Training her dog to smile on cue is a cute and fun party trick because that the intermediate to advanced trainer. Friend may have seen some viral image of dogs reflecting off their pearly whites for the camera, so let’s talk about how to obtain in on the fun!

Remember, a smiling dog isn’t always a happy dog!

This trick calls for a many comfort with dog human body language. Uneven humans, dogs do no smile when they’re happy, which is why that an awkward cheat for your pup to learn.

Generally, as soon as a dog reflects her teeth she’s doing among two things:

She’s showing you a “submissive grin” she’s snarling

Dogs will certainly submissively grin once they’re nervous and also trying to deescalate a stressful situation. It’s type of prefer the dog version of placing your hand up. A snarl additionally will present off her dog’s teeth, yet this isn’t a behavior you desire to train your dog to carry out as a party trick! Instead, us recommend cuing your dog come smile with a whisker tickle. Fine talk much more about that later.

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Dog body Language Mini-Lesson: different Smiles With different Meanings

Before you continue with this trick, let’s talk body language. Can you view the difference in between the three photos below? One is a submissive grin, one is a snarl, and one is a cued smile. Stop talk about each one in turn.


In the very first photo indigenous the left, the dog is scared and displaying a submissive grin. she’s sitting, i m sorry is a “calming signal” already. Think of calming signals favor de-escalation strategies dogs use. She ears room pinned back and she’s not leaning towards the photographer. No all dog will use a submissive grin – some like other means of de-escalating situations.


In contrast, the center dog is snarling as a stranger enters his home. His ears space not pinned ago (often a roar dog that method business will have actually ears forward) and he’s staring tough at the photographer. The dog is tense through body weight forward and also a medium-high tail, more signals the this dog is no playing around.


You do not want to train her dog to perform either of these this as a cute party trick. Her dog is uncomfortable, and as she guardian, that your task to make her feeling safe. If naught else, it will make that very complicated to tell once your dog is showing off a behavior, and when your dog is genuinely uncomfortable. You might even by chance teach friends or family that a snarl is something to laugh at!

The 3rd dog is displaying a cued smile. Yes, he looks a small funny. But that’s because his owner was mindful to train the smile by tickling his whiskers to obtain him come lift his lip. His body is relaxed with neutral ears. It is the technique we’ll walk over today. If you lucky and diligent, you’ll be able to train her dog to perform a bilateral smile rather of the half-smile displayed below!


You don’t want to it is in continually putting your dog in a instance where she’s snarling or grinning submissively. Instead, shot to uncover another means to obtain your dog to show off her teeth without putting her in a stressful situation.

My childhood Labrador would lift she lip as soon as we tickled her whiskers. Try to figure out a means to gain your dog to show her teeth that’s no stressful because that her. Prior to you effort this trick, please be certain you understand dog body language!

We’ve obtained a great guide here all around dog calm signals and how to acknowledge them – check it out if you must brush up on your canine communication!

If you’re making your dog uncomfortable when attempting this trick, you may gain bitten. Safety an initial – and this method ensuring her dog is comfortable! This handy small article talks much more about submissive grins and also snarls. Examine it out prior to proceeding. If you desire to get much more into dog human body language, I extremely recommend this book, a photo portrayed handbook of dog behavior.

Basic maintain Tidbits: 4 Key points to Remember

Leave that on a great Note. Shot to end training sessions ~ above a “high note.” It’s essential that her dog enjoys trick training, therefore don’t finish the session as soon as everyone’s frustrated! If you’ve moved too far and also your dog is struggling, try to lower your expectations a bit and also give she some straightforward wins. Or, girlfriend can constantly just ask she to sit, down, or shake – something easy, so the she have the right to succeed before you speak to it quits!Make maintain Fun! This is really dominion number one of trick training. If you and also your dog space frustrated, then you’re not succeeding. Be sure to keep your maintain fun and positive. Don’t usage punishment, force, or fear in cheat training. You desire your dog to desire to train, and if girlfriend scream, shower pennies, or jerk her collar when she it s okay it wrong, she won’t want to train again tomorrow! Punishing failure will only make her much less excited to learn. If friend start gaining frustrated, you can constantly end her session early and also go perform something girlfriend both enjoy.Really rest it Down. If her dog is having a hard time, figure out ways to make the behavior smaller or easier. You have the right to use these mini-steps to provide your dog an ext of those “wins” pointed out above. If you have the right to break the trick down right into smaller steps, carry out it. I create down every tiny muscle movement and step that has to occur for mine dog to do a task, beginning with eye contact. Yes, go the small! Every little step is likewise a win for your training!

Along this lines, think of habits in raising difficulty. Don’t forget that environments make points harder. If you want your dog to have the ability to smile because that a stranger at a home party, you’ll need to work as much as it!

When friend were very first learning come multiply, you most likely wouldn’t be able to recite her multiplication tables if a stranger asked you in a crowded shopping mall. Don’t intend your dog to carry out the very same at first.

How come Teach her Dog come Smile

If you feeling confident that you’ll be able to avoid forcing her dog to be uncomfortable, stop talk around the nitty-gritty procedures of training her dog come smile. If you’re quiet not sure if you’ll have the ability to tell the difference in between a submissive grin, smile, and also something else, spend an ext time analysis on dog human body language. Ns can’t say it enough: we execute not want to make her dog uncomfortable. So execute not reduced corners and use a snarl or submissive grin together a “smile.”

Keep in mind the each step below is important. Each of these steps is also crucial to any great dog cultivate – for this reason take the time to master them! using these very same skills, you’ll have the ability to teach her dog all sorts of tricks.

Before friend begin, gather up a clicker and also a large bag that tiny, stinky, tasty treats. You have the right to see our write-up on the finest training treats because that plenty of treat ideas!

