How do I teach my dog tricks without a clicker? A Step-by-Step Guide

I hear it a lot: “Do I HAVE to use the clicker?”

While I highly suggest using the clicker, nothing says it’s a requirement to teach your dog. However, what makes the clicker a useful tool is that it:

  • sounds the same every time
  • carries no emotion — every click is the same
  • doesn’t need “translation”
  • is unique — doesn’t sound like anything else in the environment
  • The clicker is definitely my tool of choice, but there are times when it’s not convenient to carry the clicker. Or, what if you find yourself without the clicker (or don’t want to be burdened by carrying it with you)?

    Easy peasy: Use “YIP!” instead.

    Yip is a nonsense word that I say in a high-pitched, enthusiastic voice that stands in place of the clicker. It fulfills the same criteria listed above for the clicker, so I think it’s a great stand-in for the click.

    Use it just like you would use the clicker. Both the clicker and the yip are called “markers.” That means they mark the exact moment the dog is doing what you want and it also means the dog earned a goodie. To teach your dog that yip = treat, simply pair the yip with the appearance of the treat. Say yip and then reach to give your dog a treat. Repeat about te n times and your dog will understand the meaning (and value) of yip.

    Use it whenever you want to tell your dog he’s done something right and can expect payment! When I’m training service dogs, they sometimes accompany me to public places like the library, a restaurant, or the movies. I’d be the villain if I clicked my way through a dinner or a movie, so I leave the clicker (but not the treats!) at home. I can modulate the volume of yip so I’m not annoying fellow movie goers with the essential training the service dogs need.

    You might use yip in place of the clicker when your hands are full — maybe when you’re working on trimming nails or another grooming task that takes two hands. Or maybe when you’re walking two dogs at the same time. Or, not that this would happen to you, but maybe you forgot your clicker at home (or like me: just can’t find it!). The yip stands in whenever you don’t (or can’t) have your clicker on you.

    The rules are the same no matter which marker you use:

  • If you yip, you must treat.
  • Yip only for stuff you want your dog to do more of (in other words, don’t yip to get your dog’s attention or get him to stop doing something)
  • Yip first, then treat.
  • Sign up for the Dummies Beta Program to try Dummies’ newest way to learn.

    As you teach your dog each step of a new trick, you can mark the right behavior in at least two ways. Try the following options:

  • Use a clicker. A clicker emits a sharp, clicking sound, distinct from all other sounds in your dog’s day. The click is always followed by a food or toy reward.
  • Say “Yes!” You can also target the right behavior by saying a word like “Yes” enthusiastically. Whenever your dog responds properly to your direction, say “Yes!” and reward her with food, toys, oraffection.
  • Here are three quick tips on how to target the right behavior:

  • Timing is everything. Think of photographing the perfect — click or say “Yes” the second your dog gets it right.
  • When using a clicker, pair each click with a reward — food or a toy. Marry the sound with the reward — never the two shall part!
  • When using food, it’s the quality not the quantity that counts. A tiny delectable goody will result in a quick and eager performance every time!
  • Take a Card from a Deck29

    Have you ever wished you could see your dog in one of those dogs-playing-poker paintings? Well, this trick won’t teach your dog to play poker, but it’s a start.

  • Offer just a single playing card to your dog (it will help a big dog to have oversized playing cards) and tell it to “take it.” When the dog takes the card, reward it with praise and a treat. (Take care not to move the card, as this may give your canine a paper cut and make it never want to touch a card again.)
  • When your dog has gotten used to taking a card, try putting three cards in front of it, fanned out, and commanding it to take one. If you want your dog to take a specific card, it will help to have that one sticking out a bit further than the rest. If you don’t care about which card it takes, then putting one out a bit more won’t matter.
  • Once your dog gets the hang of the trick, you can add more cards, maybe even getting to the point where you can use an entire deck.
  • Next step: teaching your dog to place a bet.

    Check out Jilli Dog playing poker with her owner.

