Are you ready to impress your friends and family with your dog’s trick skills? Learning advanced tricks is a great way to challenge your dog. Once mastered, these advanced tricks are fun to show off, and they can also be counted toward earning AKC Trick Dog titles.
For these tricks, you’ll just need patience, time, dog treats, and toys if your dog is toy-motivated. If you use a clicker while training, have one on hand for marking when your dog performs the desired behavior. You’ll also want a quiet place to work with your pet.
How to Teach Catch
To teach your dog how to catch, start with your dog in front of you and get their attention with a treat. Then, gently toss a treat with an underhanded throw. If your dog catches the treat, give lots of praise. If they miss the treat, try to grab it before they can gobble it down and try again.
Repeat a couple of times during each training session. When your dog is constantly catching tossed treats, you can start to gently toss lightweight toys your dog enjoys. When your dog catches their toy, give lots of praise and follow up with a treat.
How to Teach “Under the Bridge”
To teach “under the bridge,” you will sit on the floor and raise your knees into a triangle shape, then your dog will crawl under. Make sure to have treats or toys that your dog is excited about. Then, get on the floor with your dog, and raise your knees. Have your dog on one side of your body, with the treat or toy in your hand on the other side. Reach the treat or toy under your legs and let your dog sniff it.
Then, lower the treat or toy towards the ground, slowly moving under your legs. As your dog follows the treat or toy, they will lower their body and follow it under your legs. Once your dog is through your legs, praise and give them the toy or treat.
After a few repetitions, you can add a verbal cue of choice like “under” or “bridge” as they move. When your dog is consistently performing this trick, you can stop luring them under. Instead, you can just give the verbal cue, then praise and treat your dog after they go under your legs.
How to Teach Speak
The easiest way to teach your dog to speak is to use a training approach known as capturing. With capturing, you will mark a naturally occurring behavior and then add a cue over time.
To teach your dog to speak, have treats ready. Whenever your dog naturally barks out of excitement, mark the barking with a cue of choice (like “talk” or” speak”) and give your dog the treat. Using a clicker makes it easy to mark the exact moment your dog barks, helping them understand what you want.
After some repetitions of marking and rewarding, your dog will start to get the idea that you’re looking for them to bark. To prevent excessive barking, once your dog understands the trick, make sure to only reward when your dog barks in response to your cue.
How to Teach Leg Weaves
To teach your dog to weave in between your legs, start in a safe place without a leash on (to avoid getting the leash wrapped around your leg). Have your dog in front of you while you stand with your legs wide apart. Hold a treat in one hand behind your legs so you can try to lure through and around your legs, instead of trying to push the treat from the front. Bend your knees, and use the treat to lure your dog to walk between your legs. When your dog passes between your legs, praise and treat.
When your dog is comfortable doing this, use another treat to guide your dog through your legs and around one leg until they return to stand in front of you. As you lure your dog, you can let them lick and nibble at the treat to keep them in position. When your dog returns to their initial position, praise and treat.
When your dog is confidently following the treat through your legs and around one side, use the same steps to teach them to go through and around your other leg. When your dog is consistently able to be lured between your legs and then around both legs, it’s time to put the trick together (so they’ll move in a figure-8 pattern).
Start by luring your dog between your legs and around your right leg, then around your left leg, before treating them. Next, you can fade out the treat lure, and start to lure your dog between and around your legs with an empty hand. When your dog can weave between your legs following your empty hand, introduce your verbal cue of choice like “weave” or “legs.”With more repetitions, you can phase out your empty- handed lure. Your dog will start to recognize your bending-knee body language as a physical cue for the trick.
Once they’ve mastered leg weaving while you’re standing still, you can teach them to leg weave while you’re walking forward. Start by taking large, slow steps as you cue your dog to weave between your legs. As you add movement, you’ll want to reintroduce the treat lure to help build your dog’s confidence. As your dog gains experience, you can phase out the lure and begin to walk faster with smaller steps to polish the trick.
How to Teach Your Dog to Shake Hands
To teach your dog to shake, hold your hand out to your dog. Ignore your dog while they lick or sniff your hand, then, when your dog paws at your hand, mark that behavior by praising or clicking, and give your dog the treat. Repeat until your dog is constantly pawing at your hand.
