Does your dog have a cheerful personality? If not, you might want to teach them how to smile! This blog post will offer helpful tips and tricks on how to teach your pup to show their teeth in a happy way. In the first section of this post, we’ll talk about why dogs need to learn how to smile. The second section will share three easy techniques that can help get your puppy’s tail wagging in no time!
Let’s get started with what you need for this project: A treat dispenser or toy that dispenses treats when squeezed, a clicker, and small pieces of food or treats that are cut into tiny squares or thin strips.
Sit on the floor next to your dog and place some small treats around your body. With your dog sitting next to you, take a treat and bring it up towards their nose and then quickly move it away from them, as though you’re drawing a smile or letter “J” on their face. Repeat this motion several times until your dog is looking at the treat instead of watching where it’s moving on their face.
As they look at the treat more and more, start moving downwards towards their chin (but not touching). If they follow the treat with their eyes and head turned slightly upwards, click/praise & give them a treat!
If your dog doesn’t turn their head after 3 or more tries, they might not be interested or you’re going too fast. When your dog is successfully following the treat as it moves downwards on their chin towards their neck, move on to step two!
Two paws up
After your pup turns their head towards the treats as they move down their chin, it’s time to start working on those paws! Place some small treats around your body again and have them sit next to you. Put a treat in one of your hands between your thumb and index finger so that only the very end of the treat is showing through.
As your dog sits next to you, slowly raise one hand up near their shoulder/neck area while keeping the other hand stationary behind your back. When they stand up on their 2 front paws to look at the treat in your hand, quickly click and give them the treat from behind your back. Repeat this step several times before moving on to step three!
It’s time for that tail wagging we’ve been waiting for. It’s important that you do these next few steps fairly quickly as it will build anticipation and excitement for your dog – they’ll be eager to figure out what happens next! Put some treats around your body and have them sit next to you once again.
Hold a treat between two fingers above their head (like a tiny balloon) and wait until they start smiling (lifting their lips slightly). As soon as they begin smiling, quickly eat the treat yourself with your fingers, click and give them a treat from your hand. Repeat this step several times until they can successfully smile on command!
Using a Toy
Sometimes dogs aren’t too into treats, which is why it’s important to have other options available. Clickers are great for teaching all kinds of fun tricks, but what if you don’t want to buy one or only have the option of using food with your pup? You can always use toys instead! I like using playtime as an opportunity to teach my dog new skills with interactive toys that reward them when they do something right.
You can hide small pieces of their favorite treats inside the toy before playing and then let them “dig” it out when they roll or push the toy around. Your dog will feel rewarded after every completed task, making playtime a fun and delicious experience for both of you!
Smiling at Humans
There’s one last step we can take to make sure that our dogs are ready to show off their new skills to friends and family members. Since humans communicate smiles with each other all day, why not teach your pooch how to do the same with us? This is an especially good trick for those who like bragging about their pups online 😉
This next step will be similar to the head-turning technique we did before, but instead of using treats as a motivator we’ll use a clicker. Place some small treats around your body again, have them sit next to you and then hold a treat in one of your hands between your thumb and index finger so that only the very end is showing through.
As they stand up on their two front paws to look at the treat in your hand, quickly click and give them the treat from behind your back. Repeat this step several times until they can successfully smile on command!
Editor’s note: Even though it says “smile” many people might want to use “J” as it looks more like a letter – try both ways to see which one works best for you & your dog 🙂
Also, if you’re working with multiple people, sometimes it’s helpful to say commands out loud to remind people of what step they’re on.
Use the “smile” command in one hand, with your palm down and fingers together, while using the other hand to click & treat when they smile! If you have trouble fitting both hands behind your back when your dog is sitting up high, try starting with them laying down or in a sit/stay where you can hold the treat over their head for them to look at. Only move on to this once they are already smiling reliably.
Over time, use less treats so that they only get rewarded every 5th-10th successful repetition until it becomes second nature for them to reward themselves after completing each task! There you go – now you know exactly how to teach your dog to smile on cue.
You can also follow the below techniques to smile your dog-
Introduce your dog to the camera
Give him a treat or toy and make sure he’s looking at the camera
Smile for the camera, then give it to your dog
Put treats on top of his nose so he has to look up, which will make him smile
Gently touch his lips with a wet washcloth (or use peanut butter)
Use an app like PupSnap that takes photos automatically when you pet your pup
There are so many reasons to smile, and it’s important for both you and your dog. With some small adjustments in the way you interact with your pup, he may just end up smiling on his own! Check out these four easy ways to teach your dog how to smile.