    Getting a dog to refuse food sounds like an impossibility, but with a little patience and a lot of hard work, you can get your dog to completely ignore food (as long as it gets a tasty treat, of course).For this trick, don’t use the usual sort of treats you would give your dog to reward it, lest it get confused. Also, you’ll need to make sure your dog is sufficiently well-trained so it doesn’t just lunge at the food and grab it.

  • Present some kind of food to your dog.
  • When your dog is excited for the food, use the command “yuck” in a low tone of voice and pull the treat away.
  • Repeat this until your dog starts turning its head away from the food being offered. When it does this, reward it with praise and a treat other than the food you are trying to get it to refuse.
  • You can work up to this head turning by watching your dog’s eyes. Start praising it when it looks away from the food. If you keep this up, it should eventually start turning its head away completely for extended periods. Make sure you are using your yuck command to initiate the trick.
  • Be consistent when you treat your dog. Once it gets to the level of turning its head completely away, don’t reward it for anything less than that full action.
  • With this trick, you’re trying to outsmart your dog’s nose, which is not an easy task.

  • Start with one cup. Put a treat with a strong aroma under an overturned cup. Make sure your dog sees you do this.
  • Use the command “find it” to encourage your dog to try and get the treat.
  • When it paws at the cup or bumps the cup with its nose, lift up the cup and give your dog the reward.
  • You can influence whether the dog paws at the cup or uses its nose to indicate the cup by only rewarding the action you desire.
  • Once your dog is familiar with the command and desired action, introduce more cups into the trick and encourage your dog to find the treat using your find it command. Do not shuffle the cups at this stage.
  • Don’t let your dog forcefully overturn the cup, as this isn’t the desired behavior. You simply want it to indicate the cup via pawing at it or bumping the cup with its nose.
  • If your dog picks the incorrect cup, calmly say “whoops,” but do not reward it. Only reward your dog for the correct cup.
  • After your dog has mastered finding the treat from the unshuffled lineup of cups, begin to shuffle them, simply at first and then more complex as it gets better at picking the right cup.
  • Practice for complete mastery.
  • To give your dog a better chance at picking the right cup, try rubbing the treat on the inside of the cup to make it smell like the treat more.

    This little dog knows where those treats are.

    Once you teach your dog to walk itself, you can just send it outside for a walk without having to go yourself if you’re too busy. Okay … that’s not actually how things work, but this is still a cute little trick to teach a dog. You can even teach a dog to walk another dog if it’s calm enough.

  • Fold up your dog’s leash. (If you usually use a retractable leash, you’ll need to get a non-retractable one for this trick.)
  • Give your dog the leash and command it to hold the leash with the “take it” command.
  • After it has held the leash in its mouth for a short period, take it back and reward it with praise and a treat.
  • Next, walk beside your dog while holding the folded up leash in its mouth. Obviously, your dog will have to know how to walk calmly. If it hasn’t mastered this yet, you should start by teaching it to heel.
  • Once it’s gotten used to walking with the leash in its mouth, unfold the leash and clip it to the dog’s collar and present the looped end to it and get the dog to take the looped end of the leash as it had done previously.
  • Continue to walk beside your dog and make sure you stop immediately if your dog drops the leash. If it does, get it to take the leash again.
  • Continue to practice and you will eventually get to the point where you don’t have to walk beside it anymore. It will simply walk itself.
  • If you have another dog that is calm enough, you can introduce it into the trick gradually once your dog has mastered the initial trick.
  • The walk yourself trick will impress friends and strangers alike.

    Every dog has its own little flair for doing the bang trick. Even other animals have mastered this cute trick, where they pretend to be shot and fall over dead.

  • your dog start in the sitting position and get it to lie down in its down position.
  • Coax it further with a treat to roll onto its side, taking note which side it prefers to roll onto. You can take the treat and move it from your dog’s nose to its shoulder and then onto the ground.
  • Practice this move, going from sitting to lying on its side with the verbal command of “bang.”
  • Repeat until your dog understands the bang command.
  • After your dog has the verbal bang command down, introduce the visual pistol cue by holding your hand like a pistol (pointer finger pointed at your dog, thumb in the air and your three other fingers tucked in like a fist).
  • Give your bang command, drop your thumb like the hammer on a pistol and watch your dog flop to the ground in its best Hollywood death scene performance.
  • Maybe it’ll win an Oscar! This dog deserves one.

