How to Teach Your Dog to Smile on Command

My mother would always try to make my grandma’s dog smile, but I think she was just making the dog annoyed. She didn’t know how to train the dog to properly do this. Many dog owners want to train their dogs to smile on command but may not know how to accomplish this task. Here I will help you by giving you the steps you need to train your dog to smile successfully.

Teach Dog To Smile On Command

Can You Teach a Dog to Smile?

Yes, you can certainly teach your dog to smile on command. However, this will take some time, especially if your dog is completely new to this trick. If you want to know how to get your dog to smile, follow our tips below. Remember to be patient with your dog because they will not be able to master this skill overnight.

Steps to Teach Your Dog to Smile

Here I will take you step by step on how you can teach your dog to smile. Remember that this should be a fun experience and not one that will stress you or your dog out. Your training sessions should be short and to the point. Remember to praise your dog with love or treats during training.

Step 1. Gather Your Supplies

First, get whatever you are going to use to help train your dog. For example, many dog owners like to use clickers when training a specific technique. Another great thing to have is training treats. I understand if your dog likes bones but get a smaller treat that your dog would enjoy for training.

If you give your dog something too big, it will fill up too quickly, so you should pick out small training treats. If you cannot find those, you can actually use Cheerios.

Step 2. Teach Your dog the Clicker Method

Again, most dog owners like to train their dogs on commands with a clicker. If this is your first time, you will need to train your dog on what the clicker means. This may take some time, but once your dog gets this down, you will be able to use the clicker for a variety of different training things.

When you click the clicker, and your dog looks at you with attentive eyes, you will present your dog with a treat. If you do not train with treats, you can praise your dog and say “good boy.” Repeat this process of clicking the clicker getting the dog’s attention and presenting your dog with a reward.

This will teach your dog this method before you add more steps. If your dog does not gaze at you or give you attention you would not give your dog a treat until the command is performed correctly.

How To Teach Your Dog To smile On Command

Step 3. Teaching Your Dog to Tap your hand

This will be the next step, and this can likely take a while for your dog to learn. Do not rush your dog in this training process. If it takes your dog weeks or months to learn this skill, then let it be so.

This skill can be learned by putting your hand in front of your dog and clicking your clicker. You will give your dog praise and a reward when the dog touches its nose to your hand. Repeat this a lot until your dog has mastered this command.

When your dog gets that part down, switch to one finger instead of your hand and have your dog master that. Again, your dog could master this quickly, or it could take serval weeks. When your dog presses its lips or cheek to your finger it will cause your dog’s mouth to open slightly showing its teeth. You will want to click the clicker to teach your dog that you want the mouth to be open. You can even push up on your dogs cheek and whisker area until your dog learns to do this on command.

Remember that praise and treats are absolutely essential to have a successful training session. Without these, or if there is stress during the training, your dog could become fearful and actually lash out at you.

Step 4. Getting your Dog to Perform on Command

After you and your dog have mastered the physical touch aspect, it is time to put your command to it. Are you going to tell your dog to smile, or are you going to say show your teeth? So, pick out what you’re going to say because that is what your dog will learn to respond to.

So, you are now ready to begin the next phase of training.

  • Say your command, such as smile and then touch your hand to your dog’s whiskers, and your dog will follow by reciprocating the touch and start to smile.
  • When you see your dog do this, click your clicker.
  • Give your dog its reward.
  • Repeat the process until your dog can recognize the command.

After your dog gets used to you saying the command word, you will start to skip the touching the cheek or whisker aspect of your training. This will take time; do not take it away from your training right away. Do it slowly and practice the other steps just by saying the command word of smile.

Smiling Dog

Tips for Training

Below are some tips that will really help you get through the training process with your dog.

  • Keep your training session to the point and short. Dogs are very intelligent, but it is important that you keep your sessions short not to stress your dog out.
  • Make the training sessions with your dog fun. Dogs can feel energy, so if you are anxious or getting upset by how the session is going, your dog will pick up on that.
  • Remember to be patient. Your dog will not learn this command right away, so this could take weeks to even months. It really depends on how consistent you are with the training too.
  • Don’t make training a fearful experience. If this happens, your dog will get anxious every time you train, and ultimately your dog probably won’t be able to learn what you want it to learn because of its fear.
  • Lastly, give your dog lots of praise, attention, love, and of course, treats to create a very positive experience.

Different Types of Dog Smiles

There are a few different smiles that your dog may show, and you will want to differentiate between these to really understand if it is a dangerous situation or if your dog is just relaxed.

Submissive Smile – This happens naturally when a dog is being submissive to the alpha. The dog may be sitting low on the ground with its teeth showing and ears behind its head. Your dog is not trying to hurt you in this state.

Aggressive Smile – An angry dog can be showing its teeth in an aggressive way. Your dog could be growling while showing its teeth. This can be a dangerous situation where your dog could potentially hurt you or someone else.

Relaxed Smile – A dog that is really comfortable or relaxed may actually smile or appear to be smiling. This can happen when your dog is totally in a calm and relaxed space.

Are Dogs Actually Happy When They Smile?

This is really hard to say. Most likely, your dog is smiling naturally or looks smiley because your dog is relaxed. So, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is smiling directly at you. There are times when dogs show signs of submission to other dogs or owners, and your dog will look like it is smiling.

Us owners do like to think that we make our dogs happy so it is completely fine to assume our dogs are smiling back at us. I am sure they are deep down inside they just can’t tell us.

How To Teach Your Dog To smile

Why Does my Dog Growl When It Shows its Teeth?

Naturally, when a dog shows its teeth, it would be due to an aggressive behavior. You may have seen this if your dog has aggressive tendencies. Your dog also could be growling, but it doesn’t mean your dog is being aggressive. There are some cues that you can look for to tell if your dog is angry.

If your dog is presenting itself in a very stiff body position or if your dog tries to snap at you, then your dog is presenting an aggressive growl. On the other hand, if your dog seems relaxed and acting normal, then your dog is just growling because it is natural to do so when smiling.

*Don’t be alarmed by the behavior unless you feel like your dog is doing it in fear or in anger.


Now you know how to teach your dog to smile on command. It will take time, so your dog will not have this skill down right away. Remember to be a patient dog owner and reward your dog when it successfully listens to your commands.

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