Introduction: How to Teach Your Dog Some Important Tricks (And Some Not So Important Ones)

Picture of How to Teach Your Dog Some Important Tricks (And Some Not So Important Ones)

Everybody loves their pets. Whether you have a dog, cat, guinea pig, snake, whatever, you love that animal. Something that's important for all animals to be able to do is answer a command (or do tricks). These commands/tricks can save your dogs life (Sit! Do not run in front of that car!) or just be something funny that your dog does for attention (Dance!). Since it's Pets Month here at Instructables I thought I'd make an Instructable showing how I taught my dog to do 2 important commands, and two not so important ones.

Yay! Frontpage 3/11/08!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:

A Dog
Some type of dog treat (and a lot of it)
A crapload of patience
Maybe some tape for trick number 4

Step 2: Sit!

Picture of Sit!

Sit is one of the most important commands you can teach your dog because it is the bridge to so many more commands. It is much easier to teach your dog to lay down if it knows how to sit. It's important to remember to do this when your dog is calm, and to stop when she stops being calm. She's not learning anything if she's freaking out, that just means she's confused.


1. Grab your treat bag and take your dog where there aren't going to be distractions for her.

2. Once your dog is standing still, grab one of the treats.

3. Now that your dog is looking at the treat, move it up and slightly behind her head so that she will have to sit down to look at it.

4. If she doesn't sit down when you do this push down on her lower back while you're doing step 3. This should make her sit down.

5. As soon as her rump hits the floor, say Sit in a strong voice. Only say it once or it will confuse the dog.

6. Repeat this until A. Your dog is overloaded on treats, B. Your dog is freaking out and confused, or C. Your dog can sit.

Remember, this takes time. Don't expect your dog to get it in one session! Even if she does you should do the exercise again the next day, or even sooner, because odds are that she already forgot it.

Step 3: Down!

Picture of Down!

Sorry, we aren't to the ridiculous tricks yet. This one is still important!
Now that your dog sits on command it is time to get her to lay down on command. This is important for when you have people over to your house and you want your dog to stay near you and not bother them. This one is easier than Sit.

1. Once again, grab the treat bag!

2. Get your dog to sit down. Always have your dog sit before you have her lay down.

3. Grab a treat and get your dog to look at it.

4. Once she's eyeing the treat put it down in front of her so she has to lay down to get it.

5. If your dog crawls or gets up for it, repeat step 4 but knock out one or both of her front legs (gently of course) so that she has to lay down.

6. Now say Down in a firm voice, only once.

7. Repeat until... well the same stuff as last command.

Step 4: Up!

Picture of Up!

Now for the ridiculous tricks. If your dog can sit, she can go up. You may know this trick as Beg. Most small dogs do this easily, even naturally, but it's especially funny when you get a larger dog to do it.

Get that treat bag and...

1. Tell your dog to sit.

2. Now that she's sitting grab a treat and hold it high above her head.

3. She'll go up on her hind legs for it.

4. Once she's up, say Up or Beg in a strong voice, only once.

5. Repeat until she's got it.

Like I said, this is an easy one.

Step 5: Close the Door!

Picture of Close the Door!

NOTE: This trick may not be good if your dog is heavy enough to break through a glass door, or if you are worried about your dog scratching your door.

That said, this is also a pretty easy trick. It's pretty cool to say Close The Door and have your dog do it.
The key to this one is having a dog who will go after food pretty aggressively

So get those dog treats and...

1. Lightly tape a dog treat to the door you want to close.

2. Now, bring your dog into the room and have her sit. Hold her so she won't just grab the treat.

3. Say Close The Door in your strong voice, saying it only once and then let her go.

4. Pet her and say good dog when she grabs the food and the door closes.

5. If she doesn't close the door while getting the food, try putting it higher, so she has to jump and put her weight on the door.

5. Repeat.

Step 6: Now You Know...

Picture of Now You Know...

Now you have taught your dog 2 useful tricks and 2 useless ones. If you haven't succeeded just be patient and keep trying, your dog will get it eventually. Remember, if your dog gets irritated or confused, take a break and try again later. And finally...

Happy Pets Month!

Step 7: Tips

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Take breaks. You and your dog will come back more ready to learn than before. A frustrated dog will not learn well.

