For most of us, the holiday season means more time with family and friends and hopefully a little less time at work and/or school! Things can get hectic, and for our dogs, that might mean you are spending more time at home with them, or you might be out and about even more than usual. Either way, it’s important to make sure your dogs are getting enough exercise, mental stimulation and attention from you.

If you will be having friends or family to your house, this is a great time to start teaching your dog a new dog trick to show off to visitors! It helps your dog get some extra special attention at a time when people might be more focused on other things. It also is a great way to help your dog burn off some extra energy if you aren’t finding enough time for the usual walks, visits to the dog park, or other activities. And he will love the extra time you spend one-on-one with him!

Your dog might already have a few tricks you can show off, but adding a new one makes it extra fun for both of you and gives your dog a chance to put his brain back to work. It’s always good for dogs to be learning new things – no matter what their ages.

Here are just a few ideas you might choose from to teach your dog:

  • Stretch/yoga/bow (I don’t use “bow” because it sounds too much like “down”)
  • Shake
  • High 5
  • Roll over
  • Spin/twirl
  • Up (to jump up onto an object)
  • Off (to jump off the item they just jumped “up” on)
  • Go around (send out around an object and return or simply make a circle around you)
  • Under (go under a table or other object, or under your legs)
  • Over (jump over a broom handle, small object, or have a child lie down and teach the dog to jump over the kids – kids love this one!)
  • In/Out (get into then out of something, like a laundry basket or shallow cardboard box)
  • Kisses
  • Hugs
  • Sit up/Beg

The possibilities are endless, and if your dog already has a cute or funny behavior of his or her own, start capturing and rewarding it so you can put it on cue. If you want to know how to teach some of these tricks, sign up for our Fun & Games Class this winter, find Youtube videos with demos, or find a tricks book at your local library.

Incorporate your dog into the festivities by giving him/her a chance to be the center of attention and part of the entertainment for your guests!