“Sit” and “stay” are old standbys when it comes to dog training — but consider all of the other fun tricks you could be teaching your pup. Training doesn’t have to be hard or tedious, either. After all, it should be fun for both you and your pooch.
“The best way to make training fun for your dog is to have shorter sessions so he doesn’t get bored,” said Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, professional dog trainer for over 17 years and owner of Pawsitive Results in Lexington, SC. “Also, you want your dog to want to work with you, and dog treats are the best reward for training sessions.”
Anderson took us through the three steps to teach a dog to spin in a circle. This trick is, surprisingly, very easy to teach (and it’s one that’s really fun to show off!). You can apply the fundamentals of the lesson below to other tricks as well, using different hand gestures.
- Settle on a Reward. A reward, such as Iams Shakeables Soft & Meaty Treats for Dogs gives your dog something to work for. The shaking sound you can make with this treat can entice your dog to pay extra attention and signal it’s time for fun.
- Become a Gesture Expert. Hand gestures will also be essential during your training, so practice the one you want your dog to learn before trying to teach him the trick. So for example, to teach your dog to move in a circle, simply move your hand in a complete circular motion over his head (while holding a treat, of course), and have your dog follow it. After a successful attempt to follow your hand gesture, reward your dog with his treat.
- Keep it Short and Sweet. Repetition will be the clincher in training. Do the hand motion a couple of times while holding the dog treat and rewarding him when he is reliably spinning, but remember to keep each session short — to about 15 minutes a day — so your dog doesn’t get bored. Add in a verbal cue like “spin”, and when he learns that, you can teach him to spin the other direction.
It’s also important to start training in an area that offers minimal distraction, says Anderson. For an easy way to fit training into your own busy schedule, try muting the TV during commercials for the perfect 2-3 minute block to get some training done without having to specifically carve out time for it.
Your dog is sure to love the extra playtime (and treats!), and you’ll be creating a stronger bond between the two of you as well.