When you think of dog training most people will think about teaching your dog to sit, down or walk correctly on a lead, but this is necessity training. There is a whole new world out there if you want to embrace it. Trick training allows your dog to show off and you can tailor it to your dog’s strengths and needs. Depending on the way you train your tricks you may be setting your dog up for success in so many other situations. The general goal is to not only train those necessities but to mix them up with tricks or games that enhance and motivate your dog.
There are many reasons why trick training is beneficial for your dog and yourself but here are a few.
1) Enhancing the canine-human bond.
If you use a shaping method of training the session are a joint exploration of understanding. You learn while your dog learns. Nothing is wrong during this session, so everything is kept really positive. This is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. There is no limitation to the behaviours you can develop with your dog. Win-win for everyone.
2) Develop your dog’s mental acuity through free shaping
Training tricks allows your dog to exercise their creative side. Training tricks from an early age allows your dog the opportunity to develop an enquiring mind. This will build your dog’s confidence and resilience when they make mistakes and allow them to bounce back. A massive benefit when dealing with behavioural issues. Your dog will find this quite addictive and will offer you even more ideas for tricks.
Building your dogs confidence.
3) Providing alternative behaviours when stressed out.
Once your dog has a repertoire of tricks up their sleeves you can utilise these when they are in stressful situations. Say for example you see another dog on the other side of the street and your dog starts to react. Rather than them wanting to bite the dog you can start to ask for some of their tricks. This will refocus your dog and they’ll start to offer other ones. So much better to reward your dog than tell them off for barking or biting.
4) Gives you a refocusing exercise
Like humans when dogs are learning intense things like lead walking, they sometimes lose focus. They drop out of their optimal learning zone. If your dog knows tricks, then you can use these to bring the dog back into this zone. It will enhance the speed at which your dog learns in more conventional training lessons.
5) Develops a dog that make good choices
During trick training and shaping your dog gets to make their own choices. When these are promoted positively your dog starts to gain more control of the way they act. This will have a massive knock-on effect in everyday life. They may even choose not to chase the next door’s cat.
Some awesome trick you could teach your dog to do.
- Target your hand with their nose. Hold that position until you ask them to break.
- Go to bed and stay there. This is a great one when you have visitors around and you want to make sure your dog is in a safe space.
- Wave goodbye to visitors when they leave.
- Turn the lights switch on and off.
- Fetch your newspaper.
- Copy you when you move your head left and right.
To name but a few…
The list can be endless only being limited by your imagination. But remember there is one thing that you will need to have bags of when starting to train tricks – PATIENCE. Remember to let the dog do the work, shape their experience, and promote the positive results. You might like to look at clicker training. If your dog hasn’t done any shaping exercises before they may take a while to offer different behaviours. A client’s dog sat in front of me for 10 minutes before they tried something new, patience is really a virtue.
The most important thing is that you have fun with it, and don’t get frustrated.