Fewer things are cuter than a dog's big smile. When your pooch pulls her lips back, lolls out her tongue and grins, it can be hard to resist her wily charms. By training your dog to smile on command, you can harness that cuteness and enjoy it whenever you'd like.
Encourage the Behavior
When trying to teach your dog to smile on command, encourage the behavior whenever you see it. For some breeds, such as terriers and bully breeds, this is quite easy because they smile all the time. For others, you might have to work to get them to smile. Try gently rubbing his belly, playing ball or anything that gets your dog happy and relaxed.
Reward the Behavior
Once you can predict when your dog will smile, begin to reward it. Hand your dog a treat and praise her enthusiastically whenever you see her smiling. Very quickly, you'll begin to notice your dog smiling more and more.
Name the Behavior
Just before your dog smiles, give the command you'll use to ask your dog to grin at you. "Smile," "show your teeth," or "say cheese!" tend to work really well. Reward your pup for flashing her pearly whites and praise her at every opportunity. Continue practicing until your dog smiles every time she's asked to.
Distraction-Proof the Behavior
Start practicing the behavior around distractions and in new places. Give your dog the cue and reward her when she grins. If your dog ignores you, there's too much going on for her to concentrate on what you're asking. Lower the level of distraction until she's comfortable and try again.
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.