Progress to doing the trick without a treat reward quickly. The more dependant the dog becomes on the treat, the less obedient she will be later on.

Use hand signals when you give the command. It will give your dog something else to recognize.

And in the words of Goodhart... Some people feel the need to punish their dog for not "obeying" but this is almost certainly counterproductive and will end up doing more harm than good. No striking, no hitting.

Another important tip from jdege ... If you are trying to force a sit, do so lightly, and do it with a hand on the tail, with your fingers pushing lightly against the inside of the stifle (knee). Don't just push down straight - you could cause serious injury. Dogs' joints aren't very resistant to pressure from unusual directions. Humans have tree-climbers in our ancestry, so our shoulders and hips are built for pressure from odd angles. Dogs weren't, and so dogs' aren't.


GailM31 (author)2016-02-24

"Progress to doing the trick without a treat reward quickly. The more
dependant the dog becomes on the treat, the less obedient she will be
later on."

Really? Can you please provide scientific evidence that states that using a reward somehow makes an animal (any animal) "less obedient later on"? I'm fairly certain that dolphins at Sea World get fed EVERY time they perform a "trick" for as long as they perform that trick. And the Seals that come up and play the horns or do whatever else we think is "fun" also get paid handsomely. So dogs somehow are different? I don't think so. My advice would be to reward the behavior you want more of and never mind the "you need to wean the dog off of reward". Ask yourself this: Would you go to work for no reward (like a pay check)?

msminnamouse (author)2012-08-21

I don't like modeling. Which is where you physically force the dog into position. It can scare some dogs, annoy others and it doesn't encourage the dog to think. \

If luring the dog into a sit doesn't work (having the dog follow a treat into position), then wait for the dog to offer the behavior all on their own and capture it with praise and a treat. When the dog is reliably performing the behavior, put a cue word to it. You can also shape the dog into a sit. This is where you work up to the behavior in steps.


ciaranspelman (author)2015-05-26

my 2 year old Maltese Yorkie can only do one trick and that's sit i tried to do lots of tricks but he dose none of them please tell me what i can do?

grannyjones (author)2015-03-07

Our longhair fox head Chihuahua obeys "stop",and "go", which makes walking with a reel safer, and a JOY. He is very good about only going potty outdoors, and is very sweet and patient with our 5 YO grandson. He's a good dog, and knows it.

CutieI (author)2014-12-21

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it and to all who shared their's too! As I would like also to share with you what I have been so far the fun moments with my cutie hairy Inuh ... Here it is ... ... we all just started working on this command at home and now we do it on at the park. So much fun! (author)2014-11-27

Aside from stay and sit one of the first things that
Buddy easily learned is how to respond if I say “BEG” and when she does it and my smile
is priceless on this little and simple commands is happiness for me already. Maybe you can be as I am too … try checking things out like this link as I did it might help
you just like it did to me..:-)

jfn1 (author)2014-07-05

This is cool :) I'm teaching some of these to my dog. Here is a video: Teaching to lie down

charlieanderin (author)2014-06-06

I love this*

charlieanderin (author)2014-06-06

Olive this

misard (author)2014-06-05

I have a Boston Terrier 2 years old. I started to train him to obey and do some tricks with online training course which I have learned everything to be a good coach. The course is at this address:, which has a 3 day trial only worth 1 dollar, so try to see if you like and a monthly 37 dollars. I have 3 months using this system and you can not imagine what my dog can do.

ponypowerpop (author)2013-06-12

You will need:

craftinsusan (author)2010-03-05

My pup won't do this.  He is 65 lbs of submissiveness.  He is so gentle, the door did not even move.  When I put the treat up higher, the door moving made him run for the hills!  LOL 

He does, however do "high five" - I just raised my hand higher and in the "high five" position - after teaching him "shake".  He LOVES high fiving! LOL

Great instructible!

Submissive isn't a personality trait. I encourage you to read the article "Social Dominance Is Not a Myth: Wolves, Dogs, and Other Animals" by Mark Bekoff in order to correctly understand dominance.

msminnamouse (author)2012-08-21

I don't see you'd think the strong voice is required unless a dog is hard of hearing.

