Before you start...
- Use positive reinforcements
- Start easy
- Make sure it’s fun for both of you
- Vary your rewards (type of reward, how you give it, size etc.)
- Keep an eye on body language
- Keep practice times short and sweet
- Provide plenty of fresh drinking water
- Only proceed to the next step once your dog has fully mastered the step before
Trick 1: waving with front leg
This trick will definitely win you a lot of attention. It's relatively easy to learn and just so adorable! 👇
Step 1: Put a reward in your closed fist. Let your dog sniff it. The intention is that they put their paw against or on your fist. Say "Good boy/girl" and give the reward. If your dog doesn't do anything with their paw, put your fist on the ground. Eventually, your dog will try to get the treat by using their paw. Repeat until you have both mastered this step.
Step 2: Now alternate between having a treat and not having one. If your dog puts their paw on your fist in both situations, you can go to step 3.
Step 3: Stand quietly in front of your dog. Say ‘wave’ in a kind voice, wait two seconds and then show your fist. Is your dog waving their paw? Then offer the reward. After several repetitions, you’ll see your dog is waving their paw after you say ’wave’ and before you show your fist. Mission accomplished!
Trick 2: walk between your legs
Do you do doggy dance? Then you know this trick is called ‘weaving’. Maybe you've tried a few different variations - like back weave, side weave or even... breakdance weave?! Before you teach your dog these super cool tricks, start with a lesson in walking between your legs. Check it out..
Step 1: You need to teach your dog to walk between your legs, while you have your back turned. But how? Throw a treat away from your dog. As they pick it up, turn around so you have your back turned. Now, get another treat and hold it between your legs. As soon as your dog’s head appears in the right place, offer the reward.
Step 2: Repeat step 1 but now turn 45 degrees so your dog is standing at your left or right side.
Step 3: Repeat step 2 but now use a hand movement instead of a treat. As soon as your dog follows your hand and passes between your legs, say ‘ood boy/girl’ and immediately give him a treat from your other hand.
Step 4: The final step is to stand in front of your dog and throw a treat away again. When they return to you, show them the treat and lure them to your left or right side. As soon as they go to the indicated side, move the treat to the centre - between your legs. Say ‘good boy/girl’ and offer the reward when your dog follows your hand and appears between your legs.
If your dog stands still, give them another treat. Then say ’good boy/girl’ again and throw the treat away so they will walk (or run!) through your legs. As ever, repetition is key!
Trick 3: Take a bow
Puppies often do this on their own while playing or stretching out. When playing, we call it a 'play bow' (for yoga lovers: just think of the downward dog posture) - but it’s basically forelegs bent and hind legs stretched. Click here for an extensive step-by-step plan.
Trick 4: Go to a family member on demand
One for the daredevils... A test to see if your four-legged friend is as good (or as bad?) at remembering names as you are (wink wink).
The goal? Ask your dog to go to a family member who is somewhere else in the house or garden. Obviously, for this exercise, you need at least two people. Also important: your dog must be able to respond to their name for this exercise.
Person A = you
Person B = Mathilde
Step 1: You and Mathilde should stand about 3 metres apart. The dog is with you. Now say ’look for Mathilde’, in a kind voice. Two seconds later, Mathilde should call the dog to herself. As soon as the dog leaves towards her, Mathilde says ‘good boy/girl’ and offers a reward. Once that goes smoothly, move on to step 2.
Step 2: Start as in step 1. When you say ‘look for Mathilde’, you look in her direction. As soon as the dog looks in her direction, Mathilde calls the dog. When the dog leaves you, Mathilde says ‘good boy/gir’" and offers a reward- of course!
Step 3: Now try to say ‘look for Mathilde’ without letting Mathilde call your dog. Don't forget the reward 😉
Step 4: Repeat step 3 but increase the distance and make sure Mathilde remains visible. Tip: when your dog is in doubt, you can strengthen the behaviour by walking together.
Step 5: Now, Mathilde is no longer visible, but still quite a short distance from your dog. For example, before, you were all together in the hallway, but now you and your dog are in the living room. Now the challenge for your four-legged friend is to reach Mathilde on their own!
Step 6: Finally, it’s time to increase the distance. When your dog walks smoothly to Mathilde, you can make the exercise more exciting by, for example, adding obstacles or asking for other things such as ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’ beforehand.