How To Teach Your Dog Tricks — Make it Fun!

March 25, 2018 in Articles

How Can I Teach My Dog Tricks?

You may be thinking that it is just too difficult on how to teach your dog tricks, but actually, it can be a quite gratifying experience.  It will require a bit of work on your part.  The most effective way to genuinely interact and build a strong bond with your canine friend is through training your pup how to perform different tricks.  In doing so, your dog will expend a good amount of energy (which is great for his health) and, in turn, create a happy and confident dog.

Beautiful Dog Giving His Paw


Overly energetic dogs can benefit greatly from trick training because it can help in calming them. Your dog’s energy will be channeled to something both constructive and exciting. There are steps to ensure that you teach your dog tricks the proper way, and we’ll discuss some of them now.

One thing that you need to be aware of is that you must be understanding and patient.  Dogs – whether old or young – are capable of learning commands like “sit”, “heel” or “jump”. What should always be put into consideration is the fact that all dogs are different. Some have the energy and sharpness to learn tricks and actions faster, while others need more time to do so. Research has shown that a dog can sometimes take up to four weeks to completely learn a command.  A regular training schedule is advisable and your dog should also be given ample time to learn.

As for older dogs, before teaching them more advanced tricks, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian. This is because older dogs are more prone to injury.  It is important to discover what’s best for your dog so that training sessions can be rewarding for both parties.


Be Ready and Well Prepared

Before you start teaching your dog tricks, you have to make sure that you are well prepared and equipped for the task. The success of this task will hugely depend on you having treats, your time, and patience. Using treats to motivate your dog (reward-based training method) is very popular and effective.  Be certain to use only treats that are high quality and very tasty.  It is important that the treats are ones good that will grab your dog’s attention. If it is a treat that they turn their nose up to, then this will not work out very well with the training session.

My Rewards are Yummy!


Also, proper motivation is highly important.  If you lack patience and are not willing to take the time that is required for your dog to learn the new tricks, even the tasty treats will not be enough to motivate her to learn.  Training your dog is a commitment – you just cannot force or expect your dog to do (and know) what you want right from the start.

These Organic, Gluten-Free Dog Treats are made especially for Training purposes. For more info, click on the following link. All Natural Dog Training Treats


Use Positive Reinforcement When Teaching Your Dog

It is known from Behavioral Science that when behaviors are rewarded, they will continue.  Positive reinforcement means the use of rewards to help your dog master a certain trick or behavior. Treats, praise toys and play can be used as motivators to help teach your dog new behaviors. Instead of a punishment-based training when your dog does something wrong with this training, give them treats when they do something right.  Use a tone of voice that will show your dog that you are happy with what he or she has done; they do understand this.

Dogs particularly like this attention and they will repeat the behavior so that they can receive the treat or praise again. This strategy has been very effective in the training of older and stray dogs who had unknown histories.

Reward-based training remains the best way to teach your dog new tricks because of its simplicity and effectiveness. On the other hand, a punishment-based training will make dogs do the tasks out of fear or retreat and become introverted, which is not what you want to happen.  This might lead to problems like anxiety or a bad relationship with your dog.


Training with a Clicker


Another effective technique in marking good behavior of a dog is by using a clicker, which was developed by trainers of marine mammals. This small device is used as a bridge and can be very effective when your dog is learning a new action (i.e., sitting or jumping). Dog trainers have been using this popular technique for some time with very good results. It can be used on any and all kinds of domestic animals and it has even found to be effective for wild animals. I recommend this Training Clicker Package.  Click the “Amazon” image below to get all the details.

Your dog is already used to your voice, which means that he or she might not associate it with the action you are teaching him or her. When a clicker is used only in training sessions, your dog will be better informed on what to do.  The clicker lets the dog know that whatever he or she is doing when hearing the “clicking” sound, that what they’ve done is correct, and their reward (doggie treat) is to follow!

But before using a clicker, you have to train your dog to know that the sound of the clicker signifies that a reward is coming.  To do this, all you have to do is use the clicker at the same time you give your dog a food reward. When this is done a number of times, your dog will begin to associate the clicking sound with the arrival of a treat. 

Your dog needs to be made aware that when the clicker is used, that signifies time for her treat.  In order to make this work, use the clicker simultaneously while giving the treat to your pup.  In this way, the dog will associate the clicking sound with the forthcoming treat. This keeps your dog motivated to learn more and more tricks!  Clicker training is a very effective technique.

The exact time you give your dog a reward is very important because it will help him or her to know what behavior you’re rewarding. That is why you have to reward your dog at the same time he/she has performed the desired behavior.

I’m ready for my reward!


As soon as your dog has mastered a command, you can make the rewards a little unpredictable.  This will keep him or her motivated. This can be done by rewarding every third or fourth time your dog performs the desired action – instead of every single time.


