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9 Easy & Unique Dog Tricks for Beginners

Dogs love learning new things every day. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.

Teaching your dog new tricks is a fun way to incorporate mental training and bonding into your daily schedule.

Below is a list of 8 simple dog tricks for beginners to try at home.

Teaching new tricks will not only improve your dog’s ability to learn but will also make you a better handler in the process.

Each time you train with your dog, he will be able to acquire new skills quicker and quicker.

Many tricks are so easy that your dog will get many positive rewards which will boost his confidence as a result.

Tricks and commands don’t have to be difficult. As a new and inexperienced dog owner, you will have just as many options to choose from as veterans.

You probably haven’t heard about these creative dog tricks and yet they’re quite easy to follow. Every equipment can be made DIY.

But before you start with the training, make sure that your dog knows all the basic obedience commands and that you’ve opted for the mainly positive reinforcement type of training.

1. Give a Hug

Giving hugs is such a cute trick to teach your dog and so easy for beginners. Your dog will be taught to wrap his paws around your shoulders while you are kneeling on the ground.

It is best to train this trick when your dog is calm because otherwise, he will jump all over the place.

  1. Kneel down on the ground before your dog and put some treats in your hand. Show your dog the treats and move them towards your head to encourage your dog to lay his front paws on each of your shoulders.
  2. If he is calm enough, you can also gently grab his paws and place them where you wish. Reward him for each successful hug without jumping around.
  3. Only encourage a single jump towards you with his front paws on each of your shoulders. Discourage him from jumping up on you or other people while standing or not giving him the command.
  4. Once he learned to hug to get a treat you can then add your chosen cue as a command. A lot of practice will make this trick a great one!

2. Jump Through a Hoop

Teaching your dog to jump through a hoop is definitely easier than it sounds. The only thing you will need is a simple hula hoop and some yummy treats.

  1. Start by holding the hula hoop vertically to the ground while touching the floor. Guide your dog to one side and hold a treat in the other hand to lure him through the hoop.
  2. Really encourage him to walk through the hoop each time to get a treat. Repeat this step a few times.
  3. After this, you can lift the hoop a few inches off the ground, so your dog has to make a tiny hop to get through it. Repeat this step a few times.
  4. Slowly but gradually increase the height of the hoop and let your dog start from a further distance so he has enough space to make a jump.
  5. Once your dog gets the hang of it, you can then add a cue like “hoop” or “jump” as the command. Be very clear in your pronunciation and indicate your dog to jump through the hoop.
  6. The last step would be to take this training outside so your dog can make a real run-up and gracefully jump through the hoop.

For the advanced version of this trick, you can also form your arms into a hoop and use them instead.

This will work best with small to medium breeds as a Great Dane usually won’t fit through your arms.

Using your arms, you will be able to create a dynamic movement while your dog is jumping through them. You can watch the video below as reference:

This trick can be part of a dog agility course that you can create in your own yard.

Luring your dog over, under, and through obstacles is a great way to exercise his mind while building up more confidence.

3. Take a Bow

Take a bow is a trick that any dog of any size can learn. After this training, your dog will be able to bend down onto his front elbows with his butt poking up in the air.

It looks pretty adorable and makes it seem like your dog is doing yoga. You will only need your dog’s favorite treats for this.

  1. Start this trick by standing in front of your dog while holding a treat in one hand. Show your dog the treat and get him into a standing position.
  2. Lower the treat to the ground while luring your dog’s nose. Try to get to the floor as close as possible and release the treat once your dog’s head is near the ground.
  3. Wait a bit longer each time until you release the treat which will make your dog paw your hand. Gently push the treat between your dog’s legs to encourage him to bend down. Reward any movement of the elbows in the right direction.
  4. Your dog will get lower and lower each time you repeat this. You will want to get him moving after the bow so he won’t be tempted to get into a lie-down position.
  5. Once he has learned to drop his shoulders completely, you can add a cue like “bow down” or “take a bow” and slowly fade out the luring with the treats until he does it on command.

4. Ring a Bell

This is by far the easiest trick of this list and only requires some dog treats and a bell (obviously).

