bear. I had to come up with a good way for Bonnie to let us know when she needed to go outside without hurting our ears.
I decided to teach Bonnie to ring a bell when she wanted to relieve herself or go outside. First, I taught her the Touch trick. Second, I hung a bell in front of my hand and had her touch it.
Last I moved the bell to the door and had her touch the bell without my hand in front of it.
The video should make it fairly easy to follow. But be sure to teach your dog the Touch trick first. It should make the trick a lot easier. Have fun!
Pick Up a Cane
Bonnie learned to pick up a bucket last fall. It was Halloween time and kids were carrying around those black and orange buckets asking for goodies from friendly neighbors. I thought it would be cute if I taught her to grab the bucket by the handle and bring it to me, as if she were trick-or-treating. It was a fun trick and Bonnie learned it over the course of a couple weeks.
Once she learned that, she began to pick up other things and bring them to me. It didn’t take long for her to bring me toys and towels. I’ll post a video of her bringing me towels soon. For today I have a different video.
As you know, I have a broken left foot. I’m wearing a big black cast and I’m using a cane to help me walk around. The other day, I was sitting in a chair and my cane fell to the floor. Bonnie must have thought I was playing the pickup game again because she walked over to it, picked up the cane, and handed to me. I was astonished! What a smart dog.
Now Bonnie brings me the cane whenever I drop it or if it’s where I can’t get it. I never thought tricks could come in so handy. What a great thing for Bonnie to help me with my injury.
Start by having your dog stand up facing you. Let your dog see a treat in your hand. Stand still and say, “Turn around”. Lead the dog’s nose around to the left (clockwise) with the treat so he walks in a circle. When he comes back to where he’s facing you again, say, “Good dog!” and give him the treat.
After some practice, hold the treat in front of you so your dog can see it and say, “Turn around,” but don’t lead his nose. See if he is ready to turn around by himself and get the treat. Pretty soon, he will turn around faster than you can say ‘Lassie!”
If you choose to use the words, “Turn Left”, use them all the time. Don’t use “Turn around” sometimes, and “Turn Left” other times. Be consistent.
Play the Piano
If your dog prefers to play the piano with her nose, that’s ok, just reward her for doing it. If you prefer that she play with her paws, reward her for that. Just be as consistent as you can so that your dog doesn’t get confused.
I bought the paino at ToysRUs. Many dogowners also use toy keyboards for their dogs. Good luck and have fun! Since this trick is more complex, it’s best reserved for dogs that are quick learners, like the German Shepherd Dog.
Your dog should know how to shake hands before learning this trick. Face your dog and hold out your hand as if you are going to shake. When your dog lifts her paw to shake, don’t grab it, just pull back your hand, and say “Wave”. Then give your dog a treat.
At first your dog may not lift her paw very high. But once she realizes that you’re going to give her a treat if she holds it up there, she’ll get it. You may have to tease her a little with your hand so she thinks you are going to shake with her. Waving your hand a little may help to get her paw into a waving motion as well.
Carry a Bucket
For a while now, Bonnie and I have been working on a new trick. She has a natural ability to fetch and so I’ve been encouraging her to chase balls, pick them up, and bring them to me. I decided I wanted her to learn to pick up other things around the house as well.
Several months ago I began teaching Bonnie to carry a bucket. We worked on it a little at a time, a few times a week. At first, she wasn’t even interested in touching the plastic handle so I started by putting peanut butter on it. Once Bonnie became comfortable with putting her mouth on the handle, the trick became easier. Watch the video to see how Bonnie learned to pick up and carry the bucket. It’s a trick she really likes and it has led to other tricks that we’ll show you at another time. Happy training!
I have always enjoyed teaching my dogs to do tricks. It’s something I can do for short time whenever I have a few minutes with nothing to do. Since Bonnie is a new dog for me, I am inspired to learn and teach her tricks that I’ve never taught before.
‘High Five’ is a trick I’ve never taught, but I’ve seen dogs do it and I’ve read instructions on how to do it. It always seemed like it would be fairly easy to do, but I had never tried it. So now it was time to try it with Bonnie.
She learned the trick quickly. I had taught her to shake hands when she was three months old, so she is used to giving us her paw. I decided to have her use the other paw for the ‘High Five’.
I’ve made a short video of Bonnie learning the ‘High Five’. Can your dog do a ‘High Five’?
Speak & Quiet
Choose a game that your dog loves to play, like catch with a ball, or hide and seek with a toy. Then get him excited by saying, “Let’s play! Want to play?” and show him the ball or toy. Jump and act silly so he barks and then say, “Good dog, speak!” Then play the game as his reward for learning “Speak”.
