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




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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!

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Step 1: 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!

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!

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!

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!

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...

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


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.

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    130 Discussions


    3 years ago

    "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)?


    6 years ago on Step 2

    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.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Step 2

    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?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    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..:-)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    The bad behavior of my dog forced me to investigate how I could train him. I found this system online and it has given me excellent results, ! He no longer bites my furniture, or my shoes, no longer urinates in the room, and no longer barks like crazy!


    6 years ago

    You will need:


    9 years ago on Step 5

    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!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 5

    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.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    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.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    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


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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......