Even though the purpose of this blog is to discuss difficult dog behavior, people are constantly asking me how I teach my dogs tricks. So the purpose of this week’s post is to give you some pointers when you want to bond with your dog by teaching him tricks.

~You must treat your dog (either with food, a toy, or affection) as they begin to do the trick properly. The key to teaching tricks is timing.

~Be creative. If your dog can’t figure out what “sit” means, try lifting your treat-filled hand up instead of forcing his rear-end down. Remember you’re trying to communicate a new concept to your dog.

~ Catch your dog doing the trick throughout the day and say “lay down, good boy” or “shake off, good boy” so that they learn to associate the word with the action.

~Stay positive. Keep it upbeat. Teaching tricks is a game for you and your dog to play together.

~If your dog gets really excited about learning tricks and getting treats, stay calm, keep your voice quiet. But if your dog is a shy one who doesn’t really care if he learns how to sit or not, you need to go overboard with excitement to get him into it. Give kibble as treats to dogs who get really stimulated around food to keep them focused and use cooked chicken if your dog doesn’t really go for tricks to get him more excited.

Lastly, don’t rely primarily on words to communicate with your dog; energy and body language will be much more natural for your dog to understand. Lead your dog!