Many dog owners use the bell to potty train their dogs. The bell is being used as a signal that the dog needs to be going outside but for this exercise, we will just be using the association of the bell with treats.

  1. Start by getting your dog into a sit position and place the bell in front of him.
  2. Ring the bell and throw him a treat. Repeat this a couple of times.
  3. Wait a bit longer each time until you ring the bell and give him the chance to do it himself. He will quickly learn that if the bell is rung, he will get a treat.
  4. Once he rang the bell for the first time, praise him and wait the next time for him to ring it as he now made the connection. You can add a cue like “ring” or “bell” every time he rings it.

And that is it. It’s so easy and if you have a puppy and want to know how the potty bell is being trained, check out the video below:

5. Figure 8

This dog trick is not as simple as the bell-ringing one before but still a beginner trick as it involves normal lure training.

Figure 8 is a trick where the dog moves between your legs and walks around each leg to form the figure 8.

  1. Start with your dog standing in front of you and spread your legs wide apart.
  2. Take a treat into your right hand, lure your dog between your legs in order for him to come to the front of the right leg. Treat him every time he comes to the front.
  3. Switch the treat into your left hand, lure him from the right leg between the legs to the back and come to the front again. Now you have completed a figure 8 with your dog.
  4. Repeat this process many times and add your desired cue. You can then slowly fade out the luring until you only have to point to the right leg.

You can also train your dog to do the figure 8 while you are walking.

For this, you will need to repeat the same process and just take one step with the leg your dog is currently going around and then with the other.

So you will be slowly moving forward with your dog parkouring between your legs.

6. Hold an Object

Holding an object in a dog’s mouth without chewing or biting on it is a common task for service dogs and is often used in obedience training.

For everyday life, your dog could learn to bring you the newspaper for example.

  1. Use a simple and medium-sized object to train your dog. Ask your dog to take it into his mouth and reward him for that. If your dog already has a cue for picking up objects, use it.
  2. While the object rests in your dog’s mouth, support it with your hand to keep it from dropping.
  3. Repeat this process of giving him the object a few times and slowly increase the time in which he has to hold it.
  4. Once your dog has learned to hold the object for a few seconds, add the cue “hold” to it.
  5. Decrease the amount of support you are giving the object and let him hold it in his mouth for 5 seconds. Do not reward chewing or dropping the object and just start over again.
  6. Your dog will eventually start to hold it on his own. While you are in the training process, always use the same object.

After your dog has completed the training, you can also ask him to “hold” other objects like a newspaper or the remote control.

7. Agility Weave Poles

For this one, you can either use old broomsticks and do it DIY (explained in my PDF below along with other possibilities for a DIY Agility course) or you buy these stable weave poles.

8. Crawl

Crawling is not a dog characteristic. Human babies are used to crawling before they walk but puppies go straight into walking.

That being said, a dog is very capable of crawling on the ground and if you have a baby in your household, chances are your dog will try to imitate the behavior.

Before you start teaching your dog to crawl, he will first need to learn how to lie down (more on that below).

  1. Stand in front of your dog and get him into a lie-down position. Squat down and show your dog the treat.
  2. Lay your hand with the treat down to the ground and lure your dog’s nose towards you.
  3. When your dog starts crawling just a bit, reward him immediately. If he gets up this means that you have gone too quickly. Stay really close to your dog’s nose and encourage him to follow your hand.
  4. Your dog will quickly pick up the behavior and crawl longer each time.
  5. Repeat this step many times until you add your wished cue.
  6. Increase the distance and give your dog the command to “crawl” towards you. Take a step back if he fails and slowly increase the distance.

9. Back--Up

Teaching your dog to back-up is a cool and very useful trick. When your dog is standing right in the doorway or is blocking the path for people, you can simply ask him to back up.

  1. Grab a treat and lure your dog’s nose towards his chest.
  2. When he looks down, keep moving it close to his chest which will make him go backward.
  3. Reward him for every step back and slowly increase the distance.
  4. Add the cue “back up” every time he walks back.

To make it easier and more rememberable for your dog, you can also place a mat on the floor behind your dog.

Once his back paws touch the mat, you can treat him. Using targeted training is often more simple for you and your dog. Watch this video as a reference:

You can also try to incorporate tricks in your dog yoga routine where you both practice together to strengthen that bond!

