Let's face it: with commands like "sit" and "come" under your dog's belt, you can take him out in public, but dog food commercial directors aren't pounding down your door. You want a dog that raises eyebrows, attracts comely (human) members of the opposite sex, and pays your bills. While all of these things may not actually happen, we can help you teach your dog a few more fun little tricks.
- Get your dog to sit first and hold his attention with a treat.
- Then pick up one of his front paws and hold it very loosely in your hand as you say, "SHAKE."
- Don't grab his paw or he'll get freaked out by the pressure and withdraw.
- Reward him immediately and repeat the exercise several times before giving him a chance to place his paw onto your open palm by himself.
- If he doesn't do it after a couple of seconds, pick up his paw for him, while saying, "SHAKE," and guide it into your hand.
- Eventually, he'll get the idea.
You'll need your dog on a long leash or clothesline for this trick:
- Catch his attention with his favorite toy and get him excited by waving it around before throwing it a short distance away from you.
- As he inevitably starts to run towards it, yell, "FETCH!"
- Once your dog picks up the object, don't walk towards him; wait until he comes to you.
- If he starts to wander off elsewhere, pick up the leash and gently pull him towards you.
- Pet him on his back and wait for him to drop the toy on his own. (If you try to grab it out of his mouth, he'll interpret it as a tug-of-war game.)
- If a couple of hours have gone by and you're still waiting for the toy to hit the ground, present him with a tasty treat or another toy as an incentive.
- Then as soon as your dog drops the toy, pick it up and do it all over again.
This is a great trick to teach your dog how to shut doors on his own:
- Situate your dog and yourself in a room where the door closes when pushed towards the doorjamb. (Make sure it isn't a swinging door.)
- Position the door to be only three inches open.
- Hold a treat up against the door, at the height of your dog's nose.
- Tell your dog to come.
- As he rushes over to claim his reward, lift the treat up and away just before he reaches it, so his nose bumps against the door and it gets pushed forward a little.
- As he comes in contact with the door, say, "DOOR," then praise him.
- If he doesn't touch the door, don't reward him; just repeat the exercise until he accidentally does.
- Have him push the door further and further, until it actually shuts. With consistent practice and patience, he'll soon be slamming doors shut right and left.
If you should come across any specific problems during any of these training exercises, talk to your dog's vet or with other dog owners (the ones with the obedient dogs). Or, check out some dog training discussion forums on-line.
Your dog is now ready for Ivy League admission. And now that you've been trained in how to train a dog, reread these steps at least twice and help yourself to your favorite treat.