We love working with props in trick dog training world.
Props add spice and variety, they allow us introduce a vast variety of different actions and of course they are fun!
Sometimes we rely on our props so much that we forget that there are literally hundreds of tricks your can do with your dog without use of any props.
Just you and your dog!
The benefits of teaching your dog some tricks without props are numerous:
You can do those tricks anywhere - all you need is you and your dog
It will allow you to create some amazing memories of trick playing with your dog in some wonderful places- on a beach, in the woods and meadows, among flowers and yellow leaves etc.
Direct interaction strengthens your bond and further builds your confidence in each other and trust
Dog learns to read your body language an subtle cue better and develops even better focus on you
You can get your dog's attention with tricks in a number of challenging situations where you need full focus of your dog
This is why Task 5 of the International Trick Dog Competition is all about tricks with humans. It could be just the two of you. If you would like an extra stretch and even further challenge you can attempt tricks involving some other familiar humans (this is purely optional though and will depend on your dog and circumstances).
Here are just some of the ideas for tricks you can try with your dog without any use of props:
Mirror me tricks
Sit, down, stand (while you are performing identical actions)
Cross paws with you crossing your legs
High raise paws/feet marching
Jump up together
Wave to each other
Cover eyes together
Roll over together
All relaxed style heelwork
Crawl together (alongside each other, or dog in front or behind you)
Nod or shake head together
Look at each other and away
Look at each other switching direction
Walk forward or backwards facing each other
Walk sideways facing each other or away from each other
Turn towards and away from each other
Joint spins and twirls etc
Walk on hind legs in front on you, next to you, behind you, facing you, facing away from you
Back up together or away from each other
For some extra challenge you can even try opposite mirror tricks where the dog performs tricks that are opposite to what you are doing. For example, dog jumps up while you sit down, dog lies down when you stand up, waves with the hands/paws across, crossing paws in the direction opposite to what you are doing etc. Those tricks are much more difficult than mirror tricks and really show your dog's understanding of the cue.
This is includes vast selection of tricks where there is some contact between the two of you:
All competitive heelwork
Give paws to your hands, paws to opposite hands
Pat a cake
Paws to your feet, paws to your heels, paws to your hands (don't forget the dog has 4 paws, so not just front paws but also hind paws!)
High fives, high 10
Kongo walk with dog paws on your back
Footsy steps where dog places its paws on your feet. This can be done facing backwards or forwards
Dog standing across your feet
Dog leaning you
Rebounds (back, front, hands, feet)
Pray with was on your arm or knee
Nose touch hand
Nose into the ring of fingers
Chin on your knees
Jump on your knees
Jump on your back
CPR- chest compressions and rescue breathing
Paws on your arm- walking together
Walking in centre position with dog facing forwards or backwards
This is another huge group of tricks where the two of you perform slightly different action to make the trick (there is some overlap of course with the previous groups too):
Jump through your arm hoops
Jump over your legs (with you sitting , on the floor or standing)
Leg weave as you step forward, sideways, backwards)
Backwards leg weave with dog moving backwards
Whisper into my ear
Hugs and cuddles (in their many variations)
Roll you on the floor
Raised legs footstall
Jumping into your arms
Tricks while balancing on your back
Circling you, circling your legs while you can be static or moving
Reversing around you
Reversing to between your legs
Jumping over you
Dog rolls over while you step over
Jump over as you roll over
Huge variety of potential joint yoga moves for example where dog holds paws on your knees while you are doing crunch ups etc.
Any of the above tricks can be of course performed when you are next to each other or for an extra challenge at a distance or from a distance.
For more trick ideas with and without props see the main part of the Dog Talent Association website where we have got over 530 tricks for you to choose from for your dog:
Remember, that you do not need any props or tools to enjoy each other's company with your dog.
Just the two of you is all that you need!