BONUS: Professional Dog Tricks in Dog Shows

For those of you who are giving up too quickly or those wo are interested in what a dog can actually achieve in terms of tricks, check out the video below.

It’s a great demonstration of the mental accomplishments our canine companions can actually achieve.

If you’re struggling with teaching a certain trick right now, don’t get frustrated. Sooner or later, your furry companion will come around.

Clear communication and fun learning experiences are the keys to success.

If you want to find out more about mesmerizing dog tricks and routines, go down the rabbit hole and research Flying Disc competitions.

It sure looks impressive and is fun to watch. Make sure to challenge your dog but never go beyond exhaustion.

If your dog’s breathing gets heavy or he starts to refuse to participate, you might want to evaluate the exercise level your dog gets (although too little exercise happens far more often).

Teaching your dog new tricks will heavily improve your overall bond with your canine companion!

Oh, in case you’re searching for simple tricks without any equipment, here’s how to teach Roll Over & Play Dead.

Teaching Your Dog Roll Over or Play Dead

Just like the Play Dead command, teaching your dog to roll over is not a completely necessary trick like “Stay” but a very funny and playful one.

Before we start training your dog the new command, he should already know the command down and sit which will make it a lot easier.

If you haven’t taught this already, I have mentioned the steps below. Grab some delicious and healthy treats for your dog.

Or if you prefer to rather praise your dog verbally, with a clicker or a toy, this will work just the same.

How to Teach a Dog to Lie Down

If your dog already knows this command then you can simply jump to the next step. The command lie down is very helpful for this trick and for many other commands out there.

Get plenty of treats and start in a low distractive environment like your living room.

If you are afraid that your dog might get hurt when sliding down on a wooden floor then you can always lay a blanket or mat under him.

This will make the process much more comfortable for him.

  • Start by showing him that you have treats in your hand. You can already reward him once you have his attention.
  • Get him into a sit position and hold the treat tight between your fingers close to your dog’s nose.
  • Slowly lower your hand with the treat so your dog slides into a lie-down position. Wherever you lure the nose, the body will follow.
  • Once his front paws are fully on the ground, you can reward him.
  • Add the cue “down” after a few times and always praise with treats.

Once you have repeated the steps from above and your dog had a few successful downs in a row then you can gradually fade out the luring and only give him a treat when he completed the command.

Now you are ready to get into the roll over trick.

5 Steps to Train Your Dog to Roll Over

Step in a quiet and non-distractive room in your house to better get your dog’s focus on training.

For this trick, you will have to move close to the ground, so crouch down for every step.

  1. Get your dog into a down position with his head and paws on the ground and hold up a treat close to his nose to the side of his head. Make sure to hold the treat tight so he cannot snatch it from between your fingers.
  2. Move your hand (palm facing downwards) towards his shoulder, so his head follows the treat.
  3. Lure him until he rolls onto his side with the head on the floor and praise him for that move. Great you finished the first part! 
  4. For the second part, you will take it further by luring him until he rolls onto his back by moving the treat from his shoulder towards his back. Reward him with plenty of praise.
  5. After each successful and complete rollovers, you can then add the verbal cue “roll over” in a happy voice, accompanied by treats.
  6. Repeat the process a few times and gradually reduce the hand movement.
  7. In the end, you will be able to just sit in front of him and give the command “roll over” with a slight hand gesture.

If your dog has problems with that and stands up or wiggles around in between then you will have to split up the process in smaller parts where you treat for every little step.

Split up each step into two parts and praise for the head turn as well as for him laying on his side.

It doesn’t have to look perfect in the beginning. Reward every effort from your dog.

You can also help him with your free hand by gently grabbing one of his front paws and using it to rotate him in the right direction.

Phasing Out the Treats

After many successful rollovers, you can then start to slowly fade out the treats.

Make your hand movement more subtle every time and see if your dog is able to roll over immediately.

If you have trained each step well, your dog probably won’t have a problem with it.

But if he doesn’t know what you want from him then start again at the beginning and provide him with more hand movement and treat luring.

You will want to take it even slower to set him up for success each time.

