Good Tricks For Beginners?


Well-Known Member
I was wondering what tricks you started your dog on. I'm looking for things a little past "Sit," while still being stuff that might be a little easier for a novice such as myself to teach.

So far Valentine can Sit, Down, Stand, Come, Go Get It, Drop It, Keep It, Off, Outside (ring bells), Go Potty, Go Poops, and Crate.

We're working on Stay/Okay, (lie on your) Side, and Loose-Leash Walking.

My dream would be that you'd have a magical list. I know that every dog is different, but some tricks must be harder to master, or at least have to be broken down into more steps, right? (And if you want to add those kinds of things too, I'd love having a list to refer to once we're there.)



Honored Member
LOL Zac's trick list would suit no dog but him and no owner but me :D each trick is tabulated into command, current stage of training and final objective :) I'm definitely becoming obsessive.

A natural progression from "Side" might be "Bang" (play dead) and "Roll over"

Spin is an easy first luring trick. We've progressed to Turn (anti-clockwise spin!).

"Go around" is another easy one to lure and can help dogs understand more complex tricks later.

"Shake a paw" and "give me five" are good fun

"Take a bow" seems relatively easy but is one I've never taught O_o

Targeting (with paw and/or nose) your hand, a post-it note, really being able to target ANY object is tremendously useful groundwork for more complex tricks and sports - flyball, shake head no, press a button, tip a box over, roll a ball, training with a target stick...

As time goes on you might want to train your dog to listen when you are further away (distance) and in different positions (will she still "stand" if you are sitting? on her right? behind her?), again I'm an obsessive on this - I can be found calling commands while hiding behind a chair, jumping up and down, running, or lying on the floor :ROFLMAO:.
Do you use a clicker? If not I suggest that you try one out, it really made trick training (well really all training) MUCH easier with Zac. It could take communication with your dog to a whole new level.


Honored Member
Crawl isn't too hard, at least I don't think so.
Or back up.
Targeting is a good one to master, so in future you can use it to teach your dog other tricks.
Circle 8 around your legs or weave while you are walking.


Experienced Member
"Take a bow" seems relatively easy but is one I've never taught it O_o
Its actually a bit hard if you've already taught drop (thats why I taught dazzle "bow" before "drop")...Your dog will think you mean drop while trying to teach it.

Its a really nice looking trick though,and can be taught with a target stick too :)


Honored Member
I work on recall almost daily. (when they come when called).

one trick, well, this isn't going to sound like much, but one trick i use almost daily, especially this time of year, is "Bang!" where you point finger and dog plays dead and puts all 4 feet up into the air.

this is soooooooo handy for cleaning those paws when he comes in. We can't go a day without using "bang" ha ha!!

I also so so so enjoy inserting HUMOR:p into the cue, thinking up inventive or clever cues, so that when dog DOES do the trick,
it is funny. One can take "normal" dog tricks, and think up funny cues. i love that.
I myself,
find "normal" cue words kind of boring, but wow, if you think of funny ones, really jazzes up the trick.
Like, for speak i ask, "Wanna beer?"

Tx trained her dog to shake his head no to "Are you a bad boy?" followed up with "What do bad boys do?" and dog lifts leg.:ROFLMAO:

See? that's way funnier than "Lift leg" or "shake head", see what i mean?
so thinking up funny cues is half the fun, imo.

another trick i dearly love,
is "smile".
my dog (who has dry sense of humor/more serious type of dog) smiles wayyy more often since he was ever rewarded for "smile". Whole family loves that one.


Honored Member
Staff member
Great responses already.
I always start with (not necessarily in this order):
Sit, down, touch(with nose), paw targetting(shake, high five, wave), beginning leave it, down, stay, spin, lots of work on recall, and coming to my left side--good starter for heel/loose-leash walking, and eventual off-leash work because the dog is learning that he/she gets rewarded for being near you.

If the dog happens to offer any other behaviors somewhere in there, I might make a trick out of it. Also do lots of shaping. Beyond these tricks it's kind of up to the dog and what wild hair I happen to have that day. :)

ADORABLE puppy!!! Good luck!!


Honored Member
Staff member
Lol, my mistake, I didn't read what Valentine currently knows already. Whoops!

Spin is a really easy one
Paw targetting tricks--high five, wave
Instead of just having one high-five trick, I use "Gimme five!" for one paw, "Other one!" for the other paw, then "UP HIGH!" for both paws, standing on hind legs.
Another paw targetting trick--Stick 'em up!
Might want to wait for this one because she is young, but dog is in beg position with both front legs in the air.
Roll over--simple but if you want to entertain friends and family, for some reason everyone loves this one.

Just thought of this one; Mudflap's wave is from a beg position with one paw raised, as pictured in my signature. But, it could easily be a really cute behavior for, "Who's a good dog?" or "Who's the best dog in the world?" or "Who wants cookies?" etc.

Shy/Hide Your Eyes/Boo!


Staff member
Paws up on a box or bowl (a great start to heelwork), nose targeting with a target stick (many tricks and behaviours can be taught using a target stick) Back up, peek-a-boo (dog stands between your legs), cross paws (but for many of us, harder than it looks LOL), crawl

You can train more than one at a time, if your dog seems fine with that. I am typically refreshing and working on several tricks in one session with my dogs... keeps them thinking and engaged.


Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone! It looks like I have quite a list now and my work cut out for me. I think this whole dog-owning/training thing is going to be a blast. :D


Honored Member
I think so, too! I think teaching dogs tricks is so great for both the dog, and for you! It's easy, and doesn't really take much time, either.

Do you use a clicker yet?
I resisted using one for like, a year! and Everyone here, kept at me, "try a clicker! try a clicker!"
and i thought, "I don't need dog is learning tricks just fine, i don't wanna be tied to some clicker..."
but wow,
once i ever started using a clicker,
my dog "got" tricks soo so much faster,
i was surprised.

Most of us, if not all of us, we all train "positive only", and reward correct moves,
or attempts in right direction,
and silently ignore wrong moves. We don't even use word "no" or anything, most of us all just silently ignore a wrong move.

I use tiny treats, like size of raisen, to avoid a full or fat dog. dogs do not care how big a treat is. For "jackpots" (moments when dog has a breakthrough, does it just right, etc)
i give small treats, one after the other, after the other., praising him nonstop as i do.
Not one big treat.

My particular dog also thrives on praise, just beams, makes his whole day.
Some ppl here use tugging on toys for the "reward" when dog does right thing.

Beginner dogs, and many puppies, need shorter lessons, til they build up their attention spans. LIke even 5 minutes, always stopping before dog zones out. and just repeat lesson again later.

but looking over the list of tricks that you have already taught to a 4 month old puppy, YOU ARE DOING GREAT and you probably already know all this stuff!

BUT YES, IT'S REALLY FUN, isn't it??!! It so increases the dog/human bond, imo.


Honored Member
and all of us here,
all of us,
all hit stumbling blocks now and then,
where we just can't figure out how to get the dog to understand a trick....

and some of us, have no idea HOW to even begin teaching a trick we want to teach (me, especially, ha ha)
so if you need help, or have questions,
just put up a post! sooner or later, someone who has an idea will be by.


Well-Known Member
Awww... Thanks. :love: I think that I just have a lot of time to work with her right now. I really know nothing about all of this, but she's so bright that she picks up on what I want even when I don't know how to teach it. I have spent a lot of time reading about it and watching videos, but putting it into practice is a whole 'nother thing.

As for asking questions, I'm sure I will tire you all out with all my posts. :LOL:


Well-Known Member
Oh, and I do have a clicker, I just haven't started using it yet. I've been saying "Yes!" instead. I'm going to study more about clicker training. (That's the librarian in me.) I feel like I don't know how to start. Or if I start without knowing it inside and out I'll do it wrong somehow. Even though, I'm pretty sure it's as simple as clicking the instant she does something right and giving her praise and a treat right after. I think I'm still just a little worried I'll do something completely wrong and not know it until it's so far down the way that it's hard for Valentine to unlearn it. :eek: We're also starting a different obedience training tomorrow with positive only methods. I think the trainer will be teaching clickers, so hopefully she'll be able to answer all my silly questions.


Staff member
If you want to read up on the subject (and being a librarian, you likely enjoy books! LOL) "Reaching The Animal Mind" by Karen Pryor is the best clicker training book out there! She mostly invented Clicker Training.


Honored Member
Dogs are very forgiving of mistakes with clickers - as long as a click always means a treat. You'll make mistakes but you won't ruin a dog by using a clicker :ROFLMAO:

Until a few months ago I used "Yes" rather than a clicker. "Yes" is nowhere near as effective as a clicker. Remember I said that my dog doesn't know "Take a bow"? Well now he does, he learnt it in 3 training sessions on one evening, and I proofed it the following day (as well as changing the verbal cue :rolleyes:). Without a clicker there is no way my dog could learn that fast.

The way I started with a clicker was with a cue that Zac knew already and when he was hungry, eg/ I told him to sit, clicked, gave him a treat... that is how hard it is. Once Zac started to snap his head round to me when he heard the click I knew we were in business ;). Zac and I have increased our understanding of the clicker together almost without being aware of it.

LOL after I had used a clicker for a month I went out and bought clickers for all my doggy friends!
Clickers are not complicated.
Clickers are easy!
Clickers are FUN!


Honored Member
Here are some great tips on clickers, from Jean, (the guy who owns this site)

A stretchy coil band, sold in keychain area,
is good idea, to attach to the clicker, so you can put it on your wrist.

Get 2 or 3 clickers, the cheapest one is fine. don't leave clickers lying about, ppl will mess with it, and it can confuse the dog.:rolleyes:


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the info. I will definitely check out the book and the link. We start our new obedience class this afternoon. If we're not already started on the clicker by then, than we'll get started on it soon. :D


Well-Known Member
Our new trainer had me start modifying my hand gestures from claws that hold treats into open palms up for sit or down for lay down (and still flat for stay). She also told me to stop saying the command word twice each time. Oops. :confused:

Valentine and I tried the clicker tonight. We were working on Drop It. I can get her to reliably fetch and drop the ball somewhere in my vicinity normally. With the clicker I had her fetching, dropping it in my lap, and sitting down before I threw the ball. I didn't even have to say Drop it or Sit anymore, she just did it. I even got her to lay down before throwing the ball. I don't know if I want her to always do that, but it's awesome to know that she will if I ask her to. So, yeah, I think this is going to be good. :cool: