If you’ve never taught your dog tricks, you are missing out on some serious fun. While it’s true that we often refer to the good manners behaviors (sit, down, come, etc.) as tricks, that’s just the beginning. There are so many more clever and entertaining behaviors your dog can learn – and for good reason.
Confidence: because tricks are fun and can be done almost any where, they are a good way to help your dog develop confidence and feel confident in what otherwise might be stressful situations or conditions where your dog might feel uncertain. For example, if your dog gets nervous while you’re waiting to visit your vet, interacting with him with a few favorite tricks can alleviate his concern; if your dog is bothered by thunderstorms, engaging him in some tricks that the loves to do can take lesson his focus on what’s happening outside; if your dog doesn’t like being in crowds or going to new places, doing some tricks play can reduce his stress.
Mental/physical benefits: tricks can range from the simple to the complex; they can involve just one of the dog’s paws or his entire body. When your dog learns to wave, roll over, crawl, sit pretty, weave through your legs, jump through a hoop, pivot on a platform, back up, etc., he uses lots of different muscles as well as brain cells! Consequently, tricks keep your dog mentally stimulated, in shape physically, and lead to him being content if not down right tired from all that thinking and learning!
Bonding: any time you train with your dog you are enhancing your bond, your relationship, your teamwork. The variety of things you do when working on tricks with your dog means there’s lots to do together and lots to keep your dog interested in learning with you, staying engaged with you, paying attention to you, and playing with you. Things don’t get much better than that!
Entertainment: there’s no doubt about it – tricks are entertaining. People love to see dogs do tricks as much as dogs love to do tricks. Tricks make people smile, and they certainly bring out enthusiasm in dogs. If you want to see a dog’s face light up, ask him to take a bow or do a high five or jump into your arms. And if anyone was around to watch, you’ll be sure to hear some applause and cheering as a result.
Titles: did you know that dogs can now earn tricks titles from the American Kennel Club? There are four levels of titles in the AKC Trick Dog program: Novice Trick Dog (TKN – dog needs to do 10 tricks from the novice list or five tricks and a CGC title), Intermediate Trick Dog (TKI – dog needs to do 10 tricks from the intermediate tricks list), Advanced Trick Dog (TKA – dog needs to do five tricks from the advanced list), and Trick Dog Performer (TKP – dog needs to do 10 previously learned or new tricks from any of the lists but at least 2 intermediate and 2 advanced tricks). Assuming your dog is registered with the AKC, he is eligible to earn his tricks titles from an official AKC Canine Good Citizens evaluator. How much fun would that be for your dog to obtain a title for doing what he loves?
Therapy Dog: therapy dogs who can perform situation-appropriate, crowd-pleasing tricks are a big hit with and a big benefit to the people they visit. The tricks make people smile and laugh, they stimulate conversation, they provide entertainment, and they give the dog something to do on a visit in addition to being loved and petted. Not all tricks are the right fit for every visiting scenario, but don’t worry. In addition to our regular Tricks for Kicks class, we offer a Tricks for Therapy Dogs class that helps you learn and choose the right trick for the right situation.
So, if you have not yet taught your dog tricks, what are you waiting for? If you aren’t sure how to go about it, or if you want help in expanding your dog’s tricks repertoire, or if you are ready to pursue a tricks title for your dog, join one of our
classes. We will be happy to help!