I love teaching tricks to dogs for so many reasons. It’s a fun way to interact with them, it gives them mental exercise, it can help teach a dog a skill that may be practical, and it’s low pressure training because it’s “just for fun.”
One of the secrets to teaching a dog a trick is working with what they naturally do. If the dog has a tendency to perform a particular behavior, then it will be easier to turn that into a cute trick that is performed on cue than trying to get a dog to do something that is foreign.
For example, a dog who tends to use his paws a lot naturally is a great candidate for high-five, wave, or shake.
Dogs who tend to creep when lying down or even when they are supposed to be in a stay are easy to teach to crawl.
Dogs who sleep on their backs usually don’t mind that position even when they are awake, so they are often quick to learn to rollover or to go belly up.
Spinning on cue is easiest to teach to dogs who naturally go in circles when they are excited. (However, I don’t like to teach this to dogs who spin and spin when they get revved up because I’m worried it will develop into a habit that they will have trouble stopping.)
Part of training is teaching a dog to perform a certain behavior and another part is teaching them to do it on cue. If your dog already exhibits the behavior, then all you have to do is put that behavior on cue. And that’s another reason I like teaching dogs to do tricks—it’s often half done before I even start!