Watch out, Hollywoof!

Your dog could be the next Bark Ruffalo or Woofie Goldberg if they master these easy dog tricks! By following commands, performing crowd-pleasing tricks, and being their adorable selves, your dog can become the star of the show. Learn more about teaching your pup fun tricks that can help their self-confidence and boost peoples’ moods at therapy dog visits.

The Moonwalk

Teaching your dog how to moonwalk is a useful and easy dog trick to try.

  1. You can start teaching them this by setting up an obstacle course in your home or backyard. This can be made up of chairs, boxes, traffic cones, or whatever you have available. 
  2. You may need to let your dog know where you want them to start, which you can do by giving them a treat when they are in the correct position. 
  3. Now, grab another treat but this time close your fist and start to walk forwards towards your dog. With your free hand make a shooing hand gesture that you will use as a hand signal for this trick. Your dog, of course, will be excited about the treat, but should start moving backward as you cover the treat and proceed forward. 
  4. Then, lure your dog forward by revealing the treat and giving it to them. Try this a couple of times until you think your dog understands the hand signal and backward movements. 
  5. Now, use a command like, “back” or “back up” along with the hand signal.

This easy dog trick can help your dog’s muscle movements and improve their balance.

Take A Bow

Therapy dog visits can include the simple trick of the dog bow. When practicing this trick, choose a non-slippery surface in your home.

  1. Hold out a treat in front of your dog’s nose and then slowly lower it to the floor. 
  2. Encourage your dog with pawsitive praise when their head is low to the ground. Have your dog stay in this position for a few seconds and then bring the treat back up. 
  3. Praise your pup for this completed move. Repeat the training process until you think your dog has gotten the hang of it. 
  4. Then, add the verbal command, “bow.”

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It

Need a dance partner? Why not, train your dog to dance with you? When practicing this trick, make sure the room is clear of objects and obstacles that your dog could trip on or bump into.

  1. You will want to have your dog stand on their hind legs. If you need to, you can hold a treat high in the air as motivation. 
  2. Start off by having your dog stand for one to three seconds, then increase the time length by keeping the treat out of reach. Remember to watch your dog’s body language for signs of fatigue or if they are not feeling it at the moment, take a break and try having them stand for longer periods another time. You can also teach your dog to place their front paws on your arm to help them balance.
  3. The next step of the trick would be having them move in a circle while they are on their hind legs. Use a treat and move it to the side, so your dog will follow the movements when they are standing. 
  4. Reward your dog with praise and treats to help them understand turning in a circle. Now, you can join in on the fun and bust some dance moves beside your dog.
ATD members and their dogs dress up as clowns.

Photo Credit: Kim Williams

Wave Hello and Bye

Waving is a friendly gesture we can teach our canine companions.

  1. If your dog knows how to ‘shake a paw’, then you’ve already got the first step mastered. For those who haven’t taught their dog that trick yet, that’s what you will want to do first. You can read more about how to teach Shake a Paw with our Indoor Games To Play With Your Dog blog post
  2. Next, you can move your hand up so your dog will have to lift their paw to touch you. Praise your dog for making this movement. 
  3. Continue to practice this until your dog is raising their paw at head level or higher. Now, you can add a verbal cue of either “hello” or “bye.”

With enough practice and praise, your pup should be able to conquer this easy dog trick and wave at therapy dog visits.

Dress Up Your Dog

Dressing up your dog can be a fun way to share smiles and joy. The adorable and hilarious costumes therapy dogs wear during their visits are entertaining and bring a sense of happiness and camaraderie where it’s needed most. Dressing up your dog can make them the star of the show at therapy dog visits. These moments of laughter and wonder serve as a reminder of the impact our canine companions can have on those we visit. Make sure your dog is comfortable and safe in the costume. You can also choose bandanas, bow ties, and fancy collars as long as they follow ATD equipment regulations to keep your therapy dog comfortable and still share smiles and joy.

Lights, Camera, Action!

While we strive to make our furry friends the star of the show, it’s important to remember that it’s more than a spectacle. It’s about bringing joy and positivity to those who are going through a rough time. Whether it’s dressing your dog up as a clown or getting them to perform easy dog tricks, their presence helps bring comfort and cheer. Embrace the opportunity to showcase your dog’s talents and put them to good use! We can’t wait to see them take center stage, one wagging tail at a time.