Anyways, another way to teach this is via targeting. Touch your two fingers GENTLY to your dog's noise while saying the cue word "touch". Then praise and give a treat. Eventually, hold your fingers further and further away so the dog is touching your fingers on their own.

Then you can work on pointing to things and telling the dog to "touch" so they target other things. Such as a piece of tape on the door that you're trying to teach them to close.

blueeyesseto (author)2011-09-25

Also dogs are smarter then you think mine learnt how to open a flywire door by putting his paw trough the diamond mesh and pulling back so he can put his head in the way of the closing door no training required

Also another tip when teaching a dog to sit also train it to sit when it sees both hands in the air as children often do this when frighten by larger dogs so when the child puts there hands in the air the dog sits more of a safty thing then a trick

Vinash (author)2009-01-08

my dog is scared of people, how can i get her to be aggressive, she is too friendly

blondie7456 (author)Vinash2011-07-01

I'm really hoping you didn't mean "aggressive". I had some advice for you, but your statement is a contradiction. How can she be scared of people, yet too friendly? If you are a true dog lover, you should know that your dog being 'aggressive' is just looking for trouble. It is putting your dog in harm's way.....if she bites someone - it could mean death for your dog. Plus it gives the rest of us dog lovers a really bad name. Need I say "Michael Vick" ? And I am in NO WAY comparing you to M.V., just making a point.

rlove4 (author)blondie74562011-09-02

I'm guessing Vinash meant to say "confident" - I hope so. Love, time and socialising her Vinash - start with letting her meet quiet folk, avoiding the loud and work up. I see you left your post a while ago, how did she get on V?

craftinsusan (author)Vinash2010-03-05

Why would you want an aggressive dog?
Socialize her more so she is not skittish around people, but it would not be good to encourage aggressiveness, IMHO......

pieman123 (author)2008-04-07

yay now my dog can close doors now all I need to teach him is to give me the tv remote

craftinsusan (author)pieman1232010-03-05

Don't do that.  LOL
A friend tried, and ended upreplacing the remote about a gazillion times - had to put it up so high he could not use it.  Dog was bringing it to him again, and again - over and over.  Even if it was on the table or couch in front of him.

Actually, it WAS pretty funny.....

hahahaha! that IS funny. I just could imagine it. Love it. hahahaha.

Gjdj3 (author)pieman1232008-04-07

Haha. Cool.

dmzag (author)2011-07-01

Really really nice instructable. I plan to try "close the door" today because I (= my 2 beagles) have failed miserably at closing. Opening is a speciality they perfected on their own. I hope this instructable will work on MALE dogs...

Daemidra (author)2011-05-31

I try to put the treat behind her head. Guess what my dog dogs. Jumps back and tries to get the treat out of my hand, and she's barely a foot tall, but like 6 years old. She's a Maltese, they're small. Any suggestions? Because she seems to forget what the trick is called. All she knows is I call her name once: sit; I call her name twice: Lay down.
The frisbee is a little less than one foot from one side to another

helifino (author)Daemidra2011-07-01

Fearful dogs like mine don't like when people put hands over their heads.

I had to teach sit in three steps (you get a couple of other 'tricks' along the way):
1) Stand - hold the treat just far enough above your dog's head to get her to stand on her back legs. When she gets this one down pat, move on to:
2) Sit pretty/Beg - start in a stand, then lower the treat (enclosed in your hand) until her butt hits the ground. Once she gets this trick down pat without having to start from a stand, move on to:
3) Sit - start from a beg, move the treat down until both her front paws hit the floor.

timbit1985 (author)2011-06-20

I personally prefer clicker training. You use the clicker to mark the behaviors that you want your dog to repeat. You tend to get quicker results with less fuss. As with most things, there are multiple ways to accomplish the same goal. So long as your methods are kind, it doesn't matter how you teach your dog.

meyers (author)2009-09-18

your dog is cute man. he gots big ears just like my dog. and i can only teach him two tricks tell him to seat or just play the guitar very loud when he's getting annoying. :)

Gjdj3 (author)meyers2009-09-18

Aw, your dog is cute! What kind is he?

meyers (author)Gjdj32009-09-19

don't know.. i've never seen neither the mother or the father so-..

