Christmas and the holidays can feel chaotic. There’s so much going on, but there is one thing you can do to make the holidays a little easier and that’s teach your dog tricks. This blog post is all about tricks to teach your dog for Christmas.
You’ve most likely started working on some of these tricks already, but practice makes perfect. It also makes it much easier for your dog to listen in hectic environments. A well trained dog can really make the difference during the holidays.
We’ve all heard stories or seen in movies that a dog has helped himself to the Christmas ham or turkey.
Obedience training can help to curtail this. “Leave it” is a useful command for steering your dog away from the table full of goodies.
Or maybe you have a dog that likes to greet guests, but gets a little too excited. A command such as “place” would be great to help keep them from bombarding visitors.
Of course obedience training isn’t the only thing you can do to make the holidays better. You can teach your dog some advanced tricks to show off to friends and family when they come to visit.
It’s sure to delight them and it will give your dog a task to do. They want to be included in the fun too after all. It’s a great bonding experience.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some tricks to teach your dog for Christmas.
Obedience Tricks to Teach Your Dog for Christmas
These are perhaps the most important tricks to have down before you have guests over for your Christmas feast.
Some of them may be a little more tricky to teach your dog than others, but that’s okay! With some practice you and your dog will be pros in no time.
The goal in mastering these obedience skills is to help keep everyone safe during Christmas. Your dog will learn to not jump on unsuspecting visitors and will stay from underfoot so that no one trips and falls.
After all, no one wants to spend Christmas in the emergency room for humans or dogs.
Sit is one of the fundamental commands you’ll want to teach your dog. It may feel very basic, but you and your dog should practise regularly to really master it.
This command can be used to help keep your dog from under foot or out of the way when letting guests in, working in the kitchen, or even setting the table.
Some of you may be masters already, but if you’re not it isn’t too late to start.
Start with your dog in a standing position. Hold a treat in front of their snout and slowly arch it over their head. As they tilt their head back to follow the treat, their bum should naturally touch the floor.
As soon as their bum touches the floor, tell them “Sit,” and reward them with the treat.
Do not wait for them to maintain contact with the ground.
The goal at first is to just get them to understand the command. The better they get at sitting and responding to being told to sit, the more challenging you can make it. They will also learn to sit for longer periods of time the more you work on it with them.
This command is similar to sit, but you’ll be teaching your dog to lay down in a designated area that is out of the way. This could be a crate, a pet bed, blanket, or anywhere else you’d like them to lay.
Though, it would be helpful if they enjoyed the space. Make their kennel, pet bed, or other area welcoming to them to help them along.
Once your dog has had practice with this command, you also need to work on a command to let them know they’re allowed to get up. You can use something like “free” or “release.”
The goal is to have them stay in their place until you let them know they’re allowed to move from it.
First, make sure your dog knows where their place is. You can reward them when they interact with it or lure them to it with a treat and reward them once they’ve touched it. You’ll want to work on this behaviour until all four of your dog’s paws are on the surface where they’ll be laying.
Now you can start working on your release command as well. Say the word and lure them from their place by tossing a toy or treat, but don’t give them their big reward yet.
When your dog returns to their place on their own, get them to lay down and then reward them. You can build the duration of them laying down before releasing them.
Once they’ve gotten good at staying in place until released, you can start using the “place” command to have them lie down in their area.
This is a great trick to know if you’re going to have a lot of guests over or are going to be doing activities with small children that might get your dog wound up.
If you have a dog that’s an overzealous door-greeter, you can also use “place” to help everyone get in incident free.
This is an important command to help keep your dog safe. It can help to keep them out of food, gifts, and decorations during the holidays.
It’s also another important command to teach your dog as it can be used while out on walks and in daily life as well.
You’ll find a slip lead is helpful for learning this trick at first.
Have your dog on their lead before starting and be ready. You’re going to have to be quick for this one since your dog might go for the piece of food they’re supposed to leave.
Get your first treat and make sure they see it. Place it on the ground and give a very clear “leave it.”
If they go after the treat, use your slip lead and a verbal cue to correct and make sure they do not get the treat. When they look to you for more direction instead of going after the treat, reward them.
The important part of the process is to make sure you reward them with a different piece of food. Do not let them have the one that you set down for them to leave.
You don’t want to accidentally train your dog that ‘leave it’ means to leave the item alone, but once you break the command they’re allowed to have it. So, reward your dog with a separate treat and then pick up the other one while they’re busy.
Sometimes, our dogs are a little faster than we are or they manage to sneak something they shouldn’t have while everyone is distracted.
In case your dog manages to grab something they shouldn’t have, “drop it” could very well save them a stomach ache or even a vet visit.
If you and your dog don’t get this command at first, it’s okay. A lot of owners struggle with this one. It can be hard to get your dog to let go of something they feel is high value.
So, take a break, take your time, and make sure you practise as much as possible.
Start with a low value toy. Your dog should have interest in the toy, but not be excited about it.
Let them play with the toy for a few seconds and then place a high value treat down.
If you picked the right toy, they should drop it and go for the treat instead.
Praise them for dropping the toy to go after the treat. You should also move the toy out of view while they’re distracted so they don’t move to pick it up again.
