10 Simple Steps to Teach Your Dog to Smile

10 Simple Steps to Teach Your Dog to Smile

10:11:00 17/11/2017



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You can teach your dogs all sorts of tricks that can make him really stand out. One is how to make your dog smile. Can dogs actually and literally smile? Well, nothing is difficult in this world, and when it comes to dog training, almost everything is achievable. You simply need to know the techniques.  Here are 10 simple steps to teach your dog to smile.

Step #1 Prepare Your Dog

Because dogs are smart, they can be trained to do almost anything including smiling. By the way, when we say smiling, for dogs this simply means lifting his lip and showing his teeth. So, you simply have to believe this can be taught and begin with the training. But you need to prepare your dog for the smiling trick. Do so by touching the sides of his lips on a regular basis. This gives him an idea that touching his mouth becomes part of his daily events and he won’t resist when the actual training happens.

You need to prepare your dog for the smiling trick by touching the sides of his lips on a regular basis

Step #2 Connect Smiling With Stroking

Dogs love to be touched. It makes them feel good when they get a gentle pat or petting. Give him some scratching or stroking while touching the sides of his lips. This way, he gets to associate the touching of his lips with the stroking. A word of caution: don’t overdo the scratching or he’ll pay more attention to it rather than the smiling. Do more of the lifting of his lip/s than petting. This is your first step on how to make your dog smile.

Step #3 Lifting the Lips

Soon, your pet will be getting used to the touches made on his lips. From touching, progress to lifting the one or both sides of the lips of his snout, without forgetting to stroke or scratch him from time to time especially on the pleasure points. Do the lifting several times and move on to the next important step.

When your dog is used to the touches made on his lips, do lifting the one or both sides of the lips 

Step #4 Introduce Smile Command

As you lift your dog’s lips, give a simple command or word that he can easily associate with the trick. This is the fourth critical step on how to make your dog smile. Use “cheese” or “smile” or any other word. The secret is consistency. Don’t mix the two commands or words; stick to one only. If it is “smile,” then use it always. Wait until he learns to hold his lips and shows his teeth. Some owners introduce a treat while holding the lips. I would recommend this only if you think your pet isn’t quite receptive or cooperative.

Step #5 Give Rewards

If you really want to know how to make your dog smile, then you must not forget giving rewards. There are many ways to reward your dog. A verbal praise like “Good” or “Good job!” will help reinforce the smiling trick you want him to master. More scratching or stroking can also be used. In addition, treats that your dog loves are a good reinforcement. Make sure you don’t show the treat before the training or he’ll get distracted. Bring it out only while lifting his lips or when he has complied. A favorite toy bone and other toys such as a ball are great rewards, too, and will definitely make your dog smile.

You should reward your dog while he/she can follow your command

Step #6 Be Patient

Dogs can learn, but just like humans, they also have different levels of intelligence. Some are quick to acquire

a trick while others may take some time. This is why you need to be more patient if you want to succeed on how to make your dog smile. There’s no need to rush since you’re not joining a “Smiling Dog” competition (or are you?). Take the time and enjoy both your dog and the training sessions. You can also have your trainer do this for you if you think you can’t put up with your very active or uncooperative animal.

Step #7 Pick the Right Time

When is the right time to teach your dog how to smile? Not when he’s very tired, angry or about to retire, of course. The right time is when he is quite relaxed and in a good mood. You will know because as the owner, you get to observe and master the behavior and attitude of your pet. If your furry friend is hyper, that’s not the right time. Let him play instead and let him enjoy the activity for a while. Then, try if he’s receptive enough to the next activity or training sessions with you.

It's better for you to train your dog when he is quite relaxed and in a good mood

Step #8 Watch Out for Unplanned “Training Moments”

If you’re still wondering how to make your dog smile other than those already enumerated, well, sometimes, you just need to be vigilant so you make some significant progress. Training your dog to sit, stand, run or pick up a toy and do other skills is relatively easy compared to teaching him how to smile. Remember that smiling is not natural to dogs. So watch out for those occasions when your dog shows his teeth and turn that into a teaching time by rewarding him with a verbal praise or a treat. Then mention the same smile command that you have been trying to use to train him to do the trick. That way, he associates the showing of teeth with the reward and the command. Keep reinforcing as he obeys you. Just another word of caution: make sure you know the difference between a harmless showing of teeth and snarling. The latter is a form of aggression and should never be reinforced.

Smiling is not natural to dogs so watch out for those occasions when your dog shows his teeth and turn that into a teaching time

Step #9 Establish Your Authority

As in any other training sessions, it is extremely important for you the trainer to make it obvious to your pet that you are in charge. Always stand before your dog and don’t sit down. Standing in front of your pet teaches him that you’re in charge and he learns to obey you. Establishing authority is just that – to have someone in charge. This leads me to the last step.

Step #10 Train with a Heart

You have to be kind and understanding of your dog. I know of some pet owners who lose their cool and utter profanities in front of the dog when he misses a command or cue. Your doggie may be tired or stressed if he’s uncooperative. You can tell if he’s stressed because he would squint his eyes, so make sure you give him some break. Another sign of stress is a closed mouth. Perhaps you’ve done so much for the day or your techniques are not really working. Try other strategies if that’s the case. If you ask me how to make your dog smile and do other tricks, positivity is the key. This will ensure you don’t give up and don’t cause him undue stress.