We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. While it is not impossible to teach older dogs something new, starting with solid training during puppy years will make the process a whole lot easier and ensure your pet has the foundations of how to behave from the outset. Whether you would like to have your pet trained professionally, do it yourself using treats, or a combination of treats and clicker training, there are a number of tricks that can be taught to your pet to ensure harmony (and possibly a little entertainment) in your household.
One of the most important things you will want to teach your pet is to pay attention to you when it is required – no matter what happens to be going on around you both. Not only is this essential in order to be able to teach your dog anything else, it can also be handy in potentially dangerous situations where you need your pet to stop and come to you quickly.
To start off with, you will need to reward even slight movements of the head in your direction when you call their name. Eventually you will get to a point where your pet recognises their name and what it is you are expecting.
And oldie but a goodie and an essential on the “must teach your dog” list. Teaching your dog to sit is one of the first tricks you are mostly likely to teach your pet and is so important as a foundation to a well-behaved dog. This trick comes in handy while out walking and stopping at traffic lights, as well as getting them to calm down when they get a little too excitable – especially around people who are not used to animal attention.
Find an object such as a toy and place it on the ground. Once you tell your dog to ‘take it’ reward each time they look or edge toward the toy until they realise you want them to pick it up. This is a good stepping stone to things like fetch, where they find objects they really enjoy enough to chase after them.
Bring it over/drop it
There is no point playing fetch if your pet refuses to give up what they have retrieved. Teaching a dog to bring an object over or drop it is also handy for those valuable items they shouldn’t have in their wet mouths.
While this is no way an exhaustive list, these simple tricks are essential to ensure a well-behaved pooch. Get these down pat and then venture out into things that are little more creative such as shake hands, speak and dance.