Beyond basic commands: tricks to teach your dog

by Kira Garrett | February 24, 2014

Why stop at sit, stay, come? Dogs are incredibly smart creatures and can understand about as many words as your average toddler. Training your pup, beyond the basics, is a great way to keep your pet sharp, entertained and obedient.

As with any training use lots of patience, positive reinforcement and treats.

Here are some tricks you can teach your pet:

High five

Teaching your pup to ‘shake’ is great, but why not teach him to high-five? This trick is often easiest to start with your hand down low, below his head. When you hold out your palm, your pup should instinctively offer you his. Once this starts to happen, you can introduce the verbal command. Say ‘high five’ once he has placed his paw into your open palm. Next, raise your hand higher and higher, until he understands that your open palm facing him means ‘high five.’


Barking is not always a welcome behavior, especially when you live in an apartment or shared building. Teaching your pup to speak on command is a fun trick, but can also help you limit unwanted barking. Simply begin giving your pup a treat when he barks. Then, introduce the verbal command ‘speak,’ as you reward him with a treat. Before you know it, Fido will be bark when you ask him to. Bonus: attempt the opposite: quiet. Utilize his new knowledge of the term ‘speak’ to get Fido to bark, then, when he is silent, reward him. Introduce the verbal command ‘quiet’ as you reward his silence.

Play dead

To initiate training this command, have your pooch lie on his side, with his head on the ground. Instead of rewarding him straightaway, let him wait for a moment, so he practices staying totally still. After a few seconds, give him the ‘ok’ to get up. Again, begin with rewards and introduce the verbal cues after he has mastered the physical motion. This is a fun party trick and your pooch will enjoy the certain reward once he bounces back to life!


Teach your pup to kiss on command. Simply reward him the next time he gives your face a lick. Then, when he kisses you again, introduce the verbal cue ‘give me a kiss’ and he’ll be smooching on command in no time.

Take a bow

The next time you see your dog take a big stretch, say to him ‘take a bow.’ Do this repeatedly each time you see him stretch. Once he associates the phrase with his stretching, you can ask him to perform this command and reward with a treat.

Clean up

This trick requires you have a central location, like a crate or box, where you keep your pup’s toys. Allow your dog to take a toy from the box to play with. Lead him back to the box (toy still in his mouth) and ask him to ‘drop it’ over the toy chest. This may take several tries before he understands the action, but eventually you can introduce the verbal cue ‘clean up’ and he will know that he should take his toy and place it in the box.