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Home Training and BehaviorBehavioral Issues Fun Bonding: Basic Dog Tricks to Teach for a Stronger Connection

Fun Bonding: Basic Dog Tricks to Teach for a Stronger Connection

by Kimberley Lehman

Teaching your dog new tricks isn’t just a great party trick; it’s a fantastic way to bond and spend quality time together. I’ve discovered that even the simplest commands can become a fun session, leaving both of us grinning from ear to ear. It’s not about creating a show dog but about enhancing our connection and understanding.

Starting with basics like sit, stay, and come, I’ve found joy in the process, celebrating each small victory. It’s these moments that build trust and a deeper bond between us. Plus, it’s incredibly rewarding to see the spark of understanding in my dog’s eyes. Let’s jump into some easy tricks that can make your training sessions both enjoyable and fruitful.

Teach Your Dog to Sit

I’ve always found that teaching a dog to sit is much more than just a simple command. It’s the foundation for building a trusting relationship and an effective way to communicate. So, let’s jump into how you can teach your dog this essential trick, making the training process enjoyable for both of you.

First steps are crucial. Grab your dog’s favorite treat and stand in front of them. I’ve noticed that patience and a calm demeanor go a long way here. Your energy sets the tone for the session, so keep it light and engaging.

Onto the fun part:

  • Getting their attention: Ensure your dog is focused on you. Use their name or a hand gesture.
  • Lure and command: Slowly lift the treat above their head. As their eyes follow the treat, they’ll naturally sit. That’s your moment to clearly say, “sit.”
  • Reward immediately: The second their bottom touches the ground, give them the treat and lots of praise. They need to know they did exactly what you wanted.

Repetition is your best friend in this process. But remember to keep sessions short. Five to ten minutes is perfect. Dogs, much like us, have a short attention span for things they’re not used to.

After a few successful sessions, start adding some variations:

  • Increase the duration before the reward.
  • Practice in different environments to reinforce the behavior.

What’s magical about this process is not just the command they learn but the deeper communication it fosters. I find myself looking forward to these sessions, not just for the success in training but for the laughs and the occasional goofiness. The joy in their eyes when they finally get it is absolutely rewarding.

And it’s not just about control or obedience. It’s a bonding activity. Through this simple trick, I’ve learned to understand my dog’s moods and preferences better. They’ve also become more attentive to my cues, paving the way for more advanced training.

I continually encourage anyone with a dog to try this out. Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a newbie, the process of teaching your dog to sit strengthens your bond and enhances your mutual understanding in ways that are hard to describe. It turns a simple command into cherished moments, laying the foundation for a lifetime of companionship and mutual respect.

Teach Your Dog to Stay

After mastering “sit,” the next trick I like to move onto is “stay.” This command not only ramps up your dog’s discipline but also perks up their focus—a real win-win in my book.

Here’s how I tackle it:

  • Start Simple: In a familiar, distraction-free zone, I command my furry friend to sit. Once their bum hits the ground, I introduce the “stay” command with a flat, open palm facing them. I’ve found that visual cues work wonders.
  • Reward Immediately: At first, I reward them for even a second of staying put. It’s all about baby steps. Gradually, I up the ante, increasing the duration bit by bit. Patience is key here.
  • Distance Matters: Once my dog gets the hang of it, I start increasing the distance between us. I take a step back, then two, rewarding them for staying even as I move away. It’s a delicate dance of trust, really.
  • Distractions by Design: Adding distractions intentionally helps my dog learn to stay focused regardless of what’s happening around them. I might roll a ball by or have someone walk into the room. It’s like leveling up in a game.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Consistency is my mantra. We practice in various settings—inside, outside, with noises, without noises. The more scenarios my dog conquers, the better they get.

It amazes me every time how a simple command like “stay” can reveal so much about my dog’s personality—whether they’re the eager beaver or the patient type. By working together towards a common goal, I find that my connection with my dog deepens, and their trust in me grows.

Throughout this journey, my biggest takeaway is to keep sessions short and sweet. Dogs, much like us, have their limits of focus and interest. Ending on a high note keeps them eager for more. And remember, every dog has their pace; what matters most is the journey you’re on together, not the speed at which you reach your destination.

Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Teaching your dog to come when called, also known as the recall command, is possibly one of the most crucial skills they can learn. Not only does it serve as a foundational aspect of their training, reinforcing their obedience, but it also has the potential to save their life in dangerous situations. My journey into teaching this vital command to my four-legged friend taught me patience, fostered an even deeper bond, and honestly, was packed with fun!

First things first, start in a distraction-free zone. Just like when teaching the “sit” or “stay” commands, you’ll want a familiar environment where your dog can focus solely on you. I began at home, in our quiet living room, gradually moving to the backyard as my pup grew more confident.

Here are the steps I found remarkably effective:

  • Use a Happy Voice: Dogs are keen on our tones, so a cheerful, encouraging voice can make a world of difference.
  • Treats, Treats, and More Treats: Keeping a pocket full of their favorite snacks as a reward is key. It doesn’t just encourage them; it makes the learning process a joy for them.
  • Short and Sweet: Keep the training sessions brief to avoid boredom or frustration. Five to ten minutes a day worked wonders for us.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Consistency is your best friend here. Practicing daily in various environments ensures your dog understands the command fully.

An interesting observation I made was the importance of body language. Dogs are incredibly adept at reading our physical cues. A simple gesture, like opening your arms wide while calling them, reinforces the command.

As we progressed, I introduced distractions to test and strengthen their recall. It started with a bouncing ball on the other side of the yard and graduated to calling them back during a playdate with their furry friends. I was amazed at how well they responded, even with the tempting sights and smells of the park calling their attention.

What truly tied it all together for me was understanding that teaching “come” is more than just about control—it’s an invitation for them to be by your side, reinforcing that being with you is the best place to be. This realization not only changed how I approached training but also deepened the bond between me and my pup in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Teach Your Dog to Shake or Paw

It’s pretty amazing how such a simple gesture can open up a whole new level of interaction between you two.

Getting Started

First off, make sure you’ve got your dog’s attention, along with some of their favorite treats on hand. I’ve learned patience and positive reinforcement are the keys here. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get you going:

  • Sit your dog down in a quiet, distraction-free space.
  • Hold a treat in your hand and let them sniff it, but don’t give it to them just yet.
  • Gently pick up their paw with the command “shake” or “paw” and praise them immediately afterward.
  • Give them the treat and show lots of excitement for their accomplishment.
  • Repeat these steps until your dog starts lifting their paw on their own.

You might be surprised at how quickly most dogs pick up this trick with repeated, short training sessions. Keep your training sessions short and sweet. About 5 to 10 minutes a day should do the trick.

Patience Is Key

Every dog learns at their own pace, and getting frustrated will only set back your progress. If your dog isn’t getting it right away, don’t worry. Just take a break and try again later. 

Beyond the Basics

Once your dog has mastered the shake or paw trick, you can start to add variations to keep things interesting. For instance, teaching them to use the opposite paw or to high-five. These advanced tricks not only add to your dog’s repertoire but also deepen your communication and understanding of each other.

Creating a Strong Bond

What’s truly wonderful about teaching your dog tricks like shaking paws is the mutual respect and bonding that develops. These training sessions are not just about learning new tricks; they’re about spending quality time together and strengthening that unique bond you share. It’s these moments that you’ll both cherish and remember.

Incorporating Tricks for Bonding

When it comes to bonding with my furry friend, I’ve found that teaching them tricks is about more than just having a bit of fun. Here’s how I’ve made the most out of our training sessions to strengthen our bond.

First off, choosing the right trick is crucial. I start with something simple, like ‘sit’ or ‘shake’, to get a feel for how my dog responds to my cues. This initial phase is all about:

  • Establishing a routine
  • Setting clear expectations
  • Creating a positive learning environment

The beauty of starting with easy tricks is that it sets us both up for success. The joy in my dog’s eyes when they finally master a new challenge? It’s unbeatable.

As things progress, I’ve found consistency is key.  The daily routine of practice doesn’t just teach them new skills; it reinforces our relationship. 

Every time my dog nails a trick, their reward is more than just a treat.  These moments include:

  • Praise and belly rubs
  • Their favorite snack
  • Extra playtime

The choice of reward makes all the difference. It tells my dog that I’m paying attention to what they love, making the training session a shared joy, not a chore.

Adding variety keeps things interesting. Once we’ve mastered the basics, we move on to more complex tricks. This could mean:

  • Building on basic commands
  • Introducing props
  • Learning tricks that require more concentration

The aim? To keep pushing our boundaries, gently but steadily. This approach not only teaches my dog new skills but also helps them become more confident and adaptable.


Teaching your dog new tricks isn’t just about having a bit of fun or showing off at the dog park. It’s a journey that brings us closer to our furry friends, creating an unbreakable bond built on trust, respect, and mutual enjoyment. Remember, the key is to start simple, stay consistent, and always celebrate your dog’s successes, no matter how small. As we progress to more complex tricks, we not only challenge our dogs but also ourselves, enhancing our understanding and connection with our loyal companions. Let’s keep exploring, learning, and growing together with our dogs by our side. Happy training!


Kimberley Lehman

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