You don’t have to treat always as a reward. Start by giving him treats every second time then every fourth time until the verbal praise will be the only reward.

Of course, you can still occasionally treat your dog.

Adding Distraction

Once your dog has perfected “roll over” in the training room then you can step outside to ensure that your dog will be able to perform the trick anywhere.

Start with a low distractive environment like your backyard or any enclosed area.

Let him sniff around and if you haven’t trained him a recall yet, you can attach a long leash to get him back to you.

Let him perform the trick a few times and give him the same treats as before to praise him in the new environment.

If your dog can do the trick easily in your backyard then you can go into more distractive places like the dog park or public areas with other people.

If he fails too often then you will have to take a step back to ensure that he doesn’t get confused.

Problems that May Occur

Rollover is a trick that is not so easy to train compared to a simple command like sit.

In the beginning, my dog used to turn her head the wrong way or standing up because I moved the treat too quickly.

Make sure to always take baby steps to avoid failure as much as possible.

It is always important to make training fun for your dog to encourage him to actually like performing the commands which will lead to a faster and more reliable result.

If your dog refuses to roll over or seems bored or tired, then end the training and try again later or the next day.

Always pay attention to your dog’s body language. It will tell you how much he enjoys working with you.

Feel free to share your experiences with teaching your dog how to roll over in the comments below!

How To Teach Your Dog Play Dead

“Play dead” or “Go to sleep” is an advanced trick that you should teach your dog after he has already learned all the basic obedience commands like, “sit”, “stay” or “drop it”. 

Dogs love to learn new things and if you are running out of commands and tricks then this is the one to teach.

The command is also known as “Shoot the dog dead” which seems too harsh for some owners.

If you want, you can always go with it as a quiet sleep command to put your dog at ease.

If your dog already knows the “lie down” command then you can simply jump to the next step. The command “lie down” is very helpful for this trick and for many other commands out there.

1. Lie Down

Start with your dog in a down position. After a few times, you can add the verbal cue and be sure that he stays in this position until you release him.

2. Roll to Side

Gently push your lying dog to one side by rubbing his belly or luring him with a treat and praise him for doing that.

After a few times, you can try to hold the position for a few seconds or longer and reward.

3. Adding Command

Choose your desired verbal cue, like “play dead”, “bang” or “go to sleep” and repeat it whenever your dog rolls to its side.

You can also add a visual command, like a shooting movement with your hand to make it even more fun.

Teaching from a Standing Position

This is the advanced version from the command “play dead”. Before teaching it from a standing position be sure that your dog has mastered the easier part first.

For this, you will need to train your dog a proper “stand” and “stay” so he won’t move into another position before you give him the command.

Give the verbal and visual cue and if your dog doesn’t know what you are talking about then you can add a “down” to make it easier.

After a few times, your dog will get into the “play dead” command much quicker and more easily.

Wanna introduce play dead alongside this command?

Once your dog has perfected the play dead command, you can teach him to roll over and combine the two tricks. In this article, you can learn how to teach your dog to roll over.

You can either use the two commands separately, so the rollover command first and then the cue for play dead or you can choose to teach your dog to play dead after every rollover.

The second one will condition him pretty fast and it is definitely a nice addition to rollover.

If you haven’t taught your dog to roll over, then instead of teaching him to roll into a lie-down position, you can teach him to only roll to his side.

If you do not want him to do it every time, then simply tell him to “roll over” and treat him and then say “play dead”.

Teaching with a clicker.

Play dead is a great command to teach it with a clicker. It is no different than clicker training with any other command.

When your dog has performed the desired behavior click instead of a reward cue like “yes” and treat him.

A dog that has already learned the rollover command will probably go completely around every time, this is where a clicker comes in handy.

Slowly lure your dog’s nose behind his shoulder and right when he lays on his side click immediately and treat him.

After a few tries, your dog will understand that he gets no treats for completely rolling over and only for ending on his side.

If your dog has problems with that, gently push him onto his side when he rolls over.

You can then slowly increase the time, your dog is laying on his side and only giving him treats after a few seconds.

Pay attention to the process.

When you train any new trick or command, be patient and calm to receive the best possible results.

If your dog makes mistakes, that means that you went on too quickly and your dog can’t keep up with you.

Do not push your dog for too long and include playtime or try it on another day otherwise your dog might feel pressured and will start hating the training process.

If he seems frustrated, tired or bored then stop immediately and be sure to make it more fun next time.

If you want your dog to be excited about a new trick, then be excited yourself and make it interesting.

Be consistent with the commands you choose and the way you teach them. You cannot expect your dog to know what you want from him.

A dog doesn’t understand human language and words mean nothing to him, you could also teach him “car” instead of “sit”.

Let me know in the comments which of these tricks you have tried and if you have other recommendations.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

Marie

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Hi Danielle, my boy is five months old a gorgeous chihuahua,very smart, but... I can't get to put a collar on him, or a harness.. no way, tried leaving it on floor to play with which he will, and he chews it, please can you help?

Danielle

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Hi Marie, the first step when leash-training pups is always properly introducing the collar.

Have you had your dog Chihuahua since he's a puppy at around 8 weeks? If so, he should've learned to like it a long time ago and if not, there's probably a bad association for quite some time. If you just got him, it's not unusual for rescues to struggle with this.

Just dangle it in front of your dog, let him snif, give treats, play around the collar. Small steps. Then you can try placing it on him, take it off immediately. Then leave it on a little longer. And so on.

There shouldn't be a massive struggle and he shouldn't chew on it. Just calmly put it on. Pretty simple but you gotta stay persistent.

Cheers, Danielle

Danielle McDonald

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Hi Danielle, Thanks for the great articles! Can’t wait to teach our new puppy these tricks. Question: how much is too much exercise? We just got a lab/heeler Rottweiler. She’s 13 weeks old. Obviously has lots of energy and so do I! Lol. I don’t want to hurt her future of activity. Right now this is the schedule: wake up and play with her, feed, take the kids to school (car ride) play more or do a 10min walk (weather pending) nap, play, lunch, nap, car ride to school and all the kids pet her and play with her, nap, play, 15-20min walk, around 5-6pm she is feisty!! Play play play! I try and expel more energy by a quick walk. Then calm play, bedtime. Is this too much? If I don’t, she gets bitey and hard to control.

Thank you, Danielle

Danielle

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

Hey Danielle, most of the time when people are asking whether or not their pup is getting too much exercise, they're applying the 5 minute rule (5 min of exercise for each month of age, two times a day) which means 15 mins of exercise twice a day - not necessarily counting light play at home. But quite honestly, I don't think that's appropriate, especially for very active puppies.

Sounds like you're currently doing up to 40 minutes of pure walking per day, that's not too extreme but you're definitely pretty invested already.

What's most important is the kind of exercise, not necessarily the duration. Running, Biking, abruptly chasing flirt poles, discs, whatnot should be a no-go until fully grown. This applies even more to large breeds than any other (and with the Rottie in your mix, there's defenitely some predisposition for hip dysplasia compared to other breeds).

Also, keep in mind that's not only about health but also about the fact that if you're getting your pup used to 2 hours exercise a day when she's 6 months old, that time can easily double when she grows up. We as dog owners can (don't have to necessarily, but it happens quite often) dig our own graves when it comes to over-exercising. Your dog has to learn to calm down and accept quiet time after she's been exercised properly.

Light play here and there and games that challenge her mentally (e.g. snuffle mats) are absolutely fine though.

You can read more about puppy exercise here. Interactive dog toys can also help you with this.

Let me know if you have any questions, Danielle

Paul burton

Saturday 16th of May 2020

I need to train my cavalier King Charles spaniel to use the doggy door himself when needing the toilet. He will use it when we put food out side but other times he seems scared to use it and either sits at the door or pees on the rug.

Lydia

Wednesday 28th of April 2021

@Danielle, have you tried putting a cat the other side of it , my dog chased my car outside and ran through the door without even realising it lol

Danielle

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Hey Paul,

a doggy door is a great tool if a dog learns how to use it properly. You can also introduce a bell and when he rings it, you let him outisde. Maybe that's less scary to your dog than the doggy door?

Cheers, Danielle

Stanley

Monday 30th of September 2019

Realized a lot. Surprisingly easy to fully grasp. Thanks for sharing with us :)