“Sit…stand…walk…roll over…great job, buddy!”
The sounds of praise, laughter and clapping are frequent visitors to your house as you watch your dog perform their classic tricks. Your furry best friend is quite the entertainer!
Since Fido is a star, you randomly invite some friends over to enjoy the show.
“Ok, jump! Go in circles…in and out…” you chant.
But your commands which are normally met with gleeful obedience, seem to be falling on deaf ears…and a set of puppy dog eyes blinking blankly up at you.
You shake it off and chalk it up to your pup having an off day. But inside, you wonder: why has my dog stopped doing tricks? What’s going on?
Your dog may have stopped doing tricks for several reasons, including physical or mental health issues, lack of motivation or rewards, training mistakes, inconsistencies, or changes in their environment or routine. Making proper adjustments makes it possible to get your dog back on track.
In this article, I will help you understand the possible reasons your dog has stopped doing tricks. I will also provide guidance to help revive your dog’s love for tricks. Finally, I will outline the common mistakes to avoid and reveal insider secrets for success.
Of course, your pup doesn’t have to do anything extra to win your love, but you must admit: tricks are fun! And your pup has always seemed to genuinely enjoy doing them.
Regardless of what may be throwing off your pup’s performance, there are ways to get them back on top.
Let’s get into it!
If it seems like your dog has transformed from mega ham to super sheepish overnight, there is likely a reason why. Your pup may not be into doing the same old tricks for many reasons.
Here are a few:
If your dog isn’t up for doing their usual tricks, they may be in pain. Depending on what the issue is, the motion of the trick may cause them pain in a certain body part. Or they may feel too unwell overall to perform at all.
Your dog’s mental health could certainly cause them not to want to do their usual tricks. A pup suffering from anxiety, loneliness, or even doggy depression may feel too uncomfortable or shy to show off.
Do you praise or reward your dog enough when they do their tricks? If your dog doesn’t get sufficient positive reinforcement, they may feel demotivated to put on a show.
This goes double if they aren’t impressed or attracted to the dog treats you offer them for all their hard work. Treats that don’t smell, taste or look yummy enough to them may not make them want to give their all.
Training that is haphazard, confusing, or subpar can also cause your pup to be unable to perform. In this case, they may be unclear on how to do the actual trick. Or if you haven’t been consistent enough with training them, they may have simply forgotten it altogether!
Has anything changed in your dog’s environment or routine lately? Dogs are sensitive and can pick up on changes if things in the household are different. This could include changes like a new child or animal being added to the home, a death, or a move to a new place.
Deep down, a dog who once loved doing tricks is likely a dog who still loves doing them. Want to see if your pup still has it in them? Here are some ways to revive their love for tricks:
To get to the root of the problem, try observing your pup and closely examining their patterns. Is there any common thread you see as to why they seem not to want to do their tricks anymore?
So, you’ve investigated your pup on your own but still can’t seem to figure this all out?
Your vet may be the next phone call you will want to make. They will be able to examine your pup for any physical problems and can also identify any potential mental issues. You can also contact a dog trainer or behaviorist to help you get to the bottom of things.
Your dog may be over their tricks because they’re simply bored of them! You can make their experience of doing tricks more exciting by adding physical stimulation like petting, cuddling, or wrestling into the mix. If mental stimulation is what you think your pup may need, try working on some doggy games or puzzles as they execute their tricks.
Praise and treats can also go a long way to motivate your pup! Everyone likes to know that they’re doing a great job, including your dog! So go ahead and shower your pup with words of affirmation and their favorite treats each time they perform their tricks.
When your dog’s enthusiasm for their tricks begins to wane, try taking it back to the basics. Do a mental rundown of how you’ve trained them. Contemplate what has worked and try doing more of that. Feel free to dump anything that may be ineffective, unclear or even harmful to your pup.
Changing up your dog’s environment or routine may also help them get back into the groove of things. Can you remember the setting or patterns that worked back when your pup loved doing their tricks? Think back and try to see if mimicking those things can re-spark their passion.
As you experiment to find what does and does not work for your pup, feel free to switch things up! However, there are a few things that universally probably won’t work for your dog.
Some of these things are:
At the end of the day, your dog is your friend. No matter how your dog acts as you try to get them to do their tricks, it is important not to punish them. You also don’t want to negatively reinforce them by giving them a big reaction. Your pup might like the attention they get from disobeying your commands and might just do it all the more.
Of course, you want to see your dog performing their tricks, but no need to push them prematurely. You will likely get the best results from your pup if you are calm, understanding, and patient with them.
Your dog might need a little extra love to get themselves pumped up! Make sure not to hold back rewards and reinforcement from them.
If you see something you’re doing in your training is working, go for it! Editing your approach in guiding them with their tricks is totally okay and never has to be set in stone. If it’s working, keep it up but go ahead and experiment!
Observing your dog and making necessary adjustments to their training are great tactics for getting your pup back to their old tricks.
Here are a few extra tips that may be the secret sauce for your success:
Sometimes professionals really do know best! If you’ve tried all you can but feel like you’re still not breaking through, try reaching out to a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They have the proper training to help get your dog on the right track!
Above all else, the closeness you share with your dog will really help throughout this process. Try centering any training you do with your dog around, not only helping them learn their tricks but also strengthening your connection. This is where mutual trust, respect, and love can grow.
Set your pup up for success by training them in a way that is consistent. This way, they know what you expect from them and what they should expect from you. And your patience is key as it sets the tone for a stress-free learning experience.
Don’t feel shy about switching things up with your pup! If your dog feels comfortable, keep their training sessions interesting by training at different times of day, adding in other dogs or people, and experimenting with different rewards. Trying new and more adventurous tricks can also help to challenge your dog if they’re game!
…who knows, but you may be able to teach them to love their old tricks!
Perhaps your pup is truly a performer at heart, but something is currently getting in the way. Physical or mental issues could be to blame. Or maybe your dog simply isn’t feeling motivated enough by your rewards.
Thankfully, little tweaks to their training, rewards, or environment can help spring them into motion.
You may wish you could simply snap your fingers to get your dog to do tricks like they used to.
But have patience!
With a little care and adjustments on your end, your dog will be back to their old tricks in no time!