Why Trick Training Your Dog is More Than Just Having Fun

The most obvious benefit of trick training your dog is the sheer enjoyment it brings to both you and your pup. After all, who doesn’t love showing off their beloved pet’s tricks in front of adoring friends and family? However, there is more to trick training than just showing off how your dog can dance, sit pretty, or high-five your friends. Trick training is a great way to strengthen your bond with your dog in new and exciting ways. It also engages your dog mentally and physically and can truly make both you and your pup feel confident and closer together than ever before!

Why Trick Train?

Here are four reasons to consider trick training with your dog:

  1. Mental Stimulation. Engaging your dog’s brain can prevent boredom, reduce destructive behaviors, and promote overall mental well-being.
  2. Physical Exercise. Many tricks require your dog to move their body in specific ways, promoting flexibility, coordination, and muscle strength. It’s a great addition to your dog’s daily walk or play routine, and can be especially beneficial on days when a daily walk just isn’t enough (or isn’t possible)
  3. Confidence Boost. As your dog conquers increasingly complex tasks, they become more self-assured and eager to learn. This confidence can positively impact your dog’s behavior in various situations, from encounters with other animals to navigating unfamiliar environments.
  4. Strengthening the Bond. Working as a team with your dog establishes trust and communication, deepening your connection. You and your dog’s overall relationship will improve. This sense of partnership can carry over into other aspects of your relationship, enhancing obedience and cooperation in everyday situations.

One of the best ways to introduce your dog to trick training is by taking a group class, like the ones we offer here. We are currently offering Circus Dog, a class for basic training grads that incorporates tricks with a fun circus theme. Or you can work on tricks on your own at home!

Paws Up!

Here’s a fun and easy trick you can try at home. It’s called ‘paws up’!

Paws up is when your dog moves towards an elevated surface on cue and places both front paws on it. It’s a useful trick to have in your dog’s repertoire for several reasons:

• It helps dogs of all ages with body awareness as well as brain and body coordination.
• ‘Paws up’ socializes puppies and dogs to novel objects and builds confidence through fun training.
• It also adds a new “trick” to your tool box to use in many scenarios.

What you need before you start

• A stable platform or object no taller than your dog’s knees. Suggested objects to start with include a short step stool, hardcover book, or large upside down food bowl.
• Lots of treats for luring and rewarding! 

Dog standing on a platform in front of a circus backdrop.

Ready to Begin?

Step 1: Place several treats on top of the platform and let your dog investigate and eat the treats.

Step 2: Once your dog is comfortable approaching and being next to the platform, hold a treat to their nose and slowly move it over the top of the surface. Keep moving the treat slowly in the same direction until your dog stretches their neck to reach for it or they put one or two feet on the platform. Reward with a treat!

Step 3: Keep repeating and rewarding for step 2 until your dog confidently and consistently starts putting both front paws on the platform.

Step 4: Now add the verbal cue “paws up” before luring your dog onto the platform. You can also add duration to this trick by waiting for longer and longer periods of time before rewarding your dog. Start with just a few seconds and build up 5 seconds at a time.

Have fun and let us know how trick training your dog goes! Send us photos of your dog showing off ‘paws up’! You can email them to us at training@animalwelfaresociety.org or tag @AWSCanineTraining on your favorite social media page!