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10 Best dog tricks

One of the best things about having a canine friend is teaching it dog tricks. Not only can you show off your pooch's talents to anyone that will watch but it helps nurture the relationship between you and your dog. The most important things to remember are eye contact, bagfuls of dog treats and a heavy dose of patience. Take it one trick at a time and repeat over and over, showering your dog with rewards and praise when he/she gets it right. Start when they're young as, you know what they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Sit

This is an essential part of any dog's training and a good starting point for teaching your dog further tricks. Get your doggy's attention by showing him/her a treat and then hold it in your hand above his/her head. Use your other hand to gently push the dog into a sitting position while firmly saying "sit." When your dog sits, award him/her with the treat and some affection. Never allow your dog to jump up and take the treat from you hand. Repeat over until your dog associates the word with the action.

Shake my paw

Shaking hands with your dog is a sure crowd pleaser. Start by having your dog sit and then reach your hand out and take hold of your dog's paw while saying "paw". With lots of practice and treats, you dog will soon be holding his/her paw out to you and your friends on command.

Lie down

Once your dog can sit, the next step is getting him/her to lie down, which can come in handy when dealing with overexcited pups. While your dog is sitting, hold up a reward in your hand and bring it down in front of him/her to the floor saying "down" in a firm voice while guiding him/her into the lying down position. Be firm and only reward your dog once he/she lies down to reach the treat. If at first you fail then try try again.

Roll over

Start with your dog in the lying down position and put a treat next to its nose then gradually move it down to the ground encouraging the dog to follow your hand and roll over onto their back. Reward him/her once they've achieved this first step. From there, you need to move you hand away so that he/she rolls over to get the next treat. Once your dog can roll over in one go, you can incorporate the command “Roll over!” at the same time.

Kiss me

If you don't mind a little dog drool on your face then it's easy to get your dog to smooch you (or at least lick you) on command. Say "Kiss me" every time your dog licks you. If your dog isn't a big licker, try putting some peanut butter on your face to start with before you pucker up to entice him/her to lick it at the words "Kiss me."

Beg

The key to this trick is to get your dog to stand on its hind legs by luring him/her with their favourite treat. Hold the treat at a height where they have to stand on their hind legs to reach it. While doing this, say "Beg." At the start, you can give your dog a helping hand by holding his paws for support as he/she stands.

Smile

Keep a watchful eye on your dog's behaviour and wait for the moment when he/she bares their teeth (in a non aggressive manner). When they do, reward that behaviour and say the word "smile." Then try to encourage your dog to do it again. Getting your pup to show their teeth isn't always easy but try offering it new food for the first time (strange or bitter food should do it. Just make sure it's safe for your dog to eat).

Play dead

In this trick, on the command "Bang!" (accompanied by the finger gun gesture) your dog will drop to the ground and play dead like a professional. It's all about timing. From the lying down position, you need to bribe your dog with treats and encourage him/her to lie on their side until he/she learns that lying very still on their side is associated with the word and the reward. The final step is to introduce the finger gun action as a prelude to "bang!"

Fetch the newspaper

Fetch is a natural instinct for most dogs. Start by throwing a newspaper (like a ball) for your dog to fetch and bring back to you. Then introduce a special command word that the dog will associate with the newspaper. Next put the paper in a place where your dog can find it (i.e. by the front door where it gets delivered) and command him/her to go get it. You may have to show them the way a few times. With a bit of practice, you'll soon be calling for the paper from the comfort of your sofa.

Sing

Pull a funny face, act silly or even sing and howl in front of your dog and see how he/she reacts. With any luck, they'll let out a funny, never-heard-before howl or bark that you can turn into their "Singing" party trick. Introduce the word "sing" into the command and then shower with treats when the desired singing howl is performed.

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About the Author

U.K.-born Sophie Lloyd has been writing lifestyle-related articles since 2005. Her work has appeared in Global Blue's "SHOP" magazine (Buenos Aires edition), "Time Out," "South China Morning Post" and online at CNNGo. Lloyd holds a Joint Honors Degree in English literature and French from the University of Edinburgh.