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How to Teach a Dog to Smile – 5 Expert Tips

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

dog smiling

Dogs can learn a great many tricks, and smiling is just one of them. However, getting your dog to follow commands is not always easy, and many people are not well-skilled at training their pets. We have assembled a short guide to help you teach your dog how to smile in just a few steps with a good chance of succeeding.

We’ll discuss the steps as well as go over some tips and tricks you can use to improve your chance at success. Here’s how to teach a dog to smile!

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The 5 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Smile

Smiling is one of the more unusual tricks you can teach your dog, and it will definitely impress anyone who sees your dog’s cute smile since many people don’t realize it’s possible. It will take plenty of patience, and it will be easier with a dog that likes to learn, but you can teach almost any dog.

close up of a smiling dog
Image Credit: Marliese Streefland, Unsplash

1. Be Attentive

Happy dogs already show their teeth on occasion, so all you need to do is give them a little push. Watching your dog attentively will give you clues about what makes them show their teeth with excitement. It could be that you have their favorite treat in hand, or they know it’s about to go for a walk or a ride in the car. Some dogs will show their teeth when they know they are about to eat sour food like a lemon. Keep accurate notes so you can track these events and use them in your training.

It’s important to note that we are not talking about the teeth showing that often accompanies growling and other aggressive behavior. Training your dog to be aggressive can be dangerous.

2. Reward System

Once you know what makes your dog show its teeth, you can use it to train your dog to smile by setting up a simple system. For instance, if your dog shows its teeth when you grab the key because it thinks it’s going for a ride, you can grab the keys, say “smile,” and give your dog a treat when it shows you its teeth. After a few times, depending on how clever it is, your dog will catch on and begin to smile on command. Don’t forget to shower your pet with praise while giving it a treat, so it knows it did something right.

cocker spaniel dog getting treat
Image Credit: Natalia Bostan, Shutterstock

3. Repetition

The key part of training your pet to smile is repetition. The more times you say “smile,” and give your dog a treat when it shows its teeth, the better chance your pet will catch on and start to follow your commands. You must never act like you are disappointed if your dog doesn’t respond correctly to the command. If your pet feels like it is disappointing you, it will be less interested in training, and you might never get your dog to follow your command. It may also prevent you from teaching your dog other tricks.

4. Consistency

One of the most important parts of a successful training system is consistency. We recommend holding your sessions at the same time each day for maximum effect. Your dog will begin to form a routine and expect you to participate. Missing days of training at different times could confuse your pet, increasing the amount of time it takes for your dog to learn. Training sessions should be no longer than 10 or 15 minutes, and you should only try the same command a few times.

Don’t try to teach too many tricks at once. 5–15 tries should be enough for one day, or you risk confusing the dog or causing anxiety.

Doxie Pin smiling
Image Credit: Sarit Richerson, Shutterstock

5. Other Tips

  • Make sure there are no distractions in the area where you are training.
  • Make sure your dog is comfortable and happy.
  • If you don’t see your dog showing its teeth when it’s happy, you can try to gently use your fingers to put a smile on their face while repeating the command “smile.”
  • You can also demonstrate the smiling action yourself while repeating the “smile“ command.
  • If your dog is squinting or has a closed mouth, it could be showing signs of stress, so pack it up and try again tomorrow.
  • You can use the smiling command as a way to brush your pet’s teeth. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth can also make it easier to teach this command.
  • Don’t hold the treats in your hand while training, so your dog learns to follow orders at all times.
  • Change your body position when you are training, so your dog doesn’t think it only has to follow commands when you are in a specific stance.
  • Once your dog begins learning, move the training sessions to other locations, so the dog doesn’t think it only needs to follow orders in a specific location.
  • Switch up the rewards, so your dog doesn’t only follow orders for treats. Alternative rewards will also help avoid weight gain. Extra time with their favorite toy, car rides, and walks are just a few examples of rewards your dog will like as much as a treat.

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While teaching your dog to smile is one of the less common tricks, it can be especially useful for brushing your dog’s teeth. Dental disease is common for dogs, and as many as 80% of dogs over the age of three are afflicted. Smiling also makes many dog breeds look extremely attractive, and it’s sure to bring applause from anyone who sees it. Patience and consistency are your best tools to train almost any dog to smile or perform any other trick.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and found it helpful for getting your dog to follow your commands. If we have helped you teach your dog a new trick, please share this guide to teach a dog to smile on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Crystal Alba, Shutterstock

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