Aira.vj (author)2008-03-15

Any tips on what to do with a stubborn dog? Our little Yorkie knows perfectly well how to sit and lie down - if you have a treat in your hand. If he doesn't think he's going to get anything out of it, he refuses to do any tricks and just runs around barking and making a mess of the house. He simply doesn't care what we want him to do. I didn't want a dog to begin with, and I'm especially irritated that my mother bought such a stubborn breed. We've had him six months and we still can't even train him to go to the bathroom outside - he just pees wherever he's standing in the house. He simply does not care what he is supposed to do. Does anyone have any ideas?

Prometheus (author)Aira.vj2008-04-07

The reason your dog acts that way is likely for two reasons:

1) Your dog doesn't respect you. To him, it is his house and you are just living in it. Because dogs follow a pack, they tend to obey their pack leader. You have to establish yourself as one and stay that way.

2) Your dog has too much energy because you may not be giving it enough activity. You should walk your dog for at least an hour a day to burn off some of that excess energy.

Walking your dog is a major part of your relationship with them, and letting them do whatever they want during a walk is not the best way to do things until you clearly establish boundaries. Stop letting them always walk ahead of you, and hold them on a short leash. A short leash is holding it as if it was only long enough to go from your hand to the dog's collar. The leash is an extension of you. A leash never lets go because it gives up, so neither should you.

Alpha dog always leads, and followers never lead the alpha dog. This will be one of many boundaries that you will set. Your dog will walk next to you or behind you, but not in front, or you are not in control. Keeping this in mind at all times is a start toward earning your dog's respect and trust. Occasionally, let out some slack to give the dog a chance to relieve itself. If it doesn't, reel it back in and just continue walking.

Corrections to a dogs behavior vary, but never include hitting the animal or causing pain. It may help to tire a hyperactive dog with a brisk walk first, so that excess energy does not get in the way. Jog with the dog instead of walking it, and of course provide it with plenty of fresh water. An example you can try to get started:

Keep a collar on the dog at all times, that is intended for leash use. When they start running amok, grab them by the collar and don't allow them to run away. Don't snatch them angrily, just catch them like you are trying to physically-restrain them from hurting themselves (in a way you are, anyway). As you hold the collar, repeat the command "sit" in a calm but firm manner, and mean it, as you roll the dog's hips downward and backwards toward a sitting position. Since the dog seems to be used to having it's own way, this may take a little time, but do not relent until they do as you tell them. Continue repeating the command as you suggest what you are saying physically, by firmly rolling his butt down to the floor. Be consistent every time, and he/she will eventually understand what you mean. It's not You Vs. the Dog, it's You Vs. The Behavior, and defeat comes by what gives up first.

Treats: Don't ever reward undesired behavior. Using treats to negotiate a behavior can actually backfire on you. "Treats are for tricks", not a behavioral or negotiation tool. Try an exercise in letting the dog know what's yours and not his. Take a treat, and make sure he/she knows what it is, but don't offer it (If your dog knows where the treats come from, this is ideal). Set the container of treats on the floor with a treat on top, but do not let the dog take the treat. Using the word "no" can be helpful to the dog, but mostly you. Stand over the treat, and make them keep their distance, blocking with your foot or hand as necessary. This exercise will take no less than 10 minutes. By doing this, you are claiming the treats as yours and yours alone, and denying any sense of entitlement the dog may feel. To the dog, it is the same as when another dog stands over food and growls if another gets nearby. Now try the "sit" command, and you might be surprised that it suddenly works (not always, but great when it does, and it will come eventually). The dog does not get the treat, nor even close to it, until the behavior of not trying to steal the treat has been performed to your satisfaction, including how long you want them to do it. You can use your foot to block them, just don't kick them by accident. If they are relentless in trying to get at it, hold it in your hand and just ward them off, like it was YOUR food. "No" is an easy word for even cats to learn, so your dog should pick it up quite quickly.

There's too much to really cover, and there is no easy fix. It takes work, dedication, and commitment. Be an authority figure. Never reward poor behavior. Your priority to the dog is to be a leader and act like one...Even people follow leaders, but unlike dogs, people often don't realize when they are being led, even when it's by a dog.

For some basic help, see this and try some of the suggestions. If you really mean it, you will make a change, even in as little as 10 seconds. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

hypnostics (author)Prometheus2009-08-26

Very well said ! I especially like the part about respect and the alpha dog thing. I have a husky, and he's a "puller". It was very hard to establish that we won't continue our walk, not unless he walks by my left side.He has so much energy and is very strong. He calms down after a few minutes and then behaves.

