The companion post to this article consisted of dog tricks that are either convenient or practical for a canine to acquire. But why not learn some fun tricks too? Though there may be no other purpose than just humor or entertainment, silly tricks can be a great way to challenge your dog and give him opportunities for mental stimulation. It’s also amusing to impress visitors when your furry wingman shows off his skateboarding skills, or howls out a heartwarming “I love you!” Add one of these fun tricks to your repertoire next time your pup wants to play.
- Dance: Waltzing to music can be taught to dogs of all shapes and sizes, though it is not recommended for arthritic dog or those who have weaker hind legs. Begin by having your pup sit, and then lift a treat above his nose. Move the treat higher and higher until he is on his back legs. Then say the command “dance” and practice holding his paws, or letting him prance around with you on his back legs.
- Play piano: This skill isn’t for everyone, since many people don’t have pianos (and a Great Dane or St. Bernard might just be too big). But many dogs have been taught to play the piano and even croon away in melodious accompaniment. Once you have trained your dog to step up to the keys and taught him to put his paws on the keyboard when you give the command “play” your guests will be blown away. Just add some shades, and you can rename your pooch “Stevie Wonder-dog!”
- Surf: There is no doubt that this trick will take time and patience. Not all dogs can swim sufficiently to be able to tackle the art of surfing. But for water-lovers and good retriever breeds, learning to ride the waves might become your pup’s favorite activity. Begin by letting your dog stand on your surfboard on the ground, before you jump into the ocean together. Then bring your dog out with you on a long board so he has enough space to lay down. Simply ride the wave into shore by just laying on the board with your dog. Once he is used to that, then you can practice standing up on the board. Start at a beach where the waves are small, and be sure to talk to your dog in a soothing voice the whole time. Watch out for heavy swells, as the waves can be powerful and frightening for your puppy if he slips of the boat and gets pummeled by the waves.
- Skateboard: Yes, it can be done. Train your dog to skate board by standing him on the board with both legs while it is stationary on a carpeted surface. Let him get comfortable with the surface, and then practice gently rolling him backward and forward. Keep up with this until he gains confidence to try pushing it himself. You’d be surprised how adept a chubby bulldog can become, scooting around on a skateboard!
- Take a bow: Training a dog to bow when he meets someone is a very sophisticated trick that is sure to enchant all who make his acquaintance. First begin by making sure your dog is able to stand on command (and stay put until you release him). Hold a treat in front on his nose and saw “bow,” then slowly move the treat down until he is in the “bowing” position. Have him hold this stance, then raise the treat back up. Immediately feed him the treat and praise him. Keep practicing this daily until your dog is able to bow on command. Next time you have a female friend over, have your pup bow when he meets her. Who knows, she may even feel inspired to curtsy in response!
- Play sports: Because of their natural athleticism, dogs can learn to participate in sports; soccer being one of the most popular. Pet-owners have helped their dogs learn how to weave along by nudging the ball with their noses as they run. Pups love chasing balls of all sizes, particularly if you are racing beside them, and trying to steal the ball away! Some pet owners have also succeeded in training their dogs to use their noses and mouths to launch a volleyball over the net, or even make a basket during a basketball game!
- Turn the light switch off and on: Obviously this works best for bigger dogs, or light switches near surfaces that little dogs can hop up to. For this trick, you will need a laser pointer to get your dog’s attention to the wall where the switch is, and a clicker to register in his mind that he is the one causing the switch to go on and off with his nose. Click each time he is successful, and immediately give him a treat. Keep practicing while giving the commands “Light on(off).”
- Sing to music: Did you know dogs like to use their voices for more than just growling, warning or “speaking?” Most pooches respond positively toward music, and enjoying howling along with the song. Experiment with music to find which style seems to get a reaction out of your pet. When he seems particularly responsive to a certain kind, put some music on the loud speakers and encourage your dog to sing. Show him what you mean by giving the command, and then howling away to the music with him. This may not happen all at once, but keep practicing with your dog and rewarding him, especially whenever he sings long notes.
- Say “I love you:” The first step in learning this skill, is to be sure that your dog can speak on command or sing on command. If this is difficult, find whatever inspires your dog to start howling and then join in with your dog. Howl away with him, and see if your pup tries to match your tone or “sing” in cue with you. If he does, start saying “I love you” and see if he starts mimicking your sounds. Then repeat the command in spoken words. Give the command “say I love you” followed by the howling “I love you” version, so you dog gets the hang of what you want him to do. Keep practicing (and rewarding the good behavior with treats), and hopefully with time, your dog will be able to croon “Rye Ruv Roo” right back!
Here is an example of the “I love you” command:
Other fun tricks
- Pray: Some people have trained their dogs to sit in the “pray” position until the owner says “amen.”
- Get the mail: Others have taught their dog to get the mail from the mailbox, or take out trash bags to the bin.
- Shake: Though many dogs will naturally shake off excess water before coming indoors when they are wet, some owners have taught their dog to respond to the command “shake” several times before they come inside when it’s raining.
- Play peek-a-boo: Dogs can learn to cover their eyes, or go hide behind a chair until the owner says “found you!” The dog will then reemerge when he has been “found.”
- Toes: Some owners teach their dogs to lift their feet one at a time when the give the command “toes,” so as to make nail clipping easier for themselves and the groomer.
- Balancing act: Dogs can also learn to balance treats on their noses, flick them into the air and catch them in their mouths.
With patience, practice and praise, the sky is the limit for our canine companions!