By: | | Dogs, Dog Training

Is your dog ready to start earning his kibble? Learning new tricks stimulates your dog’s mind and builds a stronger bond between your dog and your family members. Making your dog more helpful is an added bonus.

These useful dog tricks not only come in handy; they’re sure to impress your guests.

First, Make Learning Fun

The time it takes for your dog to learn useful tricks will vary depending on his breed, existing skill level and individual personality. Some dogs can pick up new tricks over a few days, while others take weeks. Mastering a complicated, multi-step trick can take months of practice.

Learning should always be fun. Reward your dog with a treat he really loves – chicken, cut-up hot dogs, or meaty treats are the most motivating. Stop training when your dog gets frustrated, and take a few steps back next time you start again. Dogs learn best when new skills are presented as a game with lots of happy praise.

Alert You to The Doorbell, Alarm, or Timer

You can teach your dog to come to you and nose at your hand or paw at your leg whenever they hear the doorbell, the washing machine buzzer or the oven timer. This comes in handy if you can’t always hear these sounds in every part of your home, or if you’d like to discourage barking at the door.

First, teach your dog how to alert you. Encourage your dog to nudge you, and reward him when he does. Once he gets the hang of it, start using a command word like “alert.”

After a few sessions, you can begin to pair the alert command with the trigger sound. When the doorbell rings, tell your dog to “alert” you while you’re right near the door. Pretty soon, your dog will look at you when they hear the sound. Slowly phase out the command word as your dog associates the sound with the action. Finally, gradually increase your distance from the door until your dog is able to find you and alert you no matter where you are in your home.

Find Your Keys

Have you ever been late to work because you couldn’t find your keys? Your dog’s acute sense of smell can help you find them in seconds.

Start by getting a keychain or lanyard that your dog can comfortably hold in his mouth. Introduce your dog to this keychain by playing fetch with it. You may have to introduce it to your dog without keys attached, as the dangling, clattering keys could make your dog uncomfortable at first. Every time your dog retrieves the keys, reward and praise him.

Ask your dog to “find the keys” as he brings them to you from a short distance – toss them just a few feet away. Then, gradually work up his search skills by placing the keys further and further away, and begin to hide them in plain view behind couch cushions and under t-shirts.

As your dog gets better at bringing you the keys, begin to hide them in places where they normally get lost. Practice in different rooms of the house, on walks, at the park, until your dog can find your keys anywhere.

Learn Family Members’ Names

Once your dog learns to distinguish between different family members, you can train him to go alert a specific person, or even deliver notes between people in different rooms.

Start by sitting in a circle, and taking turns telling the dog to go to a specific person, making sure to emphasize their name. When the dog goes to right person, that family member should praise him and give him a treat. If you play this game whenever you’re in the same room, it won’t be long before your dog can learn to find members of the household no matter where they are.

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