What Tricks Can I Train My Dog? (12 Fun Dog Tricks to Try Next.)

This expert guide features step-by-step instructions for a dozen different tricks you can teach your dog.

What tricks can I train my dog?
What tricks can I train my dog? Photo: christingasner

When I was a kid, I was in love with Border Collies. Since I didn’t live on hundreds of acres and didn’t have any sheep, I assumed that I would never be able to meet a Border Collie’s needs.

Fast-forward a few years and Mack, a 1-year-old Border Collie, came to live with me. I had learned that you could meet most high-drive dogs’ needs by stimulating them mentally through training. Even though we lived on less than an acre, Mack was happy.

I spent time every day teaching him new commands and tricks — in addition to taking him on walks and occasional hikes. After a couple of years, Mack had mastered almost 100 different commands and dog tricks.

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Why Teach Your Dog Tricks?

Tricks are among the most fun things you can do with your dog. There are so many wonderful things about dog tricks:

  • They stimulate your dog mentally.
  • They help you and your dog bond.
  • They increase your dog’s ability to learn new things.
  • They can be practical and useful.
  • They help you communicate with your dog.
  • They can bring smiles and laughs.
  • It’s fun to teach your dog tricks.
  • They can build the trainer and dog’s confidence.
  • They give your dog a sense of purpose.
  • They wear your dog out and relieve boredom.

What Tricks Can I Train My Dog?

When you teach your dog tricks, you will probably discover that training gets easier the more you do it.

Your dog’s ability to learn and pay attention will improve as they practice — and your ability to communicate with your dog will improve as you practice. You’ll even be able to do more complex tricks by combining the simpler tricks that you have already taught your dog.

Whether your dog already knows 50 tricks or you’re just getting started, if you have ever asked, “What tricks can I train my dog?” then this guide should spark some ideas for you!

In this expert guide to 12 tricks you can train your dog, we’ll cover:

Easy Dog Tricks for Beginners:

  • Trick #1: “Give It a Kiss”
  • Trick #2: “Place”
  • Trick #3: “Spin”
  • Trick #4: “Touch”

Unique Tricks to Teach Your Dog:

  • Trick #5: “Close the Door”
  • Trick #6: “Hit the Deck”
  • Trick #7: “Sock”
  • Trick #8: “Yawn”

Tricks to Teach Your Dog Without a Clicker:

  • Trick #9: “Back Up”
  • Trick #10: “Say Your Prayers”
  • Trick #11: “Speak” and “Quiet”
  • Trick #12: “Stop”

Easy Dog Tricks for Beginners

Tricks build on one another. You can combine easy “Hold” and “Pull” and “Fetch” tricks into “Get Me a Drink” — where your dog goes into the kitchen, opens the refrigerator and brings you a bottle.

If you’re wondering, “What is the easiest trick to teach a dog?” then here’s my suggestion: “Touch.”

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I think “Touch” is the easiest trick to teach a dog, but there are a few close runners-up, though.

Don’t underestimate the power of starting small. Check out this fun and easy dog trick list, and give them a go with your pup:

  • “Give It a Kiss”
  • “Place”
  • “Spin”
  • “Touch”

Dog Trick #1: “Give It a Kiss”

Why this trick is awesome: This is not only a cute trick, but it’s also a fun way to get your dog to kiss someone, to lick a popsicle made from dog-friendly ingredients, or to demonstrate how much self-control your dog has.

Difficulty level: 2/10 (very easy)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Give It a Kiss”

  1. Choose a treat that your dog loves.
  2. Call your dog over to you.
  3. Tell them, “Give it a kiss” and hold a treat in front of their mouth for them to lick. Hold onto the treat tightly so they don't eat it.
  4. While they are licking it, praise them and encourage them to continue licking it.
  5. If they start to bite it, pull the treat away.
  6. After withholding the treat for 3 seconds, hold the treat toward them again and tell them, “Give it a kiss” again.
  7. Repeat holding the treat toward them for them to lick and pulling it away whenever they bite it. Do this until they stop trying to bite the treat and only lick it.
  8. When they no longer try to bite the treat, say, “Take it” and open your hand up all the way for them to eat the treat out of it.

Dog Trick #2: “Place”

Why this trick is awesome: This is a fun trick for showing off your dog’s obedience. You can also use this as part of another trick, such as having your dog stand on a box while you toss them toys or treats.

