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Fun And Neat Tricks To Teach Your Puppy

When your puppy has learned some of the basic training needs, you can practice by turning it all into fun. For example, put the puppy in a Sit-Stay, back off a foot or two, show him a soft toy and toss it to him. Don't go for a catch that requires a Superman leap into the air. The idea is to have him actually catch it!

Put him in a Sit-Stay and let him watch you hide a toy under the edge of a nearby chair. Keep him on a stay for a moment more, perhaps as you wonder out loud "Where is Teddy?" Then give him the release and cue, "Okay - find Teddy!" If he hasn't figured out what to do, help him look for it, but let him "find" it.

Going back to the "as" routine, you can teach your puppy almost any trick that he can perform by himself simply by giving that action a one-word command. (Don't worry if it's actually two words.) Dogs like to roll over onto their backs and wriggle, especially on a nice thick rug! Turn this back-scratching into a trick by catching Sparky as he begins and saying, "Sparky, roll over. Good boy!"

As your puppy grows up, he'll understand more and more of your language and you'll be able to use phrases that have great impact as tricks. For example, instead of saying "roll over," say, "Sparky, can you do your rollover exercises?" to bring on a wriggling, leg-flailing routine that is worthy of applause. For starters, keep it simple.

When Sparky has reached the stage of being able to hold a steady Sit-Stay, you can add another trick. Balance a small dog biscuit on top of his nose as you say, "On trust." (You may have to hold his head steady the first few times.) When he has held it for a second or two, give him the release signal ("Okay" or "Take it") as you gently but quickly lift his chin up, which will toss the biscuit into the air so he can catch the biscuit as it falls.

Kids and puppies love to play hide-and-seek, but anyone can get in on the game. Dogs seek by scent, so at least in the beginning crouch down to be nearer the pup's level. Put Sparky in a Sit-Stay, let him see you hide (behind a chair or a door), crouch down and then call out "Okay!" Be sure he finds you even if it means you have to call out his name a couple of times. Make a big deal of it when he does - and then repeat the game. Don't make it any more difficult until he can find you instantly at the first level.

Reward him occasionally with a small treat, but make finding you the most exciting part of the game, which means you will progress slowly from hiding where he can at least partially see you, to hiding in another room and eventually the back of a clothes closet where your scent will be masked. He won't play if it isn't fun, so be sure he does find you every time.

Shaking hands is an old favorite and easy to teach - touch the toes and most pups will raise that paw. Lift it gently and say, "Shake hands" (or "Give me a paw") as he does. When that much has been mastered, you can turn it into a paw raised higher, and without shaking it, say, "Wave goodbye!" But that's for later; a polite puppy handshake is fine for now. The opposite of "Off for jumping up is two paws raised in a jump-up greeting, only on a command of "High five!"

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