New Year, New Tricks! 4 Tricks to Teach Your Dog in January

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on January 7th, 2021

Finding new tricks to teach your dog is a great way to start the new year! Not only will your pup love the bonding opportunity, but you’ll also appreciate a few indoor activities for when that January chill keeps you inside.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional trainer with these 4 fun tricks to teach your dog.

Get a handful of treats, or your trusty training clicker, and jump in!

#1: Fancy Fetch
Your dog may be well-versed in fetching their favorite frisbee, but what if they could bring you items by name? For this fun trick, we can find inspiration from Chaser, the super smart Border Collie who learned to retrieve up to 1,000 different toys on command! You doggo may not remember that many, but they can certainly learn to fetch a few items before February.

Here’s how it works. You’ll first teach your pup to associate their toys with a specific word. Starting with one toy, you’ll say the name of the toy every time they pick it up. And, when they bring you the toy, repeat the name while giving them a treat.

Don’t give your pup a treat if they bring you a toy other than the one you’ve called for! This will allow them to associate specific items with specific words. Once they’ve mastered the first item, you can follow the same process with their other toys.

The first two items will be the slowest to learn, but from there, your dog will understand the task and quickly learn new words!

#2: Clean Up
Now that your dog has learned to retrieve specific items, you can teach them to put those toys away again!

For this trick, you’ll need a dedicated basket, preferably shallow and wide, where your dog can deposit their toys. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to have the basket in the middle of the floor. Later, you can place the basket in a more permanent place.

Now, this trick hinges on your dog’s ability to drop on command, so you’ll want to start there. With the box or basket in between you and your pup, give your dog a toy so that they are holding it over the basket. Keep their attention by offering a treat or another toy.

As soon as they drop the toy in their mouth to take the treat or second toy, say “drop” and give them plenty of praise. As your dog gets the hang of this command, you can start tossing the toy away from the basket and saying “clean up” as they make their way back to the basket.

Eventually, they’ll learn that “clean up” means they’ll get a treat or enthusiastic cheer when they drop their toys in the basket.

We love that this trick is a two-for-one. Your dog will get better at the “drop” command and learn how to put their toys away in a specific place!

This is also a great trick for puppers who tend to leave their toys at the dog park or don’t want to go back to the car when it’s time to go. Simply place a toy basket in the backseat and use the “clean up” command to let your pup know it’s time to earn a treat! They’ll be much happier about getting back in the car.

And, to keep those toys—and your dog safe—make sure to install a set of BreezeGuard Screens! They’ll prevent your pup from sticking their head out the window and accidentally dropping their favorite toys.

#3: Trainer’s Tango
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to dance for this one. Instead, you’ll teach your dog to sync their steps up with yours to make it look like you’re tango partners! You can think of this as an advanced version of the “heel” command. When you step, they step. When you stop, they stop.

Teaching this one will take a lot of repetition and patience as your dog learns two commands: “right step” and “left step.” To start, have your pup stand calmly at your side. Then, move your right foot forward and say “right step.” If your dog also steps forward with their right paw, give them a treat and plenty of praise. The tricky part will be to convince your pup to stop moving after that first step. You may need to return to the initial stance several times.

Then, with your dog in the same starting position, you’ll do the same process with your left foot. Once your pup has mastered both, you can start putting the two commands together by slowly—very slowly!—walking forward. You’ll want to reward or praise your pup with every step. All that’s left is to put on some dramatic tango music and start dancing!

Check out this video for some inspiration!

#4: Take a Bow
So far, your pup has learned vocabulary, tidied their toys and even become a dancer! It’s time for your talented dog to take a bow.

This one will start in the standing position, and you’ll want to reward your pup with a treat when they’re able to stay still with their feet squared. From there, hold a treat to their nose and lower it a few inches so that they have to stoop slightly to follow the treat. You don’t want this to be too dramatic of a motion; otherwise, your pup may lie down. Instead, give them the treat when they’ve just slightly dipped their front shoulders.

Repeat this several times, being careful not to release the treat if your dog lies down completely. They should only get the reward for lowering their front body to the ground while keeping their back legs straight. Once your pup has achieved this, you can introduce the command, “take a bow.”

And that’s the end of the show! Your dog will love the chance to learn some new tricks, and you’ll both benefit from the extra bonding time this year!

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