When tackling the art of training a puppy, the average dog owner will likely first focus on house training, followed by simple commands such as Sit, Stay, Come and Heel. However, once your pup has mastered the basics, depending on how ambitious you are (and how willing she is), it may be time to teach her some “party tricks” that will really impress friends, family and of course, the other pooches. To get an idea for the training opportunities at your disposal, we’ve outlined a few dog-friendly talents and how to achieve success. Train away (and make sure to capture these on video)!
The Army Crawl
Training your pup for the armed forces may seem like an impossible feat, but you might be surprised to learn that mastering the army crawl is completely doable. Not only an impressive trick, but also a good exercise to improve joint flexibility, have your dog lie down and drag a treat in front of her nose across the ground, which should spur the desire to scoot on her belly. Once she shows progress, add a command of choice such as “Crawl!” along with the gesture and treat. She’ll soon associate the behavior with the reward and perform upon request.
Another military-themed trick, the salute, is quite easy for a dog to pick up if coached properly. Simply post a sticky note above your pup’s brow, which will cause a natural reflex to paw it off. Each you’re your pup reaches above his eye to remove the sticky, say “Salute” and hand him a treat to praise the behavior. After enough repetition, your dog will associate only the verbal command with the action and you can remove the note.
Teaching your pup to “shoot hoops” on the court is not only great exercise for him, but for you too! Start slowly by using a lightweight ball, throwing it around, dribbling and allowing your pup to chase and play with the ball. Whenever he interacts with the ball, praise and reward him with a treat. Once he’s relaxed and playing happily and consistently, put the ball on his nose, reward and give treat and then bounce the ball off his nose, followed by rewarding with a treat. Repeat these steps and he’ll quickly start to understand that playing ball not only means treats, but also lots of fun!
Take care with teaching your pup to dance, especially if they’re a larger breed, overweight, prone to conditions like hip dysplasia, or on the older side. A most effective and easy-to-learn skill for smaller dogs, dancing is a really fun trick to teach. Simply have your dog sit and then dangle a treat above her head (you may even need to move the treat a bit behind the head). Once your dog is standing up on her hind legs, move the treat in a circle above her head until she spins. Accompany this with the command “Dance!” and provide a treat. Once she gets the hang of it, she’ll do it without a treat upon command.
Can’t get enough of those puppy kisses? Teach your pup to kiss on command for that perfect smooch. Take a little peanut butter or cream cheese and dab it on your cheek (or lips, no judgement). Then give the cue “Kiss,” lean in towards your dog and let him finish the job. Remember, practice makes perfect and with enough repetition, be prepared to get lots of unsolicited slobbery, wet kisses!