Lftndbt (author)Prometheus2008-04-08

You know there is a "submit" button which allows you to write your own Ible. ;) Just a thought.

Prometheus (author)Lftndbt2008-04-09

LOL...working on that now, way ahead of ya :P

crochetdee (author)Aira.vj2008-12-05

Dogs are children testing what they can get away with. everything is trained with love, not fear, pain, or mailice!!! when the dog pees in the house, get angry, say "bad dog", show them the pee spot (even if it's been hours before you find it) say "no pee, bad pee" or whatever your word for going out and then 1. show them the opened door to the yard and say "good pee, dog's name, good pee or word for walking." 2. take him back to pee spot "bad Pee rant" 3. lock him in bathroom, cage, somewhere where the family isn't. for about 15 minutes to an hour depending on how long it takes dog to CRY for you and then settle down. 4. Open door and invite dog into family with treat. 5. if you see dog peeeing, pick her up, yelling "bad, and put outside. when dog finishes outside, PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE with treats and love like he never Peeded indoors. eventually, dog will realize that to be with family, he must follow the rules. (most of them-- how many do you follow?) Family means love, treats, petting, attention, sitting in lap, or maybe spot he's not suppose to be in-- Sacrid adult spot you were dying to get into when you were kid "eat at the big table." My dog was not allowed in the Bedroom into He submitted to grumpy cat who was his elder. (now 14-year old, 10 lb cat hisses and he's crying, trapped on the bed (all 115lbs) becuase cat WON"T let him down). this can take weeks to months or can be learned over days. Either way, there will be slip ups. Also, try to have her on a schedule. 2-4 times a day you let her out to pee, then ween it down to 2 times (depending on breed). Remember, dog wants your love. Absence's from your love is awful. Dog wants out of the doggy room and in the family room. Everyone in the family must go along with this. (No one can hear cute crying and cave and let him out after 5 miutes of barking). But when he gets out, weakest link gets to shower all the love on him (it's okay to have good cop/bad cop-- that way goodie can actually ask dog, "do you want me to tell Sappho?" Sounds stupid, but when my dog-- who has 20lbs on me-- gets out of hand, I just threaten to rat him out to my husband. and he stops. (note: good cop/bad cop is meaningless is the sense a 3-year old human know everyones buttons and how to push them. My husband and myself go back and forth on good guy/bad guy. Essentially, it's whosever the dog is trying to con at the time and whoever is falling for the con is the Good cop. The seerer of the con is the Bad cop!) good luck and let me know how it goes.

katilicous (author)2009-06-20

NICE Image Notes. Love that commercial- Nice pictures, what a cutie. Probably uses the force like mine does. Thanks

mr_handy (author)2009-04-22

the real trick is teaching them to drive on the right side of the road

thedragonmaster (author)2009-02-22

Dogs sometimes sit when treats are about, almost in an "asking" manner. Make sure to see if He/she does this.

i always thought was because they wanted it faster xD

Future filmaker (author)2009-02-19

,your dog looks just like mine!

flipit119_aaa (author)2009-02-19

also something very important is dogs think there in control and to stop it when every a dog looks you in the eye do not look away its a staring contest and when the dog looks away it shows your dominance it doesnt scare the dog it just showes the dog whos boss.

flipit119_aaa (author)2009-02-19

the most important thing to remember is dont give your dog a treat for it every time!! once the dog starts understanding the commands dont give them treats you must praise them and make them feel good for doing the trick or else the dog will only do it for treats

bowwow (author)2009-01-06

How do you use this technique with a chihuhua? There is not that much difference in positioning treat on a dog this small.

Gjdj3 (author)bowwow2009-01-06

I'm not really sure. I think the legs part would be more important.

=SMART= (author)2009-01-06

I <3 your dog :P

Gjdj3 (author)=SMART=2009-01-06


AzureKeto (author)2008-09-09

odd as it sounds i wonder if instead of using tape you used a touch of peanut butter to make the treat stick?

Gjdj3 (author)AzureKeto2008-09-09

The dog would appreciate that! Haha.

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