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How to Teach Your Dog to Give High-Fives! And Other Fun Tricks for National Train Your Dog Month!

Trick training is a lot of fun and is a great way to enhance communication between you and your dog. From teaching your dog to 'wave' at you or give you a 'high five' to having the dog roll over on cue, the possibilities for dog tricks are almost endless. As with all training, though, make sure that your dog is healthy and has no medical issues before starting the training process.

If your dog is resistant to perform a trick, do not punish her. An action that might be cute for you to watch might be uncomfortable for your dog to perform.

All training should be fun for you and your dog and if you include your kids in the teaching process all interactions between your dog and children must be closely monitored at all times. Be patient as your dog learns and use treats that motivate your dog to learn. (Meaty treats work best!). To get you started I have included 2 tricks you can try along with 3 basic skills that are a must if you want a well mannered pooch. So, give them a try today and join us in celebrating National Train Your Dog Month.



  • Hold a treat in front of your sitting dog. Wait for her to smell, lick and push at your hand with her muzzle and work out how to get the treat out of your hand.

  • She will eventually bring her paw up to the treat and paw at it. As soon as she does, tell her ‘good girl’ and give her the treat.

  • After a few repetitions add the word, ‘shake,’ or ‘high five’ as she is in the process of doing the action.

  • Keep presenting your hand to her and now as she brings up her paw, put the palm of your hand up to meet her paw.

  • Keep repeating this and you will be rewarded with a dog that high fives you each time you ask.


  • Start with your dog in a down position.

  • Hold a treat in front of his nose.

  • When he takes notice, move the food away from his mouth, so he cannot snatch it.

  • Move it down his body past his front leg and back over his lying body.

  • His head will follow the food morsel, forcing him to roll over in order to get it.

  • When he completes this action, give him the food and praise him.

  • You will need to do this several times until he learns that roll over is something you enjoy him doing.

  • This might require returning later to practice the trick every time, since praise and food treats tend to get a dog excited and moving around.



Teaching the 'sit' cue is the first cue many dog owners want to teach their new dog or puppy. This cue can be used when you need your puppy or dog to focus her attention at certain times; for example, at the curb before crossing the road, in front of a food bowl before eating, at the front door when someone is coming in, and before the leash is attached.


You can teach your dog to sit quickly and painlessly by following these easy, force-free steps.

  • Hold a treat by your dog’s nose and wait for him to figure out how he is going to get it out of your hand. Some dogs will lick or paw at it, but do not give it to him until he puts his behind on the floor.

  • Repeat this until your dog is sitting reliably then add the word 'sit' as he is in the process of sitting so that he begins to associate the word with the action.

  • When he is sitting repeatedly, start saying the word 'sit' as you present the treat to him.

  • Please note that if your dog is snaps at the food in your hand, you should be very careful and substitute a toy for the food. Using toys to teach this instead of food is also effective if your dog is more toy-motivated.

  • As with any cue, teach this in short increments so that your dog does not get bored, and be aware of your pup or dog’s physical comfort.

  • Sitting too much can be uncomfortable, especially for larger dogs


Teaching the 'down' cue takes a little patience, but is a valuable cue for your dog to know. Lying down and getting up again can be very strenuous for large breed dogs such as Mastiffs or Great Danes, and can even be challenging for older dogs, so do not overdo the down cue with certain large breeds or elderly dogs.

Down is a good position if you want your dog to settle close to you or lie on her bed if you have company or when you are eating. It is also useful if you want your dog to calm down in certain situations.


  • Use a treat and ask your dog to sit

  • Place your hand, with the treat in it, palm down on the floor and let your dog sniff it, but do not let her have it. Do not give a cue yet or say anything at all.

  • Your dog will try and work out how she is going to get the treat from your hand. As soon as she lies down on her belly, give her the treat and praise her.

  • Repeat the same exercise several times: wait for the action, catch it, give her the treat, and praise her.

  • The next step is to put in the vocal cue and hand signal. As your dog is in the act of lying down, say 'down' and lower your hand, palm down, onto the floor. Repeat this 5-10 times.

  • Finally, ask your dog to 'down' using the vocal and hand signal before she has even started to lie down.

  • Release your dog by saying 'ok' when you want her to get up again.


Another great cue to teach your dog is the 'heel' or 'close' cue. Walking well on a leash and walking right next to you are separate leash manner skills. A dog’s walking pace is naturally faster than a person’s, so be aware of how difficult it is for some dogs to modify their pace to suit yours.

Try starting this exercise beside a wall in your home so that your dog is between you and the wall. This will make it easier for your dog to stay close to you.


  • Teach your dog to follow a piece of food that you have in your hand. If your dog is not food motivated, use a toy instead.

  • Show the food to your dog and then put it in your left or right hand. Hold your hand against the left or right side of your body (whichever is more comfortable) so your dog learns to follow the food in your hand.

  • Move forward and encourage her to follow the food, which now acts as a lure.

  • Walk for about ten steps and then stop. Praise your dog and reward her with the food. If you want her to sit at this time, either give her the cue word or move into her body while saying, 'stop.' That will teach her to stop and sit at the same time.

  • Repeat this exercise several times gradually increasing the number of steps you take.

  • Your goal is to show your dog that walking next to you brings good things.

  • Repeat this technique until your dog is responding well. Say your dog’s name followed by the cue 'heel' and move off with your hand tapping your side to encourage her to follow.

  • Once you have compliance, begin using food intermittently while still praising her. If your dog walks ahead of you, reverse direction and repeat the cue, tapping your thigh again. Praise her warmly.

  • Vary the routine by turning left and right or doing a figure eight, saying 'heel' as you turn. The sit when you stop should now be automatic.

  • Make sure your dog has mastered heeling indoors before trying it out on the street, where there are many more distractions and it is harder for her to concentrate.

  • You should not ask your dog to heel all the time when on a walk, but do reinforce it for practice.

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