Now you can start to build up the duration of how long your dog’s paw is on your hand. You can do so by waiting until the paw rests on your hand before clicking or praising, then rewarding them. Start with just having your dog’s paw on your hand for a second or two. Slowly build up the amount of time as your dog gains understanding.
When your dog is consistently placing their paw on your hand and waiting for the reward, introduce a verbal cue of choice like “shake” or “hello.” Now you’re also ready to flatten your hand and hold it vertically (with the treat in it) in a motion like you’re about to shake someone’s hand. Start to introduce a gentle, up-and-down movement with your hand before treating your dog.
How to Teach Yes and No
With this trick, your dog will seemingly be able to answer “yes” or “no” when you ask a question. To teach your dog to “say yes,” hold a high-value treat in a closed fist (or use another simple hand signal of your choice). Move the hand holding the treat lure up and down slowly, so your dog follows the lure and nods their head, then give your dog the treat.
When your dog is constantly following your fist up and down, try doing this without a treat in your hand. When your dog nods, praise and give a treat with your other hand. After some practice, the closed fist will become the physical cue for your dog to nod their head, and you can phase out moving your fist up and down.
To teach your dog to “say no,” you’ll use a similar approach. Instead of just a closed fist, use a different hand signal, such as a closed fist with your pointer finger up. To teach them to shake their head, you’ll move your hand slowly from side to side, so, when your dog follows your hand, it looks as if they’re shaking their head. When your dog moves their head to follow your hand, praise and treat your dog. With practice, the finger up will become a physical cue for your dog to shake their head.
How to Teach Your Dog to Bow
To teach your dog to bow, start with your dog standing in front of you. Get their attention with a treat in your hand and then lure their nose down between their legs and back towards their chest and belly. As your dog follows the treat lure, they will naturally move into the bow position. Praise and treat your dog, then toss a treat to move them so they don’t go directly into a down position. Repeat over several practice sessions.
While luring and pushing between the dog’s front legs work for some pets, other dogs may just collapse into a “down.” If this happens, Penny Leigh, CPDT-KA, Director of the AKC GoodDog Helpline (GDH), recommends trying putting a hand or just a finger lightly on the dog’s stomach, just below the loin, to cue them that you’re not asking for a down.
When your dog is constantly following the food lure into a bow position, lure them with an empty hand. Treat your dog after they have gone into the bow position. Once your dog is following the empty hand lure, you can begin introducing a verbal cue of choice like “bow” or “fancy.” With practice, your dog will build strength and coordination to hold the bow longer. You can also start to phase out your physical lure, and over time you can evolve the physical cue for this trick to you bowing or curtsying.
How to Teach Your Dog to Make a Circle
To teach your dog to spin, get your dog’s attention with a treat or toy. Hold the lure just above your dog’s nose and then slowly move your hand in a large circle. As your dog follows the treat or toy, they will walk in a circle. Praise and treat your dog. After a few repetitions. when your dog is consistently following the lure in a circle, you can add in your verbal cue of choice (like “spin,” “twirl,” or “around”).
Next, use the same technique to lure your dog in a spinning motion in the other direction. When your dog is constantly following your lure to spin the other way, add in your verbal cue of choice. When your dog is consistently following your cue in both directions, you can use the circle hand motion without a treat in your hand while using your verbal cue. When your dog spins, praise and treat.
How to Teach Your Dog to Play Peekaboo
This trick is a useful skill if you need to maneuver in tight spaces and have your dog close to you. To teach your dog Peekaboo, start by standing in front of your dog, with both of you facing the same direction. Have a treat in your hand and get their attention. When your dog comes forward through your legs, praise and treat.
After a few repetitions, you can introduce a verbal cue of your choice (like “middle” or “peekaboo”) as your dog comes between your legs. When your dog is between your legs, use your release cue (if you have one) or toss a treat to move your dog out of position so you can practice again. As you practice, you’ll be able to fade out luring your dog forward with a treat, and your dog will respond to the verbal cue to come into the Peekaboo position.