We have been lucky to work with some of the most talented trick dogs and trainers in the world while filming our TV series and working on the Talent Hounds Blog, YouTube Channel and live events. Here is a video of some of the amazing dogs performing in a Canadian Pet Expo Talent Hounds Show.
Kilo the Pug was two years old and only really knew “Sit” when I started fostering him. He had some behavioural issues which needed work. I found that teaching Kilo easy tricks (and more challenging ones) gave him mental and physical exercise and was a great positive way to bond with him and help correct issues.
We use treats and praise and keep training really fun for both of us. We usually do a few minutes a few times a day. We either shape and reward a behaviour he offers or lure him into a trick. Some tricks are quick to teach like “sit” and “paw”, others like lie down, wait and sit pretty took months. Some like roll over or walk on my feet he may never want to do.
I now redirect him to do tricks and show off what a talented boy he is when he meets new people in our house, and he bugs me at least twice a day to practise or try new things. He loves the attention and the rewards.
I have been using a few training aids from Brandon MacMillan including the Shake and Break and the which have been very helpful- see the post here. If you would like to try them check out our affiliate links : Brandon McMillan Shake & Break Training Tool by Petmate and Brandon McMillan Lure Stick Training Tool by Petmate.
Here is a video and list of our favorite first dog tricks to learn and links to simple tips and tutorials including videos. If Kilo and I can do it, you can too.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and watch the Blog for more tips and tales every Tuesday.
20 Easy Tricks to Teach Your Dog
Kilo loves sitting and it is one of the only tricks he can do from the word “Sit” remotely or with just a hand signal. I just raise a treat in front of him above his nose.
It is a foundation for many other tricks and very useful as an obedience behaviour if Kilo gets anxious or excited.
See details here.
Paw and Shake
“Paw” was one of the first tricks I taught Kilo and, like “Sit”, is a great foundation for many other tricks and poses.
With Wave, I taught Kilo by putting up my hand and saying “Paw” as above so he tried to touch it then moving my hand out of reach. As he tried to touch my moving hand, I said “Yes” and rewarded him. After quite a few successful tries, I named it “Wave” when I asked and rewarded.
Say your prayers
Kilo loves say your prayers. He puts both paws up on my arm using “Paw” then I hold a treat under his nose and my arm. I have not quite got him doing it without the treat yet. No pay, no play.
Hold a treat in your hand in a closed fist and get your dog to touch their nose on your hand then progress from there. Touch is a great foundation trick.
Lie down was very hard for Kilo. I got him in a sit then lured his head down but he would pop back up – I think he felt a bit threatened. Eventually I made a bridge with my legs sitting on the floor and lured him under almost in a crawl. Then he finally understood what I wanted and he now loves to lie down and offers it up very easily. Here is a video from our trainer and friend Gillian Ridgeway showing How to Teach Your Dog Lie Down and Stay.
Spin is one of Kilo’s favorite tricks. He naturally spins like a maniac before he gets his meals so I named that. However to get him to do it on command I lured him with a treat near his nose, both right and left.
Gradually I could move the treat further from his nose and now I just give a signal with a treat in my hand.
Tug and Drop
This is not really a trick except in the hilarious Woofjocks show but most dogs LOVE tugging, including Kilo. The hard bit is teaching them to “Drop” or “Leave It” or “Off”. I am still working on this by trading a treat.
Unroll the yoga mat
Kilo loves this trick. I taught him by hiding treats in the rolled up mat. The only trouble is he will now unroll anything he finds and search for treats LOL.
Speak on Command (or Bark or Sing or Count)
Louie The Boston Terrier of course could sing and inspired the Talent Hounds first film.
Trick Dog Sweetie the Jack Russell can count on command and sing. See her training post here.
I have not taught this to Kilo yet but it can be useful and cute. Basically you find a trigger then name and reward the action. The issue for me is Kilo goes crazy barking at the Mailman and the neighbor’s dog, but I do not want to reward that.
Walk or Jump on 2 feet
Kilo naturally dances for joy on two feet if there are treats. I put peanut butter on a wooden spoon or now use the Lure Stick and lure Kilo around. Occasionally he will do it with hand signals and a treat in my hand.
I tried to teach Kilo to weave both through my legs and through weave poles luring him with treats. I need a treat in each hand and to hand off as he is so greedy and impatient, he will try to snatch it when he gets excited and does a few. I don’t think we have a big future in canine freestyle.
Kilo and I often practise different fun dance moves. I lure him up or around with treats. However we will not be competing with the beautiful dance champs in our video like Hero, Linzy and Gwen Vernon. A lot of dancing involves other tricks like walking on 2 feet and weaving in time to music.
“Sit Pretty” is such a fun pose for photos but it can be challenging for dogs with long backs or big chests like Kilo the Pug. Make sure your dog has a strong core and be safe.
Here are 2 posts on teaching this trick.
The first features Kilo in How to train your puppy to sit pretty.
The second features trainer Taylor and her talented dogs Lottie and Grizzly. How to train your Dog to Sit Pretty.
I have tried to teach Kilo to roll over by having him lie down then holding a treat at his shoulder and moving it over but he HATES it. I think he might feel too vulnerable. He will roll on his back and let me tickle him playing on my bed or sofa but not on the floor doing the trick. Other experts make it look very easy.
This was a hard one for Kilo to learn but is so useful- we just said no wait with treats and took them away if he didn’t. He will wait if we put one on his nose but I have to hold another one in my other hand to distract him or he’ll snatch it. Rescue Noodles the Wonder Dog does an amazing wait and hold. So does Indica, another rescue from our Rescues Rock TV episode.
Close the Door
This was super easy to teach as I just held a treat in my hand next to an open cupboard door and said “Paw”. Now I just point to the open door and say close it and he rushes over and slams it shut (there do need to be treats with Kilo as he likes payment I am afraid).
Give a Kiss
With “Kiss” I held a treat up near my face and lured Kilo over then rewarded him for touching my face with his, but I have to be careful he doesn’t grab at the treat so be safe if you try it. It helps if you have taught “Touch” with their nose first. Kilo loves giving “Pug Hugs and Kisses” when I come home so I name them.
I used “Paw” and lured Kilo up on the board and he had to push to follow the treat.
I need to get a bigger board as he had an easier time doing it at the Canadian Pet Expo when Linzy showed him how on her board.