    Having two different animals perform a trick together adds a whole other element to the trick. However, be careful that you don’t injure yourself, your dog or the horse when attempting this trick. You should be familiar with both animals, they should be familiar with and friendly with each other and the dog and horse should both have a calm demeanor. If there is any doubt whatsoever about any of these elements, do not attempt this trick.

  • Tie the horse up next to a platform about the height of a picnic table.
  • Get your dog up on the platform and encourage it to place its front paws on the horse’s back. Encourage your dog to get up on the horse’s back and reward its efforts. Practice until both your dog and the horse are comfortable with these steps.
  • Pick your dog up and place it on the horse’s back, being mindful of either animal showing fear. Do not attempt to put a fearful dog on a horse or put a dog on a fearful horse. If either animal looks the least bit uncomfortable, abandon the trick.
  • Once your dog is on the horse’s back, get its favorite treat and reward it generously. You want it to associate this accomplishment with its favorite reward.
  • Once you’ve practiced enough that both animals are comfortable with the dog being on the horse’s back, remove the dog from the horse and place it back on the platform.
  • Hold a treat on your horse’s saddle outside of your dog’s reach and use the command “up” to encourage your dog to jump onto the back of the horse.
  • Having your dog jump onto its back is going to be a bit jarring for the horse, so this part of the trick should be taught last and you should use extreme caution while teaching it.
  • Practice these maneuvers and if all goes well, make sure you give both the animals a big treat.
  • This Jack Russell and miniature horse even do a show together.

    A fun dance move to teach your dog. Just make sure it doesn’t get dizzy!

  • Take a treat and hold it near your dog’s head and move your hand in either a clockwise or counterclockwise motion, enticing your dog to follow the treat.
  • Use the command “spin” and when your dog does a complete circle, give it the treat.
  • Repeat and practice this move while slowly reducing the amount of luring needed for your dog to complete a full circle. Ideally, you want to get to the point where you can simply give the verbal command or a visual command with a quick flick of your wrist.
  • Once your dog has mastered spinning one way, try having it spin the other way.
  • If you want a further challenge, try using a different command for the directions so you can get your dog to spin either clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • This little dog has been trained to spin when it hears “do you.”

    Sometimes you’d prefer a wave to a handshake. No problem! It’s easy to teach your dog to wave hello and goodbye.

  • Get your dog to sit.
  • Command your dog to shake a paw, but place your hand at or above the level of your dog’s head.
  • Use the command “bye” when they attempt to shake your hand.
  • When it does try to shake your hand, quickly pull your hand away and wave to your dog. (This will be an up and down waver rather than a side to side wave.)
  • When you pull your hand back, your dog will miss it and just get air. When it does this, praise and reward it.
  • Make sure you are praising the actual waving motion and not just your dog missing your hand. It will take some time for it to get the hang of it.
  • This pup knows how to wave well.

    Clicker Training Without A Clicker – Professional Dog Training Tips

    Have you ever seen a well-trained dog in action? They are capable of doing some amazing things. You may have even wished that your own untrained pooch was capable of pulling off some crazy tricks.

    Well, wish no more. With these 40 tricks to teach a dog, you can totally get your pooch up to speed on the basics, plus more advanced tricks.

    Have plenty of healthy treats on hand, keep training sessions between five and 15 minutes to avoid having your dog lose interest and be enthusiastic when it accomplishes something you want it to do.

    Don’t jump right into the hard stuff. It’s important for your dog to learn some basic stuff first. Most of all, it has to learn to sit still while waiting for treats. A dog that is jumping up and down, trying to snatch a treat out of your hand is not a well-trained dog.

    Having said that, though, you should be rewarding your dog for the behavior you want from it immediately so it associates the behavior being taught with receiving a treat. If you wait too long to reward a dog, it will not know what it’s getting the treat for and no association will be made.

