I teach my dogs pretty much everything they need to know via tricks. Afterall, agility, obedience, tracking, disc dog… – it’s all just another dog trick.

Tricks train them to think, to use their body and mind. Tricks teach them that there is no difference between working and playing and gives them the right attitude. Teaching tricks teaches them that they’re the smartest dogs in the world, that there are no mistakes and no failure, that trying things is good. Tricks give them confidence in their thinking abilities and moves, improve their strength, balance and coordination. Tricks build a bond between me and them and create a deeper understanding for them how I think and for me how they think. Tricks make them feel important, smart, confident, needed and bonded with me.

Tricks are very important for young dogs as they learn to use their body and mind that way. They’re also great for cross training of competing dogs, it keeps all the muscle active and strong and prevents injuries. And it’s especially great for old dogs, as tricks keep them mentally and physically active and that’s what keeps them young and healthy.

AND they don’t take much time, space or equipment, so you don’t have any excuse not to teach some tricks to your dog!

Here is the right place to post your videos to give us some ideas, to ask questions on “how to” or ask for a suggestion if you get stuck somewhere on a way.

Here comes one of my favourite videos:

To learn more about tricks, please see my training DVDs on tricks.

212 thoughts on “Tricks

  1. Hi Silvia,

    I am trying to teach my sweet pointer mix Bella, handstand.
    For the last year I didn’t know how to get to next step and here is where we were:

    Then a friend of mine, a dogtrainer also, told me to work on tricks that will work her abs, like “sit with hands up” and it worked!! She is higher now and her balance is better..

    But what’s next step from here? And how?? I can’t get her to take a step while she is up, but maybe I need to work with the balance a little more??

    Hugs from Denmark;
    Mischa, Bella & Lulu

    • Looks really good already! Now it’s just a matter of practice to build enough strength and balance to add more duration. If you want a walking handstand, you can as well offer some support (let her lean on your hand with hind feet) and try to get the step forward then. It’s often easier for them to stay on front feet while walking forward, so definitely worth showing her this option to see if she finds it easier too.

  2. Hi Silvia,

    I’ve been doing some handstand practice with Elsa & Zephyr recently. They both seem to be doing good lifts into the position but I’m wondering how to get a freestanding handstand from this point. Any suggestions?

    • You need an empty object next that won’t allow any climbing -- like a table or something. Jackpot for the most powerful pushes up. Alternatively, use thinner&thinner objects (like thinner&thinner tree and eventually a pole) or such objects that don’t really offer much support (like a soft fence). You can also have them do it against your legs as you can either stand so that they can climb some or so that they can’t + can feel really well if they’re leaning on you or not and can reward the right moments.

      • OK, great…we’ll try these things! I never thought of a tree— we certainly have enough different size trees to practice on! Will let you know how it goes.

  3. Hi, I’m new to shaping (or lets say I’m bad at shaping!). I just got your DVD Training for a better bond and I’m trying the basic (supposedly quick and easy) Suitcase trick. With no luck! I spent 15 minutes and all I get is front feet in, nothing more. The problem is I don’t even get anything that moves closer to a back leg in to click! I am trying to click and treat a lot, but I just get standing with front two legs and then nothing more offered, except for maybe pawing at me or the edge of the suitcase. If I continue to click, we just stay there and if I stop to see if he will offer something else, he just gets out of the suitcase! Help!

    • First, make sure the suitcase is big enough ie. longer as the dog. If you can find another, bigger object, that might be even better. Do you get any movement with hind feet that you could click at all? Also, reward by tossing treats in the suitcase, to keep his focus off you and on the suitcase.

  4. For embedding a video, press “enter” (go in a new line) after you are finished with a text and copy a link into the same box as the text.

    Looking forward to see your tricks, I’m running out of ideas lately!

  5. Hi

    Thats exactly what I did. I made sure I went onto a new line and pasted the embed code in the box under the text…nothing…:(

    A lot of the tricks in this vid are double tricks involving both dogs at the same time.
    I’ll try again, here goes. I have pasted the text below this…if it doesn’t show, I am at a loss. The code is showing at the moment before I submit the comment.

