April Fools – The Value in Training Tricks by Roberta Caley, CPDT-KA

What is trick training?

Trick training is when you teach your dog a fun trick vs general obedience cue.  Tricks can range from easy, such as high five, touch, roll over, spin, bow or crawl.  More advanced behaviors include playing dead, opening/shutting doors, or riding a skateboard.  Whether or not you need to teach your dog these behaviors, there are lots of benefits to trick training.

Why teach your dogs tricks?

Training is a natural bonding experience with your dog.  Since it’s not as important for your dog to be able to perform a trick, it tends to lower expectations and opens the door to a more relaxed experience. A side effect of this bonding is your dog will be more attentive to you as it builds your value in your dog’s eyes. 

Training tricks can help get you out of a normally frustrating situation. Imagine you are on a walk with your dog and come upon a group of kids. Say your dog is nervous around children or jumps upon greeting, you can take this time to politely decline petting your dog and instead ask if they want to see what tricks your dog can do. This keeps everyone safe and happy because who wouldn’t want to see a cool trick?

The weather in New England is not always predictable. Training a trick is a good way to work your dog’s brain on a rainy, snowy, extreme heat/cold day. It helps get rid of some of that excess energy that your shorter walk might be lacking in. 

Some of these tricks can be useful. Imagine you broke your leg and can send your dog to fetch you a cold beverage or open and close doors for you. Teaching your dog to potty on cue can save you from spending too much time in extreme temperatures. Having your dog search can help distract your dog from something nearby or alternatively you can use it to enrich your dog’s life. Did you know you can teach your dog to pick up their own toys? How useful would that be?

Tricks can also be used as replacement behaviors. Having trouble getting your dog to sit when guests arrive? You can replace the jumping with spin or bow. Trick training can boost confidence and help your dog feel better in strange or new situations. Having trouble getting your dog on the scale at the vet’s office? Try using the cue touch or hand targeting

There are many benefits to training tricks. Whether the trick has practical functions or just fun, trick training is a great way to bond with your dog and enrich their life making for a content dog and happy parent.

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Is my dog growing out of daycare? By Roberta Caley CPDT-KA