On TikTok I’ve seen a lot of Golden Retriever owners teaching their dogs to smile on command. The dogs do quite a snarly looking smile, and this isn’t something that Phoebe and Frank would naturally do, so I’ve adapted the trick and it looks super goofy.
Frank has always been used to me checking out his teeth – Phoebe is less of a fan of you shoving fingers into her mouth. To teach Frank this trick, I used some high value treats, and continued to practice the command in short bursts over the space of a week. Phoebe is a little slower on picking up the trick, but is learning to show off her meggies!
Teaching your dog new tricks can strengthen your bond, and offer much-needed mental stimulation for your dog. Plus, they’re pretty cool to show off to their mates down at the dog park. Just be sure to keep practice sessions short and sweet, and make it worth your dogs’ while with their all-time favourite treats.
This is how I taught Frank to ‘smile’.
Step 1: I would hold my finger in front of Frank’s mouth and reward when he touched it with his face by himself.
Step 2: What I didn’t want was for Frank to lick me, as this wouldn’t show off his pearly whites. I would wait until he’s still and calm, and gently push up his top lip to expose his front teeth for a second, rewarding and offering praise.
Step 3: When Frank got used to this, I added the ‘smile’ cue, so he would associate the word with the trick, and reward positive experiences.
Step 4: Now all I needed to do was get him comfortable holding the pose. As Frank is quite chilled, he was more than happy to continue smiling for around 15 seconds, and got lots of cuddles for providing top quality entertainment.
Good luck teaching your pooch to ‘smile’ and be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram!