Most dogs love learning new tricks, not only is it great for mental stimulation, it’s also a fun and healthy way to bond. If your dog is willing and ready, there’s no reason not to teach them something new. Dog guru status? You’ll be well on your way.
Easy tricks you can teach
Every dog is different, so how quickly they pick things up will vary from one pooch to the next. The majority of dogs can learn how to sit or lie with relative ease, particularly when food is involved. If you make recall activities like stay and come a regular thing, your pet will likely pick them up quickly. This simple activity is a great way to prepare and practice for when your dog will be off lead, instilling confidence that they’ll return when called.
Give classes a go
Do you have a particularly naughty woofer? Your first port of call should be your local vet practice; they can give you relevant information for trainers they recommend. If you’re looking for expert advice on a specific type or worrying pattern of dog behaviour, it’s advised that the trainer you use is accredited and offering safe and qualified advice.
Prefer DIY? Here are some tips on dog training at home
We know it can be frustrating when you’re trying to teach something new, but if you lose your patience be sure you don’t resort to negative reinforcement, as it will often make the problem worse or create new unhelpful behaviour patterns. Reward your dog when they behave well, with both words and treats (edible or in the form of toys). And remember, learning can take time, just as it does for humans, so a little patience will go a long way.
Every dog reacts differently when it comes to receiving rewards in return for learning new tricks, with some being keen to perfect their skill if they’re motivated by food, while other dogs may only respond when a toy is at play. Some dogs may not even be fussy about which toy they receive, they’ll mostly be grateful to have your time and attention, so even if it’s an older toy, they’ll still be pleased as punch.
There’s no need to disrupt your pet’s usual routine, feed them as you normally would, wait for a calm moment and then gently encourage them to perform your trick. Once they’ve grasped what you’re trying to do, introduce a small treat, reassuring them that they’ll get something in return for their effort. Many owners will find clickers to be a useful tool when training, while other prefer to incorporate new tricks into their usual walks.
Can dog breed be an influence?
Despite popular belief, there’s no specific set of breeds that are easier to train. While it’s true that some may be more placid when it comes to training, or others quicker to learn, with a good bond between pet and owner, most dogs will pick up tricks in their own time. Remember, patience is key, as are words of encouragement and some mild bribery in the form of treats.
How about age?
It will likely come as no surprise that the younger you teach a pooch a trick, the better they’ll pick it up. Friendly reminder: remember that your puppy will need to be fully vaccinated and treated for parasites before they venture outside. Puppies and younger dogs are generally full of beans, so teaching anything new is a productive way to help them channel that excitement and energy. As an added bonus, training from a young age can encourage good habits and better behaviour before they learn anything unhelpful or naughty.
If your dog is in good health and enjoys interacting with you, there’s no reason you can’t try to teach them something new, despite the very popular saying about old dogs and new... If your pet is older or suffers from any conditions, it might be worth chatting with your vet before introducing any new activities or training, just to ensure they’re suitable.