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5 Tricks You Can Teach In 5 Minutes

By Steffi Trott

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If you have ever seen trick videos of dogs that can walk on their hind legs, jump through the owner’s arms or even do handstands, you might want to teach your own pup a bunch of cool skills. But how do you get started?

As a professional dog trainer, I have taught hundreds of tricks to my own dogs as well as to thousands of clients’ dogs both in-person and through online training. Trick training is great mental and physical exercise for dogs of all ages and breeds

Today, I will share with you how you can teach your dog 5-minute tricks, even if he has had no prior training. Nothing is required other than rewards and enthusiasm.

Let’s get started!

First things first: Treats!

When working on tricks, you will be rewarding your dog with treats. You can use store-bought treats or you can cut up small pieces of cheese, hotdog, ham or chicken. The more your dog likes his treats, the faster he will learn. 

Make sure to always reward him generously and to not be stingy. Every treat is a way to tell our dog “Yes! You did that perfectly!” The more often you can communicate this, the quicker he catches on.

Some dogs will work for their regular dry food. If your dog accepts his kibble as a reward, even better. Many pups however want a better “payment” for their tricks. You should give your dog whichever reward he likes the most, and he will learn quickly.

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Make sure to always reward him generously and to not be stingy. Every treat is a way to tell our dog “Yes! You did that perfectly!” The more often you can communicate this, the quicker he catches on.

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5 Tricks that just take 5 minutes to teach

1. Spin left and right

Take a treat and show it to your dog. Now draw a circle in the air that your dog follows with his nose. 

The key is to lure the dog right at the level of his nose. If you hold the treat too low, your dog will lie down. If you hold the treat too high, he will sit and look up. Make sure that you describe the circle right at the height of your dog’s head. 

Make it slow enough that he can follow the treat. If you move your hand too quickly, he will probably just give up.

Once your dog has completed the circle, praise him and give him the treat. Now try the other direction!

2. Crawl

Ask your dog to lie down. Show him a treat in your hand and move this treat very slowly on the ground. As soon as your dog stretches to get it and crawls even a couple inches with one leg, praise him and give him the treat!

Crawling can be tricky to start because it is not a form of movement dogs do very frequently. By luring your dog only a couple inches at a time you can make sure that he will not get up and just walk. If your dog was to get up, you know that you moved too fast, too soon.

Once your dog understands that the key is to stay on the ground while moving, you can gradually increase the distance that your dog has to crawl before he gets his treat.

3. Paws Up

In this trick, our dog will put his front paws onto different objects. You can start out with an easy object such as a stepping stool or cardboard box. Stand across from your dog with the object in between you and lure him up onto it with his front feet. Reward him generously!

Now you can make it harder. Find objects that are narrow, high or even a bit unstable. You can ask your dog to do paws up on a park bench, a fallen log, a fire hydrant, a gymnastic ball… be creative and see how many different ways you can find!

4. Stand Tall

Standing on the hind legs is a trick that requires balance and coordination. Teaching it will improve your dog’s body awareness and motor skills!

For this trick we won’t use our treats, but instead have our dog lick his reward off a spoon. Take a plastic or wooden spoon (metal can hurt the dog’s teeth) and put some peanut butter or canned cheese on there. Show it to your dog and let him lick just a little bit so he can have a taste.

Now you hold it up over his head and encourage him to get it. When he stands up on his hind feet, praise him and let him lick the spoon as he is standing up. You can support his front feet with your arm for additional balance. Over time, you can have him stand on his hind feet for longer and longer!

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Standing on the hind legs is a trick that requires balance and coordination. Teaching it will improve your dog’s body awareness and motor skills!

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5. Leg jump

Sit next to a wall with your leg stretched out and your foot touching the wall. Have your dog by your side. Now toss a treat over your leg so that your dog will jump across it to get the treat. When he does, praise him and let him eat it, then toss a treat back over your leg. Have him jump back and forth over your leg this way. Over time, you can make it harder by raising your leg higher and higher.

Note that this kind of jumping from a standstill is actually very tiring for dogs. At first, your dog might be panting over doing five or 10 of these. Give him some water and a break, and slowly increase the amount of repetitions over time.

Tips for teaching tricks

All dogs love to learn tricks. When you are training your dog, make sure he is in a good state of mind to learn. Remove distractions (such as other dogs of the household who might interfere) before you start. Pick a time of the day for training when your dog is awake, active and has some appetite. It is usually better to train before a dog’s mealtime rather than afterwards. Once he has eaten and his tummy is full, he will be less likely to want to train for treats.

You should first teach tricks inside in a low-distraction environment, but as your dog catches on, take them on the road. Ask your dog to spin left and right and do “Paws Up” on your daily walk or at the park. The more different situations your dog practices his tricks in, the better he will get! And soon you can make your very own trick video.

Happy trick training!


Starting out as an in-person dog trainer, Steffi Trott now runs the training resource website, spiritdogtraining.com. She specializes in bonding, game-based training solutions as well as working with reactive dogs.

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