Father Knows Best: How to Train the Dog

By Guest Writer, Dylan Wright

A day spent unleashing your dog's inner Lassie is also a great way to share some quality time with your children. Although it does depend a little on the breed of your dog and its temperament, most canines can be taught a new trick in less than a day. The process of teaching your pooch fun tricks can also be an excellent bonding moment between all parties involved: parent, dog and kids, alike.

What You Will Need

  • Treats
  • Leash or training collar
  • Quiet location with few distractions
  • Patience


If you've already taught your dog to master the necessities, like using a PetSafe pet door to go potty, the next thing you and your children need to work on with your dog is the command for sit. It is the basic first step for almost every other trick. Start by gently pushing on your dog's rear end, while saying, "Sit" in a firm voice. When his bottom touches the ground, you should praise him enthusiastically and give him a treat, advises well-known dog trainer Cesar Millan. After a moment, ask your canine to stand and then repeat the process.

After a few minutes, allow your dog to take a break. When you start the lesson again, don't be surprised if he seems to have forgotten what he has learned at first. Typically, most dogs will remember how to do the trick after a few false starts. If your dog is not picking up on it at all, sportdog.com suggests incorporating a training collar with adjustable correction levels for better results.

Once your dog seems to be sitting on command, ask your children if they want to try to ask the dog to perform the trick. Tell them that your dog will need to hear the command as close to the way you said it as possible. Your canine, of course, may or may not respond at first. If he doesn't, talk to your children about patience and why it is important not to get frustrated with the dog.

Most children are very excited and delighted the first time a dog responds to their command. They may want to do the trick over and over again or they may start shouting the command because they are so thrilled with their accomplishment, so you will have to reinforce to them what you have taught them. In some instances, you may be spending as much time training your children as you are teaching your pup.

Shake Hands

Once your pup has learned to sit, you can move onto "shake hands." However, it is best not to teach more than one trick to your dog at the same time. So give him a day or two off before starting with the new command. For "shake hands," start by having your dog sit, then gently pick up his paw with one hand while saying, "Shake hands" and extending your other hand. Place his paw in your hand, praise him enthusiastically, and then repeat the process. The ASPCA stresses that it is always important to keep dog training sessions short.

High Five

Once your dog has picked up "shake hands," set him up as if you were about to ask him to shake hands. In the same tone as you would say "Shake hands," instead say, "High five" and raise your hand. Your dog will probably be confused at first. If he is, flip your hand like you were asking him to shake hands and repeat, "High five." Often that will help the dog understand, and he will touch your hand. Try again until your dog understands that you want him to touch your hand at the higher position. After a while, your dog will understand that the raised hand means high five and the lower hand means shake hands.

 About the Author: Dylan is a musician and writer from Albuquerque, N.M.