Difficulty level: 1/10 (very easy)

How to Teach Your Dog “Place”

  1. Set up a “place” for your dog, such as a dog bed, mat or towel. Choose something they can fit their entire body on while standing and lying down.
  2. Attach a 4- or 6-foot leash to your dog’s collar or harness.
  3. Grab some treats and lead your dog over to their place with the leash.
  4. As soon as your dog steps at least 2 paws onto their place, praise them and toss a treat onto the place.
  5. After they eat the treats, tell them, “OK!” and encourage them to get off the place.
  6. Repeat walking them toward the place and praising and rewarding them as soon as they step onto it. Do this until your dog starts to move onto the place before you lead them all the way to it.
  7. When your dog starts to walk onto the place on their own, drop the leash while you’re still a couple of feet away from the place. Praise your dog and toss treats onto the place when they move onto it on their own.
  8. When your dog learns how to go to their place on their own from a couple of feet away, over time, practice dropping the leash while your dog is farther and farther away from their place — so that they walk to the place on their own.
  9. Practice the trick until you can send your dog to their place from across the room without a leash on.

Dog Trick #3: “Spin”

Why this trick is awesome: This trick is wonderful as part of a canine dance routine — which could include other tricks like “Dance” and “Back Up.”

Difficulty level: 1/10 (very easy)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Spin”

  1. Go somewhere spacious and call your dog over to you.
  2. Touch a treat to your dog’s nose, tell them to “Spin” and slowly move the treat toward their tail, making a wide circle. Go slow enough for your pup to stay interested in the treat and follow it.
  3. When your dog does a half-circle, praise them and give them the treat.
  4. Practice the half-circle until they consistently follow the treat.
  5. Next, while your dog is following the treat, keep moving the treat toward their tail until they do a full circle.
  6. When your dog does the full circle, praise them enthusiastically and give them the treat!
  7. Practice this until your dog can easily spin while following the treat.
  8. When your dog can easily spin while following, put the treat in your other hand and pretend like you still have a treat in the hand that your dog has been following.
  9. Hold your hand against your dog’s nose and move your empty hand toward their tail while they spin — as you did before when you had the treat.
  10. When your dog completes the spin, praise them and feed them the treat from your other hand.
  11. Practice this until your dog follows your hand motion easily without the treat to follow.
  12. When your dog will follow your hand motion and the “Spin” command, gradually raise your hand higher and higher during practice. Do this until you can make the spin motion with your hand above your dog while you are standing upright, and your dog will spin around.
  13. To teach left and right directions, command “Spin right” or “Spin left” and lure your dog with a treat and your hand motion toward the correct clockwise or counterclockwise direction. When they complete the right or left spin, praise them and give them the treat.

Dog Trick #4: “Touch”

Why this trick is awesome: “Touch” is especially great for shy dogs. You can use this trick to help your dog get used to people — have your dog touch a new person’s hand and earn a treat.

Difficulty level: 1/10 (very easy)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Touch”

  1. Arm yourself with several small treats or a bit of peanut butter (no xylitol; it's toxic).
  2. Call your dog over to you, holding the palm of your hand out toward them — like a stop sign.
  3. Say, "Touch," then hold a treat against your palm or dab a little peanut butter onto your palm and point to it.
  4. As soon as your dog touches your hand with their nose or mouth, praise them, let them eat the treat or peanut butter, and give them a second treat.
  5. Repeat showing your dog how to touch your hand and rewarding them when they touch it. Do this until they try to touch it whenever you show them your palm.
  6. When your pup wants to touch the palm of your hand whenever they see it, stop putting the treat or peanut butter on it and simply point to the palm of your hand instead.
  7. When your dog will touch the palm of your hand without food on it, praise and reward them with a treat from your other hand as soon as they touch it.
  8. Practice the trick until your dog readily touches your outstretched hand.

Unique Tricks to Teach Your Dog

Perhaps you’ve been training for a bit and need some new dog trick ideas, or you want to show your friends something cool that’s a bit more unique.

Here are 4 unique tricks that you can train your dog how to do:

  • “Close the Door”
  • “Hit the Deck”
  • “Sock”
  • “Yawn”

Dog Trick #5: “Close the Door”

Why this trick is awesome: This is an impressive trick! It can really come in handy when you have your hands full. And if you have limited mobility, this should definitely be on your list.