Short But Effective Training Sessions

It doesn’t matter how young or agile your dog is or if he or she has a long attention span. This is because shorter training sessions are always better than longer ones. Older dogs will get quickly tired if the training session is too long. As for younger dogs, they might become bored and disinterested if they repeat the same trick for a long time.

Now, this is fun!

It would be better if you can train them within ten minutes at different intervals of the day. It is also important to look for signs of exhaustion, loss of concentration, yawning or droopy ears. If you notice things like this, then it’s time for a break.

Also, teaching a lot of tricks in a limited period of time will overwhelm and ultimately confuse your dog. To avoid frustration on your part, teach your dog the basics at first.  When your dog has made a lot of progress on the first trick, you can then add another. It is also preferable to do training sessions at a place – devoid of distractions – that your dog is familiar with. Playing soft music might be helpful, but be sure not to up the volume — just keep it low.  When you feel your dog is ready, you can then add some minor distractions which should not interfere.



When new tricks are being taught to dogs, the process should be very simple so that they can be able to follow.  Subsequent tricks can be more difficult as they have begun to master the easier ones. The tricks can then become more polished and complete. I hope that you now have a good idea on how to teach your dog tricks.  Consistency, positive reinforcement, repetition, and timely feedback are essential in training your dog or dogs.  It should be known that intimidation, excessive force or punishment are absolutely needless and counterproductive in the training of a dog.  Make this a fun experience for you and your loving dog!  There is nothing better than spending time and bonding with your precious pup!  I know how true this is for me.

Getting Ready to Make the Jump!

How To Teach Your Dog Tricks — Make it Fun!


    1. Kai says:

      Hi! Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas and tips to train our dogs. I agree with you that Positive Reinforcement works best. I managed to teach my dog a few simple commands through this technique. I combine treats and praises together when my dog successfully completes a command.
      I never thought about using a clicker, now I will definitely consider using one.

      Thank you!

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Kai!

        Thanks for the comments on this article!  Yes, I believe positive reinforcement always works best (seems to work with my kids, too, most of the time…lol).  Praising is a great thing to do, as I read that you do this as well.

        I found the clicker works well and had gotten one after researching this topic on teaching your dog tricks.  Glad that you will consider using it!  : )

        Enjoy spending time with your sweeties!  

        Thank you, again!


    2. Donna Rowe says:

      These are all great tips for training your dog to do tricks or good behavior. I definitely agree with you that positive reinforcement using treats or praise for good behavior is much better than a corrective form when they are bad.

      My little Yorkie responds very well to praise and has become a much more obedient dog (not always but better than before).

      I often wondered about what to do when the dog finally gets the trick (or whatever) as to whether or not to give her a treat each time. However, you mention to do it maybe every third or fourth time that he/she does it. That is something that I will have to try.

      Do you find that some breeds are easier than others for this?

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Donna,

        Thanks so much for the comments on my article!  Yes, I find praise works much better than scolding.  Sometimes they need to be corrected, of course, such as when they are chewing on something that they should not.  But I never hit them and even if I raise my voice, a short time later, I give them a hug.

        As far some breeds being easier to train … yes, I have found this to be true.  I had a couple dogs (Hound mix) that needed a bit more time, while my Black Lab/Chow learned tricks and commands in such a short time!  She was my most intelligent dog, and very kind and obedient.  My 2 pups (one is Pit/mix and the other lab/mix) seem to learn at different rates.  But, I believe that all dogs are very intelligent and it just takes time and patience before they will master this!  : )

        Best wishes!!


    3. Megan says:

      Hi Cathy
      You have made some really great points here. We have a dog who should have been a teenage boy – she LOVES to eat. As she is so highly food motivated it makes it easy to get her to do a command if she knows there is food at the end of it. However, having treats is sometimes enough to make her distracted as she is so focused on the treat that she doesn’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything else. Do you have any ideas on how to manage that?

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Megan,
        Thanks, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! It’s funny that you mentioned that about your dog. My boy dog is similar to your girl! : ) He is always wanting to eat but learned how to master some tricks very well! I think it might be a good idea to get a clicker as this has worked well for many (myself included). I have one mentioned on my site, and it comes with a carrying case. Good luck! : )

    4. John Rico says:

      Hello there! I just recently adopted a dog and I want to teach him tricks. I’ve tried several things and so far he’s learning it. I didn’t use any clicker and the training is kinda long like around an hour. Do you think that should I get a clicker to make the training better? Also should I make the training like 30 mins rather than an hour?

      • Cathy says:

        Hi John,

        I’m glad to hear that your dog is beginning to learn the tricks that you’re teaching him!  As far as the length of time for each training, I feel an hour may be a bit too long — I would stick with a half hour since the dog may become tired or bored and not perform as well.

        I have tried training without a clicker and also with.  I have found that in using the clicker the dog does much better!  Presently, I’m using the clicker (the one mentioned in the article) for my pups who are now 10 months old.

        Thanks for writing in, and I wish you and your dog all the best!


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How To Teach Your Dog Tricks — Make it Fun!

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