Bringing my puppy Marlie home was an incredibly exciting time in my life, especially when I started to think about all of the amazing tricks she could learn. After teaching her how to sit, lie down, and give me her paw I thought it would be great if I could learn how to teach my dog to smile. There are plenty tricks that I found during my research, but only a few worked with Marlie.
At first, I assumed that dog training was a fun activity, but as she grew older, I learned that it is an important part of obedience training as well. After teaching Marlie a variety of commands, I began to notice that she was listening to me more often with other things such as staying out of the kitchen and sleeping in her own bed. I also learned that while training I was able to help her develop socialization skills, simply because each session was enhancing her psychological capabilities.
If you’re looking for a way to create a stronger bond with your dog, training the dog to smile is important, and you should use this guide to master it easier.
What You will Need
Reward or Rewarding Device (Treat, Training Clicker, or Toy)
While training, it’s important to reward your dog as soon as it obeys your command. This helps to teach your dog that once she listens to you, a tasty treat or praise is coming. In time, the dog will then associate a great reward with a particular verbal or physical command.
This tool is essential for dogs that don’t typically show their teeth on command. It’s common for dogs to “smile” when they’re preparing for their teeth to be brushed.
Teach Your Dog To Smile
1. Watch for Natural Behavior
Unlike teaching your dog how to sit, it’s difficult to show them that you want to see a smile without being able to put them in a fixed position physically. It’s important to watch for natural behavior because when you see the dog smiling, you’ll need to reinforce the behavior.
You can use a verbal prompt such as saying “Smile” and then reward the dog with a treat. Continue to watch for natural behavior throughout the day and reward him/her accordingly.
2. Establish an Authoritative Posture
One of the most important tips while training is to make sure your dog has respect for you as an authoritative figure. By standing tall and keeping your chest out, they’ll understand that you are the dominant person in the family.
It’s also important to keep your hands in view at all times so your dog will know that you’re commanding them to do something, whether you have treats or not. I found that this made it much easier to motivate Marlie to obey my commands even when I didn’t have a treat available.
3. Use a Toothbrush to Show Teeth
If you’ve found that your dog doesn’t smile naturally, it’s time to use the toothbrush. This step will be particularly easy for pet owners that regularly brush their dog’s teeth because most dogs will show their teeth and “smile” when they see the familiar toothbrush.
Bring the toothbrush close to the dog’s mouth and when they show their teeth say “Smile”, then reward him/her with a treat.
4. Repeat the Command 5-15 Times Per Day
This is the most difficult part of training as it’s a battle between your patience and the obedience of your pet. With Marlie, I had to say, “Smile” up to 15 times per day for a solid week before it became like second nature to her.
It’s important that you continue to train your dog with your verbal or physical prompts until it’s mastered; otherwise, they’re at risk for forgetting the behavior entirely. As with any training, the more you do it, it’s more likely that they will show you the right behavior.
5. Moving from Room to Room
Remember, you won’t want your dog to only listen to your commands while you’re in a particular room at home and so while training, make sure you move from one location to another. This gives your dog the ability to engage in the behavior in various places rather than focusing on one.
You might find that beginning the training in your house is great but you can also try training them at a park, at a friend’s house, or even while you’re out on a walk. The more comfortable they are with learning how to smile in any location, the easier it will be for them to obey your command.
6. Eliminating the Use of Treats
Now that you have the right behavior established, you can begin to command your pet without rewarding them with a treat. I found that it was easy to have Marlie listen to me even when I didn’t have a cookie in my hand. Instead, I chose to give her a pat on the head and a “Good girl” every time she obeyed.
This is important simply because it’s unrealistic to continually feed your pet a treat every time you want your dog to do something. Treats can still be rewards every now and then, but your dog should not expect them.
With the help of the tips presented above, training my dog how to smile was easier than I could have imagined. Personally, I preferred the toothbrush method, as she typically doesn’t smile on her own, unlike other breeds. With the right amount of motivation, you can teach your dog to do relatively anything your hearts desire!