Difficulty level: 5/10 (moderate difficulty)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Close the Door”

  1. Grab some treats and peanut butter (no xylitol) and go to a door in your home — nothing too heavy at first.
  2. Put a small dot of peanut butter on the door at your dog’s nose level and call your dog over to you.
  3. When your dog arrives, point to the peanut butter and say, “Close the door.” If they don’t see the dot, add a little more peanut butter.
  4. As soon as they touch the door to lick the peanut butter off it, praise them and give them a treat.
  5. Repeat the training with the peanut butter until they immediately go to the door as soon as you start to move your hand toward it to point, or you say, “Close the door” without pointing.
  6. When your dog is eager to touch the door, stop putting peanut butter on it and simply point to where the peanut butter used to be while saying, “Close the door.”
  7. When your dog touches or tries to lick the door, praise them and give them a treat or a lick of peanut butter.
  8. Practice having your dog touch the door and rewarding the touches.
  9. When your dog is doing well touching the door without the peanut butter on it, give your dog a treat only when they make the door move a bit. Continue to praise them whenever they touch the door, though.
  10. As your dog improves, require them to push the door more and more before you give them a treat. Do this until they can close the door all the way to earn their reward.

Dog Trick #6: “Hit the Deck”

Why this trick is awesome: You can use this funny dog trick as part of a joke or an act. You can also use a different cue word instead of “Hit the deck,” such as “Bath” or “Cat,” to make it look like your dog is hiding from something.

Difficulty level: 5/10 (moderate difficulty)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Hit the Deck”

  1. Choose a table or piece of furniture that is tall enough for your dog to crawl underneath — make sure your dog isn’t afraid of something in that space.
  2. Grab several treats that are large enough for your dog to see them when you toss them, then call your dog over to you.
  3. Show your dog the treat, tell them to “Hit the deck,” and toss the treat next to the piece of furniture, so that your dog must duck a little to reach the treat.
  4. Practice the command by tossing the treats next to the furniture, until your dog begins to expect the treats to fall there.
  5. Next, tell your dog, “Hit the deck,” but this time toss the treat under the furniture so that your dog’s entire front half of their body must go under the piece of furniture for them to reach the treat.
  6. As your dog gets comfortable going underneath the piece of furniture to follow the treat, gradually toss the treat farther and farther underneath the furniture over time. Praise your dog when they crawl under the furniture to get it.
  7. When your dog will eagerly crawl under the furniture as soon as you start to toss the treat, move the treat to your non-throwing hand, and pretend to throw a treat while saying, “Hit the deck.”
  8. If your dog goes under the furniture in search of the imaginary treat, praise them and toss them 3 treats while they are under there.
  9. If they do not go under the furniture when you pretend to toss a treat, toss an actual treat under the table and practice with real treats for longer before you try the trick without the treat toss again.
  10. Practice the trick without tossing the initial treat until your dog will consistently go under the table before you reward them with a treat.

Dog Trick #7: “Sock”

Why this trick is awesome: Besides being a cute dog trick, “Sock” can also be helpful if you have less strength or dexterity in your hands or have trouble bending over.

Difficulty level: 3/10 (easy)

How to Teach Your Dog to Take Off Your Sock

  1. Grab some treats and an old sock that fits you a bit loosely.
  2. Call your dog over to you, tell them, “Sock,” and encourage them to bite and tug on the sock by wiggling it around with your hand and tossing it.
  3. When your dog is excited about the sock and playing with it, put the sock on your foot but leave three-fourths of the sock dangling off the end of your foot.
  4. Wiggle the sock that’s on your foot in front of your dog and excitedly tell them, “Sock!”
  5. When your dog grabs the sock, wiggle your foot so that the sock comes off your foot.
  6. As soon as the sock comes off, praise your dog enthusiastically and give them a treat — hide the remaining treats, though, so your dog doesn’t forget about the sock while the food is present.
  7. Practice putting the sock partially on your foot and rewarding your dog for pulling it off on cue. Do this until they easily pull the sock off every time.
  8. When your dog can pull the sock off consistently, over time, pull the sock up higher on your foot so that less of it is dangling off.
  9. Practice with the sock until your dog can pull the sock off your foot while you are wearing it normally (fully covering your foot).

Dog Trick #8: “Yawn”

Why this trick is awesome: Try out this trick as part of a comedy bit. You can also use a different cue word in place of “Yawn,” such as “Are you tired?” or “Am I boring you?” — making it look like your dog is tired or bored when you ask them a question.