You can’t make a dog bark, but you can get him happy and excited so he wants to bark. After a while, your dog will bark when you say, “Speak.”
Caution! If you have a dog that already causes trouble because of his barking, you might not want to encourage this behavior. If you decide it’s ok to teach it, be sure to teach “Quiet”, too.
Teaching “Quiet”: This is easiest if your dog already knows how to speak. It’s probably better for older dogs, and less so for younger puppies.
Tell your dog to Speak or catch him when he is barking. Get right in front of him and say “Quiet”. The second he stops, even if it is to take a breath, give him a treat. You might want to hold your hand or palm in front of his face to add a visual signal. Practice playing ‘quiet’ often and your dog will be loving the word “Quiet”.
As you teach your dog Quiet, gradually increase the quiet time from 2 seconds to 5 seconds or more. Then, when he understands the trick, make a game of it. Tell him to “Speak”, “Speak”, “Speak”, and then “Quiet”. Then “Speak” again. It’s a great trick that will entertain your friends and your pup will look so smart!
Retrieve a Tissue
As most of you know, I’m very big on tricks. I think they are one of the best ways to teach a dog to learn and have fun at the same time. Even young puppies can learn tricks.
Last month I learned new things about teaching tricks at a two-day dog training seminar. In fact, the whole weekend was about tricks. It was so much fun to see all kinds of dogs learning and performing at the same time.
Once a dog has learned how to retrieve, he or she is capable of learning all kinds of fetching tricks. When Bonnie was young we played fetch with a ball. Later she played fetch with toys. We played it a lot and before long, it became a very special game to Bonnie.
Next, I taught her to pick up a bucket by holding the handle in her mouth. It was the first thing that tasted different than a ball or a toy. From there, I was able to teach Bonnie to carry it the bucket. Later she picked up towels and brought them to me. I always rewarded Bonnie when she brought things to me. Now she brings me the remote control, the telephone, and my slippers. To Bonnie, this is a fantastic game. To me, it’s fun and useful. I can tell her to help me by bringing me things.
So next, I taught Bonnie to retrieve a tissue. A tissue tastes very different than anything else she has put in her mouth. But because I had rewarded Bonnie for giving me the items instead of spitting them out or chewing on them, she quickly learned to grab the tissue and gave it to me. The trick was easy because of all the other things Bonnie had learned to retrieve. Now I can ask Bonnie to give my house guest a tissue. It’s a great trick and it makes people laugh. And if they sneeze, she can help them with that, too!
Jump Through Hula Hoop
If your dog is concerned about going through the hoop, hold a treat and lure him through. Keep the hoop on the ground until he is very confident going through. Then you can begin to raise it. Don’t rush results. Patience will pay off.
Teaching the jump through the hoop technique can be good to ensure your dog doesn’t start jumping in other ways.
One of my favorite tricks has always been the ‘crawl.’ Bonnie learned the crawl over a period of weeks and now has a really smooth and comfortable trick to share with friends.
I started out by having Bonnie lie down while I was on the ground next to her. Then, holding a treat in front of her nose, I moved the treat away from her so that she would follow it while staying on the ground. Most dogs try to get up to retrieve the treat and Bonnie did as well. When she lifted her rear end, I gently tapped it and showed her to put it back down on the ground. Out of desire for the treat, she scooted just slightly forward. As soon as she did, I praised her wildly and gave her the treat. She had just crawled a tiny bit. We practiced this over and over, for two or three minutes a couple of times each day.
The hardest part of teaching a dog to crawl is the transition you have to make from sitting on the ground to standing next to your dog. Here’s how I did it. I found a yardstick. Then I taped a small plastic cup to the very bottom of the stick. I put several pieces of tasty treats in the cup.
Then, while standing, I held the yardstick in front of Bonnie’s nose and coaxed her to crawl. Once she was used to crawling with my standing up she became comfortable crawling in any situation. Check out Bonnie’s video. I think you’ll see that with this method, crawling is a trick that you can teach your dog without too much trouble.
This is another great trick for dogs that are fast learners, like the Poodle Bernese Mountain Dog Mix.
Have your dog sit, facing you. Hold his favorite treat just above his head and tell him, “Say please.” Your dog will probably lift his front feet off the ground to reach the treat. As soon as the feet are lifted, even a little bit, give him the treat.
This is a hard trick for most dogs. Wait a little longer each time before giving the treat, but be careful not to let your dog fall over on his back. You are helping your dog develop his balance. Be kind and only do this a couple of times.
