dog giving paw

Teaching your pet new tricks is an excellent way to spend more quality time with them and build the bond between you. Here are two fun, simple tricks you can teach your pet this New Year, along with some tips for success.

Before getting started, make sure you have a good supply of treats and a quiet room to train in. This training is easiest to do while sitting on the floor, so a soft carpet or mat is helpful.

Teach Your Dog to Ring a Bell

Step 1: Show your dog the bell and let them examine it. If your pet shows interest in the bell or engages with it, praise them and give them a treat.

Step 2: Place the bell close to the door you use most often when you let your dog out to potty. Ring the bell each time you take your dog outside. The goal is for your dog to start associating through repetition the sound of the bell with going outdoors. The key to developing this skill is consistently using the bell when taking your dog outside.

Step 3: After repeatedly seeing you ring the bell before going outside, your dog will come to understand that the bell is a sign it’s time to go outside. Continue doing this until your dog starts to ring the bell on its own, unprompted by you. Give your dog lots of praise and take them outside as soon as they ring the bell.

Teach Your Pet to Wave Hello

Step 1: Start by having your pet sit in front of you. Let your pet sniff a treat that you are holding in your palm. Then, enclose the treat in a fist and place it close to your pet’s paws. Give the command:  “Wave hello.”

Your pet should paw at your fist to get at the treat. Reward your pet when its paw lifts off the ground. Continue this sequence until your pet immediately lifts its paw each time you place your fist near its feet. 

Step 2: When your pet realizes that pawing your hand results in being rewarded, it’s time to shape this behavior to more closely resemble a wave.

With each successful repetition, raise your hand a little higher until your pet paws at your hand at about the height of their chest or neck. Continue using the “wave hello” command.

Step 3: Once your pet feels secure pawing your hand in the air, it’s time to take your hand out of the sequence. Present your flat hand or fist like before, but this time, before your dog can paw it, take it away and give them a treat. Continue using the “wave hello” command.

At this point, you’re trying to show your pet that lifting their paw is what brings the reward—not actually touching your hand.

Repeat this process, rewarding your pet each time they lift their paw. Present your hand farther and farther away from their body with each repetition. If you’re still making a fist when you give a treat, switch to using a flat hand.

Tips for Training Success

The more consistent you are in training your pet, the easier it will be for them to learn the command or trick.

Here are further tips for successful pet training:

  • Start with a reward-based training method.
  • Teach a few new tricks, but don’t overwhelm your pet.
  • Focus on easy tricks that are more playful than practical.
  • Break each trick down into baby steps.
  • Pay attention to your pet’s body language to gauge his success and stress levels.
  • Keep things light and fun.
  • Remember to reinforce good behavior with praise, treats, and playtime.

If you have questions about pet behavior or training, please call us at (540) 951-1002. Our team is always here for you at Main Street Veterinary Clinic.