Some dogs have an easier time learning tricks than other dogs. Pure breds like golden retrievers and labradors will typically “catch on” to tricks faster than most mutts or smaller companion-type dogs like beagles. There are a few tricks that almost all dogs should be able to figure out due to their simplicity..
This is the quinessential dog trick. Every dog can learn to sit. Some dogs might take longer to catch on than other dogs. To teach your dog to sit, you need to positively condition them with small treats. Use small bite size treats so you can work with them in repetition without worrying about feeding them too much food. If you’re using a large treat, break it up into several smaller pieces. Gain your dog’s attention and tell it to sit. Use a firm, strong command. “Sit!” And say nothing else. Adding other words to the dialogue will confuse your dog and make the training procss take longer. The first several times, you will need to push the dog’s hindquarters down. Once they go down, praise them and give them a treat. Repeat the process by having your dog follow you to different parts of the house or yard. Tell it to sit, continue to push its hindquarters down and immediately reward the dog when it reaches the sitting position. After a while, the dog will connect the dots and realize that it receives the treat faster by sitting.
Once you’ve gotten your dog to sit on command with no problems, you can add another trick. Teach the dog to shake by insisting that he or she lifts up their paw and puts it in your hand. At first, the dog will have no idea what you want, so help it learn by saying “shake!” in a firm commanding tone while lifting up their paw to shake. After some time, stop lifting the paw and wait a moment for them to do it themselves. If they don’t, you can pick the paw up and shake. Eventually they will just realize to put the paw in your hand themselves.
Lay or Flat
Teaching a dog to lay down is pretty easy. It is recommended to use a different command than “lay” since it sounds so similar to “stay”. Try saying “flat” or “down”. Assist the dog by laying its front two legs flat on the ground. Do not attempt this until they are already in the sitting position first. By now, the dog should be catching on faster since they have already learned a couple of other tricks.
Once your dog has mastered the “flat” or “down” command, try teaching him or her to roll over. Your dog will probably find this trick a little more difficult to figure out. Never attempt this trick on wood or tilt flooring. Use a softer surface like carpet or grass to support the dog’s spine. Give them the command, “roll,” and assist them by physically flipping them over in a barrel roll. At first this will probably be pretty confusing to them, but once they realize they get a treat for going along with things, they’ll take over the work themselves.
Those are four easy tricks that almost any dog should be able to learn no matter how innately intelligent they are.