How to Train Your Older Dog to Wag His Tail

Easy
2-5 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Imagine being in a group of friends and telling your older dog "Wag if you like girl dogs" or "Wag if you're obsessed with squirrels". Having a dog that knows how to wag on cue can be very funny. You can come up with a lot of jokes that involve wagging to entertain friends. You can also substitute the cue word "Wag" for another hilarious word or phrase by using the same training methods. Perhaps you want your dog to wag every time you say "Cat", you can simply replace the word "Wag" in your training practices with the word "Cat".

Because your dog is older it can be hard to find new tricks that are not too physically demanding. Many older dogs still enjoy learning new things and still require mental stimulation to be happy. Training can also be a great way to bond with your older dog. Because 'wag' is not a physically demanding trick, it can be the perfect trick to teach him. Plus it can be lots of fun.

Defining Tasks

This command is relatively easy to teach. The most important thing to remember is to not take yourself too seriously. To train this command, you will need to make your dog feel happy and excited so that he will wag his tail. Do not be afraid to act silly. This is the time to break out the high pitched voice, to dance a bit, to smile and laugh at yourself. Make things fun and enjoy yourself. If you are feeling frustrated because your dog will not 'wag', definitely take a break. You will get no closer to getting him to wag his tail if you are not feeling happy yourself. Wait to try again when you are feeling happier and perhaps even a bit goofy.

Expect this command to take between two and six weeks to train. Some dogs will naturally catch on more quickly and learn this rather soon, but others may struggle with the transition from wagging because you made them happy to wagging in response to the command. Be patient with your dog and if he is struggling, keep practicing the trick with your funny voice or toy or treat for longer. You will need to practice with the fun things included for long enough for your dog to learn to love the word "wag" so that he will wag when he hears it.

This command may never work if you give it to your dog while you are in a bad mood. Even when your dog understands that he is supposed to wag when told, if he feels sad or scared he will not be likely to do it. It's like someone angry telling you to laugh or smile. That would probably be the last thing that you would feel like doing. If someone were to tell you "Smile! Smile!" in their silliest voice though, you would probably easily smile.

Getting Started

To get started you will need small tasty treat if you are using either the 'Treat Luring' or ' 'Happy Voice' method. If you are using the 'Toy' method, you will need one or more of your dog's favorite toys. If you are using the 'Happy Voice' method, you will need your most excited, silly, and happy voice. You will need some level of a happy voice for all of the methods, though. The more excited, happier, and goofier the better. Prepare to get into the training spirit at least as much as your dog. Perhaps you will even have more fun than he does. Finally, you will need patience and a great attitude to help your older dog learn.

The Treat Luring Method

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Step
1
Hide treats
To begin, place several treats in your hand and hide your hand inside of your pocket or behind your back.
Step
2
Show the treats
While standing in front of your dog, suddenly pull out your hand and open it to show your dog the treats. While you are pulling out your hand tell your dog "Wag!" in an excited voice and allow him to eat the treats.
Step
3
Surprise your dog
Repeat this process until your dog no longer wags his tail when you pull out your hand during that session. When he stops wagging his tail, end the session. Randomly begin new sessions by surprising your dog with the hand full of treats. Do this randomly throughout the day to get him excited enough to wag his tail again and again.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the surprise sessions until you can tell your dog "wag" and he will always wag his tail, even when not surprised.
Step
5
Practice
Once your dog will 'wag' simply when told to, your dog has mastered wagging! Continue to practice this trick to perfect it, and for added fun you can also teach this trick as part of a joke. Simply repeat the entire training process but replace the 'wag' command with a funny word or question that you would like for your dog to wag in response to.
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The Happy Voice Method

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Step
1
Tell him to wag
To begin, tell your dog "wag" in a very happy, excited, and high pitched voice. Do this until your dog wags his tail.
Step
2
Reward
As soon as your dog wags his tail, praise him and offer him a treat. It is very important that you act very happy and excited when you tell him "wag". The tone of your voice is what will cause him to wag his tail at first.
Step
3
Repeat
Repeat this process for several days, until your dog will wag his tail every time you say wag, even in a normal voice.
Step
4
Change tone
When your dog is consistently wagging his tail whenever you tell him to wag, then begin to tell him to wag in a normal, but still pleasant, voice. If he will not wag his tail when you tell him in a normal voice, go back to telling him in a happy voice. Randomly change which voice tone you use each time, until he will consistently do it no matter what voice you use.
Step
5
Added fun
For added fun you can also choose a word or phrase other than the word "wag" to train him to wag his tail. Simply use the same method that you used to teach 'wag' but replace the command word with your own word or phrase. Your phrase can be a funny question or word that will cue him to wag his tail, for instance. This can make the trick especially fun to show off to friends.
Recommend training method?

The Toy Method

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Step
1
Find a toy
To begin, find your dog's favorite toy. Some options could include: a tennis ball, a squeaker toy, a food stuffed chew toy, or a stuffed animal.
Step
2
Show the toy
Hide the toy behind your back and stand in font of your dog. While facing your dog, suddenly show your dog the toy and move the toy around excitedly while saying "wag" in an excited voice.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as your dog wags his tail in response to the toy, hand or toss the toy to your dog while praising him.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat this process with your dog until he no longer wags during that session. When he no longer wags, end that session. Randomly begin new sessions throughout the day by surprising your older dog with a toy. You can also change which toy you use to keep him excited and wagging.
Step
5
Phase out the lure
When your dog will wag every time you tell him to 'wag' and show him a toy, begin to phase out the toy as a lure. To phase out the toy, with the toy hidden behind your back, tell your dog "wag" and wait ten seconds before showing him the toy. Practice this until he wags his tail before seeing the toy. If he wags before you have shown him the toy then give him the toy and praise him. If he will not wag then go back to practicing this without the pause between the word and toy for longer. After a couple of days of practicing it without the pause, then try adding the pause back in again.
Step
6
Have fun with it!
When your dog will consistently wag his tail when told to 'wag' then you have successfully taught the command! Continue to practice and to make this command fun. You can also have even more fun with this trick by training him to wag in response to a funny word or question. To do this, repeat the entire process that you completed while training 'wag', but this time replace the command word "wag" with a funny question or word that you would like for your dog to wag in response to.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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