Step 1: Charging The Clicker

Right now your dog has actually no proviso what a “click” indigenous the clicker means. Our very first step is to teach him! You need to show him that the “click” indigenous a clicker predicts a treat. In various other words, that a tiny promise. You’re informing your dog “Yes, good dog. Currently you get a cookie.” But very first we’ve acquired to teach her dog that!

Trainers speak to this “charging” the clicker since it’s like charging a laptop – you can’t use it until it’s charged! utilizing the clicker is a an extremely easy, 3-step process.

Click the clicker.Grab a law from her bag.Give the dog a treat.

Start in a quiet place, and don’t ask her dog to do anything. Simply repeat these three measures over, and also over, and over again. Later, we’ll add on step 0 – your dog needs to do something girlfriend like! however for now, we’re just strengthening the click-treat association. Shortly enough, the click will be favor Pavlov’s bell for your dog! For an ext info, check out our article on clicker training.

You’ll understand this is working as soon as your dog’s rigid goes right to your confront or her treat bag once you click. That means he to know the click method a act is coming, and also he’s anticipating the treat!

When her dog knows that the clicker means, “Good dog, currently you acquire a treat,” you’re ready to go!his You have the right to use a clicker come train your dog to execute just about anything, so feel complimentary to experiment! just remember that the “click” is a promise to reward the dog because that her hard work. Nothing forget to give her the paycheck (treats)!

Step 2: Cueing A Behavior

Most of the time, i train dogs by “capturing” the behavior. You have the right to read a better description the this in our training write-up on just how to train your dog come say i love you, yet we’ll walk over it really briefly here. This will help illustrate why capturing a habits likely won’t work for this trick!

Capturing a behavior basically method you’ll click and treat as soon as the dog go the habits on his own. because that example, i trained mine parrot to yawning on cue by clicking whenever that yawned. Quickly enough, he identified that he had to yawning to get a sunflower seed!

This functions well for behaviors that pets may do on their own, like sitting, lying down, chasing your tail, or walking to their bed. However, dogs don’t normally smile. This renders things harder. Instead, we need to do something that provides our dog more likely to bare her this at united state without scaring, intimidating, or aggravating her. It’s wade a really fine heat indeed!

We trained my Labrador come “smile” using a whisker tickle, as with the dog in the 3rd photo above. Once we scratched she gently in the whiskers approximately her muzzle, she’d lift her lips. We would tickle her whiskers, climate click and also treat when she lifted she lips. Eventually, she obtained it and would just lift her lips without the tickle.

Technically, this is not “capturing” a behavior because we supplied a physics stimuli to force your dog into a smile, quite than encouraging a natural behavior. However, the mechanics of the clicker stay the same. Once you check out your dog lift she lips, click and treat. Eventually, she’ll start lifting she lips together a method to knife treats.

Be patient through this step. relying on your “click” timing and your dog’s savviness, this step can take 5 minutes or 5 weeks. It’s necessary to be precise with what you click for. If you room off through a 2nd and her dog sneezed at the time, you might confuse her dog! She won’t know if she’s claimed to lift her lips, smile, break eye contact, or what!

Step 3: Fading the end the physics Cue and adding a verbal Cue

Right now, you may still be tickling her dog’s whiskers because that lip-lifts. It is great! Now, let’s start adding in a verbal cue and also fading the end the physical one. In various other words, we’re walk to stop manually tickling your dog and also we’ll rather start offering a command her dog needs to discover to respond to!

Start by picking out a cue. It could be “say cheese,” “smile,” or any kind of other verbal cue you want to usage for this trick. Now that her dog reliably smiles for whisker tickles, you can include in the cue just before the tickles. So now the sequence will look favor this:

Say “Say cheese!”Tickle her dog’s whiskersYour dog smiles, so friend click.Grab a treat from your bagGive her dog a treat.

The new goal is to remove the second step native the process. We want your dog to have the ability to make the psychological leap from the linguistic cue to the action! Fading out the 2nd step might take some time, but be patient! Start by just associating the verbal cue (say cheese!) together a predictor for the whisker tickle and stop whisker-tickling there is no the linguistic cue.

Now, start making the whisker tickle much less prominent.

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If prior to you had actually to scratch your dog for 2-3 seconds before a smile, start to just scratch because that 1-2 seconds. If her dog doesn’t lip-lift, no big deal. Try again in 30 seconds. Your dog will now only gain paid because that lip-lifting if she walk it with a shorter physical cue.

If her dog will lip-lift after just a 2nd of tickles, now only offer treats if she lip-lifts as soon as you touch she without tickling. Then move backwards from there – go from a touch come a nearly-touch. Walk from the to prolonging your finger. Walk from expanding your finger come no physics cue, if you’d like. However remember that the verbal cue continues to be the same!

If this is confusing, simply remember that steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 stay exactly the same. Every you’re law is trying to fade out step 2 by making it less and also less prominent. If you fine with needing a physical cue because that this trick, you can entirely skip this step! it is what we did v my lab. She smiled on cue, however we retained the cue together a whisker tickle!

Remember that treats are payment. try to just pay your dog for her finest work as you do it harder, when making certain she doesn’t obtain frustrated. As soon as you’re happy with your results, though, just work ~ above practicing the habits in more an overwhelming situations, favor with guests over or at the park!

What If mine Dog just Bares her Teeth as soon as She’s Growling?

A whisker tickle just won’t work-related for part dogs. Due to the fact that you don’t desire to train your dog come snarl or watch scared because that the camera, girlfriend can try to train her dog to play bow or wag her tail top top cue. Really, anything an imaginative will do waves among your friends. I think a cued beat bow is also cuter than a cued smile, since it’s unambiguous dog human body language!

Does your dog like showing off she pearly whites? Share your stories, tips, and also tricks in the comments!