  6. Haha, yes, I’m lucky in that respect. These two were flyball dogs and sleet being 3 months older than wren and more pushy in personality and stronger drive, she wouldn’t let wren take a ball as a pup and so wren stopped even trying. As I wanted wren to learn to get a ball, I had to clicker train the whole process with a bit of back chaining for good measure. Once she got into it, I could start using a ball as reward rather than it being a task with the reward of treats.
    They were doing well at flyball but I quit for reasons other than them.
    The reason I mentioned this was because I only used to throw one ball which is sleets. Wren would never pick it up first but would wait for sleet to pick it up and then chase her, grab the rope thats attached to it and then tug with sleet as she tried to return to me. I didn’t want to encourage the chase behaviour because it can transfer to chasing the dog in the other lane when doing flyball racing…and so I taught Wren to go after her own ball. Sleet is only interested in her ball and isn’t bothered about the new one I introduced to Wren. I suppose I am lucky in that respect. It was just a case of encouraging wren to chase her own and leave sleet alone. She still has a little desire to want to chase after Sleet but manages to not do it for the most part. Her ball drive can still be a bit relaxed on occasion depending on how you play with her but, fortunately, she still seems eager enough to do the tricks.

    The double tricks don’t take as long as you’d think. They can be awkward at first, especially when one of your dogs always wants to be doing what the other should haha, but like with the roll over and jump circle where they are each doing a different thing at the same time, you notice I’m still using quite noticeable hand signal for the rolling dog and they’ve gotten used to the fact that they only roll when they are on that side and the other jumps over them. I like double tricks because it means we can all take part together.:D

    I’ll have to get some more of their stuff filmed. They are both currently learning to skip as in the gait (Hop once on each leg before transferring to the other and repeating that side) like what humans do rather than with a rope. They do it in heel position and sync their gait to mine….not perfectly yet but we’re working on it.

  7. There’s two versions of my above post due to my continuing dumbness and not replying in the correct box. Will you please remove this and the other long duplicate post near the top which is out of place? Sorry for my bodge-ups. I will get used to posting correctly…eventually.

  8. Oops, i thought the picture would be the avatar.. *blushes*

    Anyway, thats my miniature schnauzer waving in the picture. I have a slight difficulty with her. She is for starter afraid of the clicker, so i have to teach everything by trying to lure her into doing the trick and show and support which can be a little difficult sometime. And since i wanna use the clicker on the next dog i get whenever that will be, i cant have an older dog thats scared to death of the clicker så my question is, how do i teach her that the clicker is a positive thing?

    Ive tried to use a pen, ive tried to hide the clicker in my pocket, ive tried to hide it in TWO grill gloves and feeding her minced meat at the same time.. which ended up in her puking. She’s 6 years old now, and she’s a real lady. I cant even get her to roll over :)
    And as if that wasnt enough, she has a mind of her own what tricks to practice from day to day basis. I feel like a beginner compared to everyone here, especially since i dont even know how to add music or text to the video. So i warn you that the video is a little boring, but to make it a little easier to follow i added the order of the tricks in the information box :)
    She’s my first dog so we do our best to get better :)
    //Mariah & Ixxi from Sweden

  9. Hello

    Lots of dogs are afraid of the clicker but that doesn’t mean you can’t “Clicker” train them. The only thing about an actual clicker is that it makes a unique sound that the dog doesn’t otherwise hear.
    You can use “Clicker” words. With my two girls, one of them works for the clicker and also for the word “Yesss”, said quickly with an extended “SSSS” sound on the end…I wouldn’t normally say it like that in general speech. The other also works for “Yess”, but, instead of the clicker, I make a higher pitched “Boo” sound myself….this works just like using the clicker….so do something like that instead…doesn’t need to be a click.

    Saying all this, Sleet knows what Wrens “Boo” sound means and Wren also knows what the clicker means as they watch each other training. Even though they don’t normally have each sound used on each other, if I go and make a bodge up and accidentally use the wrong sound with the wrong dog, they still respond just like they do with their own sound….they they’ve obviously figured out what each others sounds mean.

  10. You can clicker train without a clicker! Just use a specific word or sound! And the puppy, you can condition to both and then use a clicker when older dog is not present and a sound when she is. Have fun!

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