dog tricks and commands

Teaching the dog commands or tricks

When training commands, tricks or things that are unnatural from the dog's point of view (e.g. brushing, cutting claws, checking teeth, putting on a dog jacket), I like to use classic dog training.


Otherwise, I orientate myself in my work to the aspects of dog psychology, the natural way. I observe how the dogs communicate and interact with each other. I then apply that to my work.


But since I haven't seen one dog teach another to put on a dog jacket, I choose the human way here.

The focus is on having fun!

What is important for dog training?

The right reward

What does your dog like, what motivates your dog to do something with you?


For most dogs I know, the best reward is:


Take small and preferably soft treats that your dog can chew quickly. If you have treats that are too big or hard, then your dog will be more concerned with chewing than learning the trick.


If the treats smell nice, that's extra motivation. However, remember to adjust the amount of food according to the additional treats given.


Is your dog more likely to be motivated by toys? No problem. For some dogs, praise by voice or stroking is enough. So first find out what motivates your dog.


For harder tricks, I like to use a secondary amp, the clicker. It is important that you condition your dog for the clicker first. This means that the dog knows that after each click the reward follows. Yes, even if you've made a mistake. With this tool you can very precisely confirm the desired behavior of your dog, e.g. the paw should be in a certain position during a trick.


You have about 1.5 seconds to reward your dog for the behavior. If you take longer, your dog can no longer associate this with the desired action and, in the worst case, you will reward other behavior.


The same applies to punishment, by the way. Many people scold their dog when they come home because, for example, the dog broke something while they were away. The owners then assume that the dog knows exactly what it has done. He often only reacts to the mood of the owner and therefore shows submissive behavior.


The dog no longer associates your behavior with its misconduct. This leads us directly to the next point:

Your mood

Only train your dog if you really feel like it. If you are annoyed, frustrated or even angry, your dog will notice it immediately and, in the worst case, link it to the training. Practicing commands or tricks should be fun and take place in a relaxed atmosphere.


Take your time and don't do  the  exercises if you're in a hurry. Your dog needs as long as he needs. A lot of small repetitions are important and also stopping when it's most beautiful.


If your dog starts squeaking, scratching, biting, or showing other changes in behavior, this is usually a sign that he is overwhelmed. You probably practiced with him too long or were incomprehensible to him. By that I mean he doesn't know what you want from him.


Try to simplify your exercises and break it down into many small steps.


Practicing tricks or commands is very tiring mental work for your dog. Most dogs only need a few minutes to train. If possible, end an exercise after a positive result, or reduce the requirement so that you can end positively.


Do you remember when you wrote a test at school?

You were also tired afterwards, even though you didn't do any physical activity. This is how your dog feels when it comes to mental workload.


Please also remember that your command has to be repeated MANY times before your dog really understands it reliably. Then name the command with one word. He should associate the word with the action you want.

The right place to practice

Please remember to practice in different places so that your dog can do the trick not only in the living room afterwards. Start in low-stimulus environments so your dog can focus.

As little distraction as possible is ideal. It is best to start at home and if the exercises there work reliably, you move the training outside.


Does your dog start barking, squeaking, scratching, jumping or overexcited when it is mentally busy?

These can be signs of being overwhelmed. As I said, end the unit on a positive note, because often less is more.