Every dog owner would love to have a dog that seems to be smiling every time. You might be wondering if it is even possible to teach a dog to smile?
Well, the answer is yes! Smiling is a technique that you can teach your dog just like any other behavior.
You need to have the patience and skill required to teach your dog how to smile.
Remember that dogs are really intelligent animals, there are so many tricks that you can teach your dog if you want him to stand out from the crowd, smiling is one of them.
All that is required is adequate training and some positive reinforcement and your dog will learn how to smile on cue.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Preparation and good planning is the key to successfully teaching your dog how to smile.
You need to know that smiling for a dog does not come naturally like it does for us humans.
However, there is really nothing that is impossible when it comes to training a dog to do certain dog tricks, including smiling.
Smiling for a dog simply means to lifting his lip and showing his teeth.
In order to train and teach your dog how to smile, you can prepare adequately by investing in a clicker which you shall use to click anytime he smiles.
You will also need a few of his favorite treats, just to reward your furry friend once he shows you his teeth with a nice smile.
When preparing your dog for training, you can touch his lips on regular basis so that he gets used to it and will barely resist when you actually want to train him.
2. Be the Alpha
Dogs come from the wolf family and they always obey the commands of their pack leader.
Just like in any other training session, before you can teach your dog how to smile, you need to establish yourself as his alpha.
Being an alpha and a dog leader is more about your actions than anything else. You need to do things the way a leader does them, for instance, always lead your dog by the leash and not the other way round.
You will find some dog owners walking behind as their dog is in front, that is certainly not how an alpha behaves.
Once you establish your authority as the leader, your furry friend will most likely obey when you tell him to say cheese to the camera.
3. Teach him how to lift the lips
As I highlighted before, smiling does not come naturally to dogs. You need to put in some effort and know how to get your dog to smile.
You can do this by teaching your dog how to lift his lips. Touch your dog’s lips and slowly progress to lifting one side of his lips then to both the sides of his lips.
Make sure to use a clicker once your dog can do this on his own. It is a huge milestone in teaching your dog how to smile. You can also stroke his pleasure points and get to associate the stroking with smiling.
Only make sure not to overdo the stroking so that your little puppy doesn’t get carried away and forgets to smile.
4. Teach him the “smile” command
Teach your dog to understand the smile command just the same way you would any other basic commands.
As you teach your dog to smile by showing him how to lift his lips, you can then proceed and also teach him the word. This is meant to help your dog associate the word with the action.
Anytime he will hear you say the word smile, he will lift his lips and show his teeth.
Dogs are very fast learners and will quickly grasp new tricks that you teach them. You can either teach him to smile when you say “cheese!” or “smile!” but make sure not to use the two together.
Using the two words together or interchangeably will confuse your dog. Only use one term and stick to it all through.
5. Use positive reinforcement
Dogs just like kids like to be praised and given treats when they do something right. Always use positive reinforcement when you want to teach your dog how to smile.
You can get your dog’s favorite treat and use it to reward your dog anytime he smiles at you. When you get your dog to show his teeth, good words of praise like “Good boy” or “Good job!” will go a great way to motivate him.
Take precaution not to show your dog the treat before he actually gets to smile because he will get distracted.
Only give him the treat when he lifts his lips an shows you his teeth. Once he has learnt to lift his lips, you can delay his treat for a few seconds until he shows you his teeth.
According to experts, positive reinforcement works more effectively than scolding or shouting at your dog. Dogs get to pick up our facial expressions very fast.
You can always show him your smile as well anytime you require him to show your guests this new trick before rewarding him.
6. Avoid bribing your dog
There is a huge difference between rewarding and bribing your dog. You need to avoid bribing your dog just to get him to show you his teeth.
As much as I would recommend that you use positive reinforcement, too much rewarding will begin to make it seem as though you are bribing your dog to do your bidding.
There will have to be times when you will have to delay rewarding your dog with the yummy treats just to make sure that he understands that you are not bribing him to smile for you guests.
Avoid bribing your furry friend with excessive treats because he will get used to obeying your command only when there is a treat in the offing.
The best thing to do is to hide the treat until he smiles and only show him after he shows you his teeth when smiling. If he shows you his teeth in an aggressive manner, do not reward such behavior.
7. Be firm and patient
Dogs are very smart animals and can learn new tricks and commands very fast. However, you need to be aware of the fact that dogs also have different levels of intellectual capacity just like humans.
There are dogs that learn really fast and others might take some time before grasping the trick fully. Exercise some patience with your dog when you want to teach him how to smile.
After all, you are not joining some smiling competition. Let your dog learn at his own pace. Make the training sessions fun and enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Take reasonable breaks from training and take him for a potty break or a run in the yard. At the end of the day it is just a trick you are trying to teach him and not like he will sit for an exam.
8. Pay attention to your dog’s needs
A good dog owner who is also experienced in training dogs will know that it is not always that a dog will be in the mood for training.
You ought to pay attention to your dog’s needs, whether emotional or physical needs. Make sure that your dog is well fed and has helped himself at his potty before you begin training.
Always pick the right time to teach your dog how to smile. You will not have good results when your dog is tired for instance or is hungry and all moody.
If your dog is also hyper, make sure to let him play and drain most of the energy he has.
All you need to do is learn and be very keen on the attitude of your dog. This will greatly help you in picking the right time to train and teach him how to smile.
9. Explore other ways to get your dog to show you his teeth
There might be other instances where your dog will willingly show you his teeth.
For example, if you do practice good dental hygiene and brush his teeth regularly, then your dog is likely to show you his teeth at the sight of his toothbrush. Take this as an opportunity to reinforce this behavior in your puppy.
Use treats to reward and motivate your dog to smile by showing you his teeth.
Perhaps your dog is most likely to show you his teeth once he sees his bowl of favorite dog food. This is undoubtedly one of the surest ways of getting any dog to smile at his owner.
Be creative and get to know what makes your dog tick. That way you will easily be able to teach him how to smile.
10. Timing is everything
If you are wondering how to teach your dog to smile, then you need to be very good at timing.
It is much easier to teach your dog how to smile when he is still a puppy or rather as soon as you bring him home.
When you want to successfully teach your dog how to smile, you have to be very strategic when it comes to timing. Immediately give your dog a click and a treat when he shows you his teeth.
Reward him instantly when he obeys your command, this will make him understand and connect the action of smiling to the reward he gets.
In a nutshell, it is very possible to teach your dog how to smile. There is simply no trick that is impossible for any dog to learn.
Preparation is key if you want to achieve success in teaching your dog how to smile.
Invest in a clicker or have a cue that you can use to reinforce the behavior and also remember to use positive reinforcement.
Reward your puppy with his favorite treat once he shows progress by lifting his lips and showing you his teeth.
Teach your dog the basic commands and let him know what he ought to do once he hears you say “smile!” or “cheese”.
Practice patience and be consistent in your training sessions. That way your dog will know how to smile for the camera in no time!
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