Once your dog reliably drops their toy, add in the “drop it” command.
Your dog will start to get the hang of it and then you can swap out treats for other forms of praise such as pets and words.
Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog for Christmas
Everyone loves a well trained dog, but what’s better than a well trained dog? A well trained dog who knows cool tricks.
We’ve gotten the serious stuff out of the way and now we’re going to look at some tricks to teach your dog for Christmas that will hopefully dazzle your guests.
Not only that, but they’ll provide some fun and safe ways for your dog to join in the merriment with the rest of the family.
Shake or Paw
This trick is a classic, but it’s a really fun one and also easy to modify into a high five. The kids will love it and it’s a really easy trick for your dog to learn.
Hopefully you’ve been working on ‘sit’ because the first part of this trick is to have your dog in a sitting position.
Show your dog a treat and then hide it in a closed fist.
Your dog should pay at your hand to try and get the treat. When they do, open your hand and let them have the treat. Give them a chance to master this and then move onto the next step.
Hold your hand out flat without a treat. When they place their paw on your hand, you can use your opposite hand to reward them.
You can also introduce your command at this point since they know what is expected of them.
If you’d like a high five instead of a hand shake, you can hold your hand up at their nose level and repeat the steps above. The only thing that will change is the command you use.
Balancing a Cookie on Their Nose
Most of us have seen videos of this on the internet somewhere and it’s always an impressive trick.
For this, you’re going to need some treats and some patience. This trick can be difficult for dogs, especially those that are food driven.
One of the key components is to make sure you have some lower value treats. You want your dog to be interested, but not going crazy.
Sit and stay will both be useful commands for this trick.
Have your dog sit and stay for you. Then kneel in front of them and take out the treat you want to use.
Hold your dog’s chin in one hand and with the other, slowly place the treat on their nose. Hold it there for a few seconds and then remove it.
As soon as you remove the treat give a command like “okay” so that they know they no longer need to hold the position their in and give them a higher value treat.
You can also praise and give them a lot of positive attention at this point to help reinforce the behaviour of sitting still.
Slowly increase the amount of time you hold the treat on their nose before removing it and rewarding them. At this point you can also work on removing your hand from their chin.
The goal is to be able to have your dog balance the treat on their nose until you give them the release command. You’ll also want to slowly decrease how often you give them the higher value reward until you aren’t doing so at all.
Eventually, you should be able to stand and take a few steps back from your dog before giving them the go ahead to drop the treat from their nose and take it.
This is another pretty simple trick that the kids will really enjoy while playing with your dog. It’s pretty silly to watch your dog flop over and roll onto their back.
Start by getting your dog into a down position. If you haven’t worked on the ‘down’ command, you’ll want to do that first.
Once they’re down, encourage them to roll onto their side by placing a hand on their shoulder and offering some belly rubs.
Now, you need to get your dog to stay laying down while you stand up. This may take some time and patience, but your dog will figure it out. Don’t be discouraged.
Once they stay laying on their side, you can choose your command word.
Now you can work on getting your dog to lay down on their side by using the command word instead of physically guiding them along.
We hope that you enjoyed these tricks to teach your dog for Christmas and that they can make your holidays a little easier and brighter.
Your guests will delight in a well trained dog that listens well and does fun tricks. It can be especially enjoyable for the kids who always want to play with your dog when they visit.
Are there any tricks you’ve taught your dog that have made Christmas easier or more fun for the family? Do you or guests have a favourite?
Come on over to our social media page and share all of your holiday tricks. We’d love to hear from you.
FAQs About Tricks to Teach Your Dog for Christmas
Can All Dogs Learn Tricks for Christmas?
Yes, most dogs can learn tricks for Christmas, regardless of breed or age. It's important to choose tricks suitable for your dog's physical abilities and temperament. Start with basic commands and gradually progress to more complex tricks, ensuring a positive and rewarding learning experience for your dog.
How Can Teaching My Dog Tricks Improve Holiday Gatherings?
Teaching your dog tricks like 'Sit', 'Place', and 'Leave It' can significantly improve behaviour during holiday gatherings. These commands help manage your dog's excitement around guests and prevent them from engaging in unwanted behaviours, like jumping on people or snatching food.
Is It Beneficial to Teach My Dog Tricks If They Are Already Well-Behaved?
Absolutely! Teaching tricks is not just about improving behaviour; it's also an excellent way to strengthen your bond with your dog and provide mental stimulation. Tricks like 'Shake' or 'Play Dead' are fun and engaging for both you and your dog, enhancing your relationship and keeping your dog mentally active.
Are Christmas Dog Tricks Suitable for Senior Dogs?
Yes, Christmas dog tricks can be suitable for senior dogs, provided you tailor the tricks to their physical capabilities and comfort levels. Avoid tricks that require a lot of physical exertion and focus on simpler, mentally stimulating activities to keep them engaged and happy.
Can Teaching Tricks Help My Dog Cope with Holiday Stress?
Yes, teaching your dog tricks can be a great way to help them cope with the stress and excitement of the holiday season. Engaging in trick training provides mental stimulation, which can be soothing for dogs. It also offers a structured way for them to participate in the festivities, making them feel included and more at ease during busy times.