You can teach an old dog new tricks, and you can also do it pretty quickly! No matter the age of your dog, there are definitely some fun commands you can teach them that will impress you and your guests...and maybe even your dog. Grab some treats, gather your patience, and get started:
Speak: In these socially-distant times, you may need someone to talk to. If that someone is your dog, it’d be really nice if they spoke back. It’s time to teach your dog how to speak! Start naturally: when your dog barks out of the blue, immediately say ‘Speak!’ and reward them with a treat. It may seem odd at first, but with practice, they’ll start to associate the command and a treat with the action. Once learned, this trick can also begin to put an end to excessive barking - this command will help your dog know when and when not to bark.
Back up: Beep beep, backing up! This trick is multi-functional, but also just adorable. Position your dog standing in front of you in a narrow space (like a hallway), have a handful of treats and your patience ready. Step toward your pup repeatedly until he steps back - once he does, reward with a treat! Once he seems to get the ‘gist’, start adding the "Back!” command combined with the treat.
Shake Hands: A true classic and a crowd pleaser - the dog handshake is a must-learn at any age. Hold your hand out to your dog, and see what he does. He obviously will not know immediately what to do with your hand - he might sniff it, lick it, chew on it, but eventually, he’ll put his hand on your hand. Patience is key here, but right when his paw meets your hand, reward with a treat. This one may take a few sessions (you’ll need breaks more than your pup will), but it will absolutely be worth it.
Spin: Although this trick is strictly for entertainment, it’s a great beginners trick before tackling more challenging ones. Hold a treat in your fist right at the top of your pups head while he’s standing in front of you. Move your fist in the direction you want your pup to go, clockwise or counterclockwise. Reward your pup with the treat once he completes the spin, and add the command of your choice alongside the motion, “spin”, “twirl”, or even “dance”!