Challenge Your Dog’s Mind with Amazing Dog Tricks and Games

best tricks to teach your dog for mental exercise brain games teaching dogs tricks with kilo the black pug on a rocking horse

My Rescue Pug Kilo has a pattern. He gets up quite late (he sleeps happily in his crate). We go for a quick walk and potty break but then he wants to rush back for breakfast. After breakfast, he goes crazy for 10+ minutes chasing toys, running, jumping and doing tricks with me, then he relaxes for 2 hours. This cycle repeats approximately every 2 or 3 hours. He badgers me to play, leaves unwanted surprises and becomes very destructive if I do not respect his needs, so it’s much better to be prepared. Find out some of the best tricks to teach your dog for mental exercise as well as physical that I have been trying with Kilo.

To start the day, I have various ways to slow him down to stop him from gobbling his food in seconds including puzzles, raised bowls, adding banana and yoghurt to his kibble so he licks the bowl and spreading the kibble around with water.

Online Training with Sara Carson and Hero the Super Collie

We have been having a great time working with Dog Trainer Sara Carson online over the last couple of weeks, teaching Kilo dog tricks for mental and physical stimulation. Hero is such an inspiration with all his amazing dog tricks. Sara just launched an App for iPhones which we can’t wait to try.

We are also working our way through a great dog training book: 51 Puppy Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Jadie and have even added a few fun activities of our own.

Training A Food Motivated Pug

Kilo still needs to be lured with food rewards except to sit and is not great on basic obedience training or “drop it” or “bring”. He is totally obsessed with food and loves attention and we use only reward based training methods. He usually tries very hard to please, as long as he gets paid and there are no big distractions.


He loves me to play, tug and chase, but he does not like giving up anything unless we are playing with his plastic water bottles then he wants me to throw them. He hates roll over and gets nasty if you touch under his front leg to try to lure or push him as I suspect someone may have tried to intimidate or punish him by rolling him on his back.

He is on the #naughtylist this week for multiple cases of theft (sandwich, cheese, socks, pens).

He has finally mastered tricks that have been a challenge for him such as “lie down” and  “crawl” (although he still pops his butt up for crawl unless I lure him under my leg). He is starting to get the figure 8 weave through my legs and will unwrap a yoga mat, close a cupboard, touch, jump, dance, walk on 2 legs and more.


He will even jump up on his Rocking Horse and ride it briefly (he had a stand off when he first saw it, as he seemed to think it was a dog, but some sniffing and treats, and he was all over it). I have caught him dragging it across the room by the reins a few times.

Kilo-sitting Kilo-sitting

Kilo Learns to “Sit Pretty”

One simple but impressive trick we are still having some trouble with is  “sit pretty”. We work on it daily and his balance and lower body strength seem to get better each week.  Today he actually managed to stay sitting up without any help for a few seconds on the couch.

I’ve seen many dogs do this trick but I have never seen a pug do it. In fact, I haven’t seen many pugs doing tricks at all. His body shape does not make it easy.

We met with Dog Trainer Taylor and her super talented viral video stars Trick Dogs Lottie the Border Collie and Grizzly the Rescue German Shepherd to get some tips.  Both dogs are so well trained and showed off a perfect “Sit Pretty” (in their bow tie and bow from HandMade in the Hammer) while giving each other hugs. Grizzly has a heavier top and long body so I got Taylor to give some tips on how to teach your dog “Sit Pretty”.

I was wondering if anybody has any other tips for this trick? Anymore strengthening or balance exercises that might help that have worked for you and your dog.

I am hoping that in the new year, we can sign up for some obedience training for dogs and other live dog training classes. We have a great group of trainers in Ontario and some cool tips I am using in our Dog Training Tuesday section of the site.

What Are Some Mentally Stimulating Tricks Your Dog Can Do?

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  • Great tricks Kilo, well done. For sit pretty, you want to work his core and back legs. Get one of those balance bones, and put his front paws on it. Then gently budge his behind, moving him from side to side. Good for his back legs and his core.

  • Wow! You’ve got a lot of great tricks. We had the hardest time with sit pretty too and started training it in the corner of the sofa, like you are doing. NOW, Rocco finally has it mastered… it only took two years! ha! I think it’s possible his body just needed to mature. We’ve done lots of strength, balance training on FitPaws discs and the FitBone, so that may have contributed to his strength building. We built up to him holding it slowing… just a second at first and now he can hold it for oh, about 10 seconds. Now, I’m having him practice going from a sit pretty to a stand on his hind legs and back to sit pretty to really strengthen his rear end. I think the FitPaws equipment could really help.

  • Wowzers, Kilo! You have really mastered a bag of tricks! Cool! Love seeing you on the horse! Keep up the good work.

  • Great post! I am interested to improve my trick repertoire… but I have to admit I’m usually not having it if there aren’t treats involved, either… can totally relate! 😉

  • Great article about the importance of mental stimulation for our best friends! I Kilo’s yoga-mat-unrolling and Rocking Horse sound pawsome ~ my girl Missy is always present when I do Yoga at home…I’ll try to teach her the unrolling part 🙂 Thanks for the new challenge idea!

  • Nice job Kilo. Looks like he is having fun.

    I know people always assume that if a dog doesn’t like to be touched that it was due to abuse or mistreatment, but I do not believe that is always the case. Having trained three Chessies, I can tell you that there are things they just plain do not like and it is only because they do not like it. It was tough to teach all three of our dogs down because they do not like to be in that kind of submissive position. Belly rub was another thing that they did not automatically like (now they love it). It just took time, patience and maturity. Storm would not allow you to touch her to nudge her down so the trainer we used suggested a different way where I did not have to touch her to get her in position. Worked like a charm and now she does down and could care less if you touch her.

  • Good job Kilo, you sound like Gman if I leave him along for 30 sec he wrecks something. What adorable horsie photos.

  • vicki 2 years ago

    I thought this was gonna be an article demonstrating different tricks but oh well…i also have a pug im trying to train to do tricks…shes 7 mos old & has done many stunts naturally during play such as jumping & twisting in the air trying to catch her toy that im waving around & also stands & walks on hind legs…she seems to b quite intelligent as well so now my challenge is to get her to do these things on command rather than just when playing…