    Many people have adopted the clicker method of training where you teach your dog to associate clicks with good behavior. You can do this, but introducing a clicker into your dog’s training isn’t necessary. Dogs have been trained for thousands of years without clickers and it’s possible for anyone to train them without the use of clickers as long as they have patience and enthusiasm for what they’re doing.

    Use short commands so they’re easy for your dog to understand and follow. Be cognizant that your dog will almost certainly not learn any of these tricks quickly. It takes a lot of repetition for a dog to learn these behaviors, which is why you should only do them for a maximum of 15 minutes per day. That may not seem like a long time, but it adds up over the days and keeps your dog from getting bored with learning.

    This is the first trick most people will teach their dog. It’s useful for getting hyper dogs to calm down and it’s probably the easiest one for them to learn.

    Especially sneaky dogs will learn to army crawl all on their own if they are trying to grab a snack while not being seen. For other dogs, though, they need a little help.

    Your dog might even get to the point where it doesn’t need the command to do the trick. Some dogs will shake your hand if you simply raise your hand in front of them.

    People equate dogs licking their face with kisses, but any old dog can lick a person’s face. It takes training to get your dog to offer what we humans might call a ‘peck’ on the cheek.

    Be careful with dogs who like to nip when they get excited and with extra big dogs who might accidentally headbutt you.

    Enjoy the doggy love without the doggy slobber! Check out this bulldog baby kissing a human baby. So cute!

    Teaching your dog to be ashamed may sound odd, but you’re not actually teaching it to be ashamed, you’re simply teaching it to look ashamed. Think of when a person does something embarrassing and they look down and shield their eyes with their hand. That’s what you want your dog to do so it looks ashamed.

    Dancing is usually associated with small dogs, but big dogs can get their two-step on under the right circumstances. Overweight dogs or dogs that have issues with their hind legs are not recommended for dancing, though.

    Be careful if you have a particularly big dog who may not be steady on its feet. If it falls, it could easily take you with it.

    Sometimes you want your dog to do more than just shake your hand. Sometimes you’d like it to salute you or someone else.

    For a real surprise, train your dog to salute and then next time your friend or family member who has a military background comes to visit, show them what your dog can do.

    Shorter dogs may find skateboarding easier than larger dogs because of their low centers of gravity and shorter legs. While it would be really great to get your dog to propel itself while on a skateboard, this trick is just getting your dog to ride a skateboard.

    A trick that will easily impress all who see it, the handstand isn’t easy and some dogs may not be able to do it. Toy dogs like chihuahuas can perform this trick best because their big heads and small bodies give them the right balance to do this trick naturally.Big dogs can learn this trick, but you must use extreme caution with them.

    Remember, plenty of praise. You will know when your dog is ready to graduate to the next step by how easily it places its back feet on the blocks or books and the wall.

    It’s just like real fetch, but with water. This may sound odd to people who own dogs that are natural swimmers, but some smaller breeds may actually need to be taught how to swim and short-legged dogs may even need floatation devices.

    Take care not to tire your dog out, especially if it’s just gotten used to this whole swimming thing.

    Although it would be basically impossible to teach your dog any songs on piano, you can teach it to “play” by hitting random keys.Although larger dogs should be able to play on a standard sized keyboard, you likely wouldn’t want to sacrifice a real piano for this trick. It’s best to get an old toy piano or keyboard from somewhere.

    If your dog is having a little trouble getting started, try placing treats on the keys so it presses them down with its nose when it retrieves the treats.

    It’s adorable when small children play it and it’s equally adorable when dogs can play peek-a-boo. Teaching your dog this trick is fairly easy, but you’ll already be halfway there if it knows how to shake hands.

    This is not so much a trick as a skill. Of course, dogs can naturally walk backward, but the real trick is to get it to do so on command. Getting your dog to walk backward on command will be useful for when you need your dog to back away from a situation. It will also help improve coordination for your dog.

    Depending on your living situation, you may not want to teach your dog to open doors, as this could lead to it escaping and putting it in danger.You should teach your dogs to only open doors with ropes attached to them, as this will save wear and tear on both the doors and your dog’s teeth. Plus, it will discourage your dog from opening exterior doors.