How to Teach Your Dog Fun and Useful Skills

Chances are you’ve seen plenty of TikTok and Instagram reels and videos showing dogs bringing something from the fridge, cleaning up after playtime, doing the laundry, opening doors, and doing other handy things. Some dogs, like Border Collies, are naturally suited to learning such skills. But with time, patience, and at least five minutes of training daily, you can teach any dog new tricks. If you’ve ever wondered if you could teach your dog similar skills, today you’ll learn how!

Teach Your Dog to Clean Up Toys

Find a toy your dog really likes. Every time they engage with the toy, mark it with a cue word, like “rope,” and give them a treat. Offer the toy to your dog and give them a treat when they take it and hold it in their mouth. If the dog drops the toy, don’t offer a reward.

Now it’s time to teach them “drop it.” Ask your dog to get the toy and wait for them to put it down. When they do, say “drop it” and reward them with a treat. Once they’ve got that down, you can teach them where they’re supposed to drop the toy. Hold the toy over a laundry basket. Wait for your dog to grab onto it, then say “drop it.” Say “basket” when the toy lands in the basket, and reward them with treats.

The last step is to set the toy on the floor, wait for your dog to pick it up, and say “drop it basket”. Once your dog picks up the toy and puts it in the basket, offer multiple treats.

Show them How to Open a Door

Opening and closing doors is something service dogs often learn, but any dog can learn how to do it. Here are the steps to follow to teach your dog to open a refrigerator, cabinet, or similar door:

  1. Tie a cloth around the door handle
  2. Encourage your dog to tug at the cloth
  3. Wait until they tug the door open
  4. Mark the behavior with a cue word, such as “open”
  5. Offer praise and reward
  6. Continue practicing until you can say “open” and your dog opens the door

Teach Them to Close a Door

Attach a sticky note to the door around nose height. Prompt your furry friend to touch the target with their nose or paw. Offer praise and treats when they touch it. Repeat, offering even more praise and treats when your dog gives a good push instead of just a nudge.

When your dog manages to close the door, mark it with a cue word, like “close,” and offer high praise and lots of treats. Once your dog learns to respond to “close,” remove the sticky note. You can also practice with new doors.

Get Your Dog to Fetch Specific Items

Start by drawing your dog’s attention to an object. When they come over and show interest, say the name of the object and reward your pup. Then, place the object at a short distance and encourage your dog to go toward it. Praise as they get close to it, sniff/touch it, and eventually pick it up. Once they have the object, encourage them to return it to you with enthusiastic praise. If your pup drops the object, try again from a shorter distance, and then gradually increase the distance and challenge. Eventually, you can tell your dog the name of the object and they’ll get it for you, wherever it is.

From there, you can teach your dog the names of multiple objects, and they’ll learn to fetch them for you when you ask.

Aleksandar Mishkov is a 36-year-old dog enthusiast. He has been living with dogs his entire life, and nowadays, he shares his life with a 6-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Milo. Visit Aleksander at his website, The Daily Tail, where he shares helpful tips on how to train and make sure your dog behaves properly.

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