Difficulty level: 7/10 (difficult; requires catching your dog yawning on their own, so you will need good timing and a lot of patience)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Yawn” on Command

  1. Place treats into a small plastic bag in your pocket or attach a treat pouch to yourself — this way, you can keep treats handy whenever you are with your dog.
  2. Whenever your dog yawns on their own, quickly tell them “Yawn” and offer them a treat.
  3. To increase the frequency of their yawning, have training sessions where you work on challenging commands or tricks – the challenge of learning something new will often cause a dog to yawn.
  4. Catch and reward your dog for yawning on their own at least 30 times.
  5. After you have caught your dog yawning at least 30 times, tell them to “Yawn” and watch their response. Repeat this up to 5 times, waiting 10 seconds between each command to see if they will do the trick.
  6. If your dog yawns on cue, they have learned the trick. Praise and reward them! Practice the trick often to help them get good at doing it.
  7. If your dog does not yawn, even after 5 repetitions of the command, go back to catching them yawning on their own for longer.
  8. Retest whether or not your dog has learned the command and will respond to the“Yawn” cue, every 10th time you catch them yawning. Do this until they yawn when they are told to do so.

Tricks to Teach Your Dog Without a Clicker

Although you can teach most dog tricks without a clicker by praising your dog at the correct time, some tricks are easier to teach when you use one.

Clickers are good tools for communicating to your dog that they got something right at the exact moment they did it correctly.

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Have a look at this list of fun tricks that you can train your dog without a clicker:

  • “Back Up”
  • “Say Your Prayers”
  • “Speak” and “Quiet”
  • “Stop”

Dog Trick #9: “Back Up”

Why this trick is awesome: Use this one as part of a canine dance routine or an act. A trick like this one also comes in handy in everyday life — use “Back Up” to tell your dog where to go in tight spaces.

Difficulty level: 4/10 (moderate difficulty)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Back Up”

  1. Go somewhere that is wide enough only for your dog to stand facing one direction, without being able to turn around easily. You can set up 2 lines of chairs if you don’t have such a location.
  2. Grab some treats and call your dog over to you, so your dog is facing you in the narrow space.
  3. Say, “Back up” and walk toward the dog slowly.
  4. As soon as your dog takes a step backward, stop walking forward, praise them and give them a treat.
  5. Move back to your original spot and coax your dog toward you again. Once your dog is back to where they started, repeat your “Back up” command and walking toward them again.
  6. Practice walking toward your dog to get them to back up until your dog can back up when they are told “Back up” without you moving toward them.
  7. When your dog can consistently back up without you walking toward them, go to a location that is twice as wide, or move your chairs farther apart.
  8. Practice your “Back up” command in the new location that has more space, until your dog can back up consistently there too.
  9. If your dog struggles to back up in the new space, reward them by taking a couple of steps toward them, or make the space slightly smaller again and practice in a smaller space for longer before moving on.
  10. As your dog improves, gradually move on to wider and wider locations until your dog no longer needs the chairs or narrow space to be able to back up on cue.

Dog Trick #10: “Say Your Prayers”

Why this trick is awesome: What an adorable and funny trick to teach! This tends to get a lot of laughter and smiles. You can make this trick even better by teaching your dog to say their prayers when they see you kneel down to pray.

Difficulty level: 5/10 (moderate difficulty)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Say Your Prayers”

  1. Choose a piece of furniture that is at your dog’s chest or neck height when they are standing normally on all 4 paws.
  2. Grab some treats and call your dog over to the furniture.
  3. Tell your dog, “Say your prayers” and drop a couple of treats onto the piece of furniture, far enough away that your dog has to put their front paws on the furniture to reach it.
  4. Tap the food and encourage your dog to get it to let them know that it is all right for them to put their paws on the furniture.
  5. As soon as your dog touches the furniture with both paws, praise them and offer them an additional treat.
  6. If your dog holds that position, give additional treats every 5 seconds.
  7. When your dog will readily put both paws on the furniture and hold that position, hold a treat in your hand and raise it through the opening between your dog’s front legs, toward their nose.
  8. When your dog begins to sniff the treat, slowly lower your arm back down so that your dog’s muzzle moves into the gap between their front legs.
  9. Praise your dog and give them the treat as soon as their muzzle starts to move between their legs.
  10. If your dog moves off the furniture while trying to get the treat, pull the treat away and get them back into position before continuing.
  11. When your dog will consistently hold their paws on the furniture and move their muzzle between their legs to get the treat when you say, “Say your prayers,” lower the treat through your dog’s legs even more so your dog’s entire muzzle is tucked between their front legs — in the praying position.
  12. Praise and reward your dog right when they get into the correct praying position.
  13. When your dog will consistently move their muzzle between their legs, simply hold the treat under their legs — without moving it up to their nose first.
  14. Next, phase out the treat entirely. Put the treat into your other hand — out of your dog’s view. Put your empty hand below your dog’s front legs and tell them to “Say your prayers.”
  15. As soon as your dog’s muzzle moves in-between their front legs, praise them and give them the treat from your other, hidden hand.
  16. As your dog improves, gradually move your empty hand farther and farther away from your dog. Do this until your dog can do the trick without your hand in sight, when they hear the command “Say your prayers.”

