Dogs: they’re cute, cuddly and doggone smart! We all know that dogs can be trained to complete simple commands like “sit” and “stay.” But did you know that they can also be trained to fetch diapers and serve drinks from the fridge? Dogs can even be trained to sniff out bed bugs. Here are some of the most bizarre skills you should be teaching your dog:
1. Talk or Hush
Want your dog to bark, sneeze or howl on command? Here’s how:
Let’s say you want “speak” to be acknowledged with a bark. Every time your dog barks, say the “speak” command and give him a treat.
The same can be done to quiet your dog amidst a barking spell. Just do the opposite: reward your dog with a treat and say your command (“hush,” for example) when it stops barking.
2. Stand on Hind Legs
Walking on hind legs is easier for small breeds, as larger dogs can get tired from carrying all that weight. Regardless, it’s not hard to teach a dog to stand. All you need to do is get your dog to sit upright.
Hold a treat just above its nose. When it begins to rise up for the treat, say “up” and pull the treat higher. When it’s balanced on its legs, give your dog the treat.
Once your dog can stand on command, train him to boogie. Get your dog up on his hind legs and pull the treat higher into the air. This will force your dog to jump around on its back legs, looking very much like a dancer.
Give your dog the treat when the trick has been achieved and you’ve said your “dance” command in a timely manner. If your dog gets very comfortable with this, you can even grab his front paws to position yourselves as dance partners. Talk about a bonding experience!
Training your dog to steer the skateboard may be a bit out of reach (although it’s not impossible). You can, however, get your pooch up on the board for a short ride. Here’s how:
First, you want your dog to feel comfortable on the skateboard. Place the board in a stationary position, held in place by sand bags or something similar. Each time your dog gets on the skateboard, give him a treat.
Next, put your dog’s front paws up on the back of the board. Give him a treat and verbal praise every time this is done. When he finally associates putting his legs on the back of the board with getting a treat, pull the treat up and forward in order to get him to leap up onto the board. Remove the sand bags and relocate the board to a more mobile location (carpet is a good surface to start on) and continue to give treats for this behavior. Eventually, your dog will be able to propel the board forward as it kicks off and skate down the hall or driveway.
5. Back Up
“Back up” can be a useful trick for many reasons. Want him to stop crowding you at the front door or refrigerator, for example?
Place items like pillows or boxes on the floor. Use treats to get your dog to walk backward into the props. When he does this, say your command, reward him with the treat and tell him how good he is! When this becomes learned behavior, remove the props and continue to utilize your command.
6. Clean up the Floor
Get your dog to help with household chores. He can start by eliminating clutter from your floor. Let’s take dirty laundry, for example. You can train him to pick it up and drop it in a basket.
Start by getting your dog to drop something in basket — a toy is a great beginner object. Hold the container under his mouth when the toy is between his teeth. Give him the “drop” command and reward him with a treat.
Once he understands that, toss the toy onto the floor and give a new retrieval command. When he fetches his toy, reward him with another treat. Then, get him to get two toys in a row – using the same command. Continue giving treats as he accomplishes these behaviors. Eventually, switch out his toy for laundry and use the commands to have him collect your dirty shirts and socks!
7. Fetch the Newspaper
This trick requires the skills used in cleaning the floor. Teach your dog to pick up and drop items, then lead him out to the driveway. Give these commands for the newspaper specifically, but also include a new “fetch paper” command. Reward him with a treat upon completion. Eventually, your dog will know “fetch paper” without the initial pick up and drop commands.
8. Play Dead
Does your dog already know “lie down” and “roll over?” If so, you can train your pooch to play dead on command.
Start by giving your “play dead” command – loudly. Then, give the familiar commands to lie down and roll over. Reward him with a treat. Repeat that, but put your hand on your dog’s stomach when he’s mid-roll.
Reward him with another treat. Finally, try doing this without giving the commands to lie and roll. Only use a loud “play dead,” and he should roll onto his back and stay there. Take your time and give ample treats to make this as believable as possible.
9. Be Shy
Your dog can be happy, energetic and sometimes angry. Want to add bashful to the list? Here’s how:
Place a post-it note on your pup’s forehead. When he goes to knock it down with his paw, give your “shy” command and give him a treat. Eventually, your dog won’t need the post-it note to prompt the upward-facing eyes or paw-covering-his-face movement.
10. Open the Door
Tired of having to open the door for your dog every five seconds? Train him to open it himself!
Wrap a cloth or bandana around your doorknob. Encourage your dog to interact with it and give him a treat when he does. Also reward treats for pushing or nudging the door. When your dog combines both of these behaviors, offer an ecstatic “good boy!” and toss him a treat.
With tricks like these, you won’t be able to differentiate your dog from your human relatives. Get started training your pooch today and enjoy free, live entertainment on command!
Kayla Matthews is a pet-loving productivity blogger with a passion for animals and especially big dogs! To read more articles by Kayla you can follow her on Google+ and Twitter, or at ProductivityTheory.com.