No matter what age your dog is, he or she can benefit from learning new tricks. Not only does it give their brain a good work out, but it also provides you and your dog with bonding time. Dogs love social communication between themselves and their owners, so teaching your dog new tricks throughout his lifetime is a great way to continually bond with your dog.
Before training your dog you need dog treats. You will have a much easier time teaching your dog new tricks if you have treats. Small treats are the best to use for a few reasons. First, you do not want to over feed your dog with treats, that would not be healthy at all. Also, small treats are eaten quickly so your dog will not lose focus on the task at hand. You should also use treats that your dog is excited to eat. Peanut butter dog treats and pork flavored dog treats are flavors your dog will love. Tiny treats that my dog loves are Mini Grahams Dog Cookies – 8 oz, shown to the right. The Mini Grahams Dog Cookies – 8 oz are great to use when training your dog because they are made of wholesome graham.
When using treats, you need to make sure that you are using them as a reward instead of a bribe. Let me explain the difference. A reward is when you give your dog a treat after she displays the behavior you are teaching her too. A bribe is when your dog will not do a trick that she can do easily unless you give her a treat. For example, if your dog will only “sit” AFTER you give her a treat, that is a bribe and is a misuse of treats.
Another thing to remember when using treats as a reward is to keep the treat out of your dog’s sight when she is learning a new trick. Although you will reward her with the treat once she successfully completes the behavior, you do not want her to only do the trick for the treat. You want your dog to be motivated to do a behavior because she sees your hand motions telling her to do the trick, not because she sees a treat. Once your dog can complete the behavior consistently, start rewarding her with treats less and less. You can not stop giving her treats altogether, but instead of giving her treats each time she does the behavior you can reward her with a belly rub or a toy.
However, treats alone will not teach your dog new tricks. You will also need to use positive reinforcement. Praise and petting works well in this regard. And of course will need to have lots of patience!