Dog Trick #11: “Speak” and “Quiet”

Why this trick is awesome: “Speak” and “Quiet” are 2 of the most common tricks to teach. You can also use a different cue word in place of “Speak,” such as “Bath,” to make it look like your dog hates baths. “Quiet” tells your dog when to stop barking after “Speak,” but you can use it for other types of barking and behavior training, too.

Difficulty level: 3/10 (easy)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Speak” and “Quiet”

  1. Recruit an assistant to come to your front door.
  2. Grab lots of treats and instruct your assistant to knock on the door until they hear your dog bark then stop knocking until you motion to them to start knocking again.
  3. Right before your assistant knocks, tell your dog, “Speak!” in an excited tone of voice.
  4. When your dog barks when they hear someone at the door, praise them and give them a treat.
  5. When the knocking stops, tell your dog, “Quiet” in a soft and soothing tone of voice — get close to them, on their level, if they are struggling to calm back down.
  6. When your dog gets quiet for even a couple of seconds, praise them and give them a treat.
  7. Once your dog is quiet and has eaten their treat, motion to your assistant to knock again while you tell your dog “Speak” once more.
  8. Praise and reward your dog for barking when they hear the knock. Practice “Quiet” after the knocking stops.
  9. Practice “Quiet” and “Speak” at least 20 times.
  10. After 20 repetitions of “Quiet” and “Speak,” tell your dog to speak when no one is knocking. If they bark, praise them and reward them with a treat.
  11. When your dog can speak on command without the knocking to trigger it, practice both “Speak” and “Quiet” at normal times during the day, without a noise to trigger the barking.

Dog Trick #12: “Stop”

Why this trick is awesome: This is funny when used in the middle of a series of tricks to get your dog to freeze. “Stop” can also be useful when your dog is overly excited and needs to calm back down or stop playing suddenly.

Difficulty level: 4/10 (moderate difficulty)

How to Teach Your Dog to “Stop”

  1. Grab your dog’s normal, non-retractable leash and several treats.
  2. With your dog, go to a spacious area that is securely enclosed — such as a fenced-in yard or living area.
  3. Begin walking forward with your dog at your side.
  4. Tell your dog, “Stop!” and quickly move in front of them, turning toward them as you do so — so that they must stop suddenly while in the standing position.
  5. Praise and reward your dog when they stop.
  6. After your dog eats their treat, tell them, “OK!” and continue walking with them at your side.
  7. After a few steps, repeat your “Stop!” command and quickly move in front of them. Praise and reward them again when they stop.
  8. Repeat walking with your dog and telling your dog to stop. Do this until your dog starts to respond to your “Stop!” command quickly and freezes before you can move in front of them completely.
  9. When your dog will freeze immediately when they are told to stop, walk forward again, but this time drop the leash when you say “Stop” and do not move in front of your dog — stand where you are.
  10. If your dog stops even though you are not in front of them, praise them and give them a treat. Practice this until your dog can consistently stop when you tell them to.
  11. When your dog can stop on cue without you in front of them, keep walking forward when you tell your dog, “Stop!” If they stop, praise and reward them. If they follow you, quickly move in front of them to remind them what they should do.
  12. Practice until your dog can stop while you keep moving.
  13. When your dog can stop while you keep moving forward, practice the command while your dog is walking alone and you are a few feet away.
  14. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog as your dog gets better at the trick. Do this until your dog can freeze from several feet away when you tell them, “Stop.”

Final Thoughts

To sum up this guide to 12 tricks you can train your dog, remember this:

  • Start small.
  • Have fun.
  • Reward your dog along the way.

As your dog learns more, it will become easier to teach them more complex tricks.

If your dog gets frustrated, break the trick down into even simpler steps, reward them for small successes and attempts, and end your session on a positive note — then come back to the training later.

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