Take a Bow
Method 1: When you see your dog take a big stretch, with his head down low, say, “Take a bow.” Every time he wakes up and stretches, say, “Take a bow.” Someday you will say, “Take a bow.” and your dog will take a big stretch, but it will look like he is bowing. As soon as he is finished, give him the treat.
Method 2: With your dog in a stand position, take a treat and hold it near the floor, under his nose. As your dog reaches down to get it (he may try to lie down), slip your hand under his belly to hold his rear end up. Hold him in that position and say, “Take a bow.” Keep the treat right by his nose, but don’t feed him. Stay there for just a second, release him, and then feed the treat.
TIP (Method 1): Tricks like this work because you put words with something your dog does. It may take some dogs longer than others to figure this one out. Some dogs learn it in a week and some take years…yes, years! But one day you will say, “Take a bow,” and maybe, just maybe, your dog will take a bow.
TIP (Method 2): If you feed your dog the treat while he is in the bowing position, in the future he won’t bow until he sees the treat in your hand. If he learns that the treat comes later, he’ll be willing to perform for you without it right there all the time.
This is an easy one! Stand facing your dog and as you walk toward him, say “Go Back”. He will want to get out of the way and will automatically walk backwards!
If your dog doesn’t walk back in a straight line, practice up against a wall or in a narrow hallway. After your dog is walking backward with you, try walking toward him only a step or two. Eventually, you will be able to stand still and say “Go Back”.
Don’t teach two tricks together that are similar. Teaching ‘Turn Around’ and ‘Twirl’ at the same time will confuse your dog.
If the command ‘Twirl’ doesn’t sound natural to you, use what a lot of people choose: ‘Go Right’. The choice of commands is totally up to you. When you teach ‘Turn Around’ as a separate trick, you can say ‘Go Left’ if that works for you.
“Twirl” is the same trick as “Turn Around” (see above), but this time your dog turns to the right (counterclockwise), instead of to the left.
Start by having your dog stand up facing you. Stand still and say, “Twirl”. Lead the dog’s nose around to the right with the treat so he walks in a circle. When he comes back to where he’s facing you again, say, “Good dog!” and give him the treat.
If you choose to use the words, “Turn Right”, use them all the time. Don’t use “Twirl” sometimes, and “Turn Right” other times. Be consistent.
After your dog has learned “Turn Around” (or Turn Left) and “Twirl” (or Turn Right), you can put them together and have your dog look really smart. First have your dog “Turn Around” (turn to the left), and then say “Twirl” (turn to the right). Be careful, though, don’t get your dog dizzy!
Be sure to teach Turn Around and Twirl separately. Wait until your dog has learned the first one very well.
Go to Bed
“Go to bed” means go to the bed AND lie down. You should only need to say “Go to bed”. Put a bed, blanket, or towel 6-10 feet away from you. With your dog beside you say “Go to bed!” and then together go to the bed. Have your dog lie down on the bed, give her a treat, and praise. This can also be done during crate training if you’ve picked the right crate for your puppy.
Repeat many times. Later on, try sending your dog by herself. At first, make sure that someone is waiting at the bed with a treat. Later, your dog will do it herself, and you will walk over to her while she is lying down and reward her.
It will take many repetitions, but she’ll start to figure out that going AND lying down on the bed will get her a reward. It’s important that your dog knows how to lie down. At first you might have to say Lie Down real softly to get your dog to go down, but try not to use it very much. What you want to say is “Go to Bed”. Remember, “Go to bed” means go to the bed AND lie down.
Here’s a trick that might seem a little weird, but I taught it to Bonnie anyway. The trick is called Touch. This means that Bonnie will touch her nose to something when I ask her to touch it.
First, I rubbed a dog treat on the palm of my hand so that Bonnie could smell it. I started out by holding my hand in front of Bonnie. As soon as she touched her nose to my hand, I clicked and gave her a treat. If you don’t use a clicker, it’s just as good to say, “Yes” and then reward her, too.
That’s all there is to it. Just touch my hand and reward. Easy, isn’t it? But why would we teach a dog to Touch? The reason I taught it to Bonnie is because I want her to ring a bell using her nose. If she can touch my hand with her nose, then later she can touch a bell with her nose.
With your dog facing you, take a treat and lead your dog’s nose to the right and around your body. Let him follow the treat all the way around behind your back and around to the front. Give your dog the treat and praise him. He will be making a complete circle around you.
In the beginning you might have to give your dog several treats while he is going around behind you and when he returns to the front. Practice it several times a day, but only for five minutes or so, two or three times a day.
This trick may take a lot of patience. Do you have what it takes to teach it? Follow the steps in the video and remember to make all of your training fun. Take a break and play if you’re not having fun.
Always end on a good note. Good luck!