Tricks You Won’t Teach Your Dog


The one trick I will never teach Mr. N is “limp.” It always drives me into a tizzy whenever I see him limping (usually because he has something caught in his paw). And someone has already learned that limping means attention. He started fake limping once in class when he felt like I wasn’t paying attention to him. I don’t need more unnecessary panic in my life.

I’ve heard of conformation people not teaching “sit,” people with long-backed dogs not teaching “sit pretty,” not teaching “play dead” because it’s too morbid and big dog people not teaching rebound and back stalls because really do you want a 70-pound dog trying to bounce off your stomach?

A trick I do want to teach him that a lot of people refuse to teach is “speak.” He alerts barks and play barks but he’s not one of those dogs that is enthralled with the sound of their own voice or alerts to every falling leaf. And he will generally shush when I tell him to so I’m not worried that I’m going to create a barking monster.

You can’t make me bark when I don’t want to.

But when I actually want him to bark, he refuses. I sometimes think that he thinks it’s rude to bark without a good reason. I’ve tried everything I can think of. I’ve played animal noises on Youtube to see if he will react. I’ve made various high-pitched noises at him. I’ve teased him with a treat and refused to give it to him to see if he will bark out of frustration (he thinks it’s very rude and will go away and turn his back to me).

I fake knocked at the door and had other people try it as well. A trainer suggested that method when I told him about it. I told him Mr. N can distinguish between real knocking at the door and fake knocking and doesn’t react to the fake noise. I don’t think the trainer believed me. He tried knocking where Mr. N couldn’t see and Mr. N was not impressed.

Nada. If anyone has any brilliant ideas, I’m all ears.

What do you refuse to teach your dog? And why?




37 Responses

  1. Janet Keefe

    July 15, 2016 7:51 pm

    LOL…that Mr. N is just too smart! I've never had much luck with teaching "speak" either, but I think I did have some success with our Lab mix Maggie just by using the word when she was barking for other reasons (I've tried the same approach with "shake (off water)" without much success though!). Luke and Cricket bark at everything, but I would still teach them "speak". I almost think it might help them to learn more to only bark when told to? I don't know, that's just a thought!
    I've avoided things like "sit pretty" or anything along those lines that might put strain on Luke's knees since he has the luxating patellas. I definitely would pass on limping too – we see enough of that as it is!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  2. Denise Gruzensky

    July 15, 2016 10:05 pm

    Oh my goodness Mr. N you are too smart for all of our good! I love that you showed that instructor just how smart you were "seeing through" his fake knock. You do however, make it more difficult for your Dog Mom!! BOL

  3. Cathy Armato

    July 16, 2016 6:03 pm

    Ha Ha! You cannot fool the wise Mr. N! He's sees right through you. I don't teach my Husky to speak either, she has two barks/howls, one is adorable the other sounds like a dragon. I don't need the dragon lady coming out, LOL!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  4. Maggie

    July 17, 2016 6:17 pm

    No joke, it took Emmett almost three years to learn to bark on cue. He just isn't a natural barker, so it was a challenge to get him to bark at all… let alone purposefully to mark and reward! Perseverance was really the only way, capturing it whenever we possibly could.

    I have a friend who taught her dog to open the fridge as a fun party trick. I REFUSE to teach that because these guys would do it all the time and help themselves… I'd have to childproof it if they ever figured it out!!

  5. FiveSibesMom

    July 17, 2016 8:56 pm

    What a cute photo! I totally agree and wouldn't teach the limp trick! This is the first I've even heard of it! I fear my Huskies would totally use that for more treats!

  6. Sweet Purrfections

    July 18, 2016 1:22 am

    I've tried to teach my mom's dog to "speak" but he, too, also knows the difference between real and fake knocks at the door. He has his own bark language for when he needs something.

  7. Tricia Clements MuttButs

    July 18, 2016 2:46 am

    I wouldn't teach my dogs to limp either. They are both seniors now and Riedi has arthritis issues. Can't believe Mr. N tried to trick you to get attention by limping. Luckily mine haven't found out they can try to trick me. I haven't tried to train mine many things except sit and Give when they have a toy and leave it. Just basic commands.

  8. Rosa Doodle

    July 18, 2016 12:49 pm

    Mr. N is one smart pup. I really enjoy reading your blog and all his travel and antics. I'm not sure I would teach my dog to speak. There's no real purpose to it.

  9. Valerie

    July 18, 2016 7:21 pm

    Dogs are so smart! It's funny that you mentioned 'fake limping', since my dog 'fake pees' when my father in law is around! He always gives her a cookie, after she peed, so now, she fake pees around him!! Haha!!

  10. Bryn Nowell

    July 19, 2016 1:22 pm

    I think Mr.N is smarter than a lot of people I know! He knows how to work the system which is awesome for him and frustrating for you! Bean has learned to fake scratch because we normally give her attention if she's actually scratching. She now does it more with Yoda in the home sucking attention away from her. It blows my mind what they are able to accomplish.

    I wish I had training feedback for you. If I hear of something…I'll send the information along to you!

  11. Beth

    July 24, 2016 1:25 am

    I'm with you on limp. I refused to teach Barley that one when we did a tricks and games class. I would like to teach her to sneeze on command, though–she sneezes when she wants attention and our trainer says she can be trained to do it, but timing is everything and I'm never prepared to reward sneezing when she thinks she's not getting enough attention 😉


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