By Nicole Abrego

Hello 2021! A New Year means a fresh start, new goals, and a chance to learn some new things in the coming year. So why not teach your dog some new things this year as well?

Teaching your dog a couple of new tricks is a fun way to bond with your pet while also providing some physical and mental simulation for them. Just like humans, dogs can learn new tricks and behaviors at any point in their life. By creating a training routine and sticking to it, you can have your pet showing off their new tricks to all your family and friends after a couple of sessions. Here are 5 tricks that you can teach your dog during the New Year.

Before Getting Started

Having your pup master the basic commands such as sit, stay, and lay down will help make training a lot easier for them AND you. Training your dog in several short sessions will help build a scheduled training routine and reinforce their lessons. With treats or your pet’s favorite toy in hand and staying dedicated to your pet’s training, you and your pooch will be on the road to success when learning the following tricks.

Shake Paws

Teaching your dog how to shake hands, or in this case, paws is a fun and easy trick for them to learn. Not only that, it’s a great way to impress your friends! 

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Start by having your pup sit while you hold a treat in your hand. Show the treat in your hand to get your pet interested, then close your hand so they can’t get it and place your hand near your dog’s paw. Give the command “shake” and wait for your pet to touch your hand. You can also wave your hand with the treat under your pet’s nose to keep them interested. Once your pup touches your hand with their paw, reward your dog with the treat and lots of praise! Remember, practice makes perfect so keep repeating this process until your pet understands the “shake” command. 

It also helps to make them use the same paw while they learn the trick. Once they have mastered that paw, you can teach them to shake with the other paw. Your dog will be greeting visitors with a paw-shake in no time!


Another easy-to-learn trick is teaching your dog how to do a spin. This trick is a great way to have your pet show off their cute and playful side. 

Have your dog start in the “stand” position. With treats in hand, use your hand to act as a lure to guide your dog in the direction in which you would like them to go. Use the treat to lead your dog in a circular motion, guiding the treat along their body so they will have to spin around in order to keep track of the treat. Once they complete a full circle, reward them with praise and give them the treat. Repeat this process a couple of times until your pet has mastered the action of spinning. Once your dog has mastered the action, then you can add the command word “spin” to teach your dog to associate that word with the spin action. Repeat this process several times over a few daily training sessions.

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It’s best to choose one direction for your dog to go while introducing this command. Once they have mastered one direction, then you can teach them to go in the other direction on command with commands such as “spin right” and “spin left”.

Give a Kiss

Dogs are known for showering their owners with lots of love and soberly kisses, but now you can teach your pooch how to give you a smooch on command! 

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Start by having some treats and a piece of tape to use as a lure. Place the tape on the palm of your hand and have your dog touch the tape with their nose. When they complete this action, reward your dog with a treat. Repeat having them tap the tape while bringing the tape closer to your cheek. Add the command word “kiss” to signal to your pet to kiss the tape. Once they have mastered the action, place the tape on your cheek and have them “kiss” the tape. Repeat this until they understand the command, remove the tape, and have them kiss your cheek. When your pet gives you a kiss on the cheek, reward them with a treat and lots of praise. 

Play Dead

Having your pup “play dead” is a great trick to show off to others and is relatively easy for your dog to learn. Start off by having your dog go in the “lay down” position. Hold the treat close to your dog’s nose and slowly lure your dog to his side. This will force your dog to roll on his side in order to get the treat. Once your dog is on his side, say “good” and give the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until your dog has mastered the action of laying on his side. 

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Once the action is mastered, you can add the cue word and hand signal. This cue signal can be anything you would like it to be, but most people opt to use the word “bang!” while forming their hand to look like a weapon. Or you can simply use the cue word “play dead”. Give the chosen command word and hand signal and have your dog perform the “play dead” action. Repeat this process a few times daily until your pup has mastered the trick on cue. 

Take a Bow

Want a regal way for your pooch to thank your family and friends for viewing his new tricks? Teach your pup how to take a bow!

Grab some treats and start your dog in the “standing” position. Hold the treat in front of his nose and slowly lower the treat to the ground. Keep the treat close to your dog’s body as you lure your dog to the ground, keeping their backside up. Have your dog hold this position for a few seconds, then get them back up on all fours by raising the treat from the ground. When they complete this action, reward them with the treat! Repeat this process with them several times over a couple of training sessions. Once your pup understands the action, add the command word “bow” and repeat the training process. 

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If your pup tends to lower their entire body to the ground, try keeping your arm gently under their stomach to keep their backside elevated and prevent them from lowering to the ground completely. This trick is a little tricky to master so patience is key.

We hope you have a blast teaching your dog some new tricks this year! We would love to see your pup perform their tricks so be sure to share a video and tag us on social media so we can check out your talented pooch!

Need to schedule your pet’s next appointment? Contact us here.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.