Trick Training: A Conundrum

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There are few things that excite me as much as working with a “Trick Dog.”  Of course everything we teach dogs is a type of “trick”. However, a dog who is energized by challenges beyond the ordinary sit-stays : a dog who loves to learn to “Dance”, “Jump” or give a “Paw” …this type of dog is like a fresh mound of clay in my hands.  With clients I select a trick or two to enhance everyday life. “Fetch the diaper” is a big hit with the parent set, while “Jump through a hoop” is a winner with the 7-12 year old crowd, and everybody would far prefer their dog dance when greeting than claw for attention, but………….

Living with a “Trick dog” wannabe is another story all together.  I’m shaping our new boy, Balderdash, into a super dog…a dog that will in time carry the groceries, fetch a beverage from the fridge and leap over the kids in a single bound.  He’s already aced the Agility course and only stands to out-perform himself.  But here is a secret you’ll only hear from me–living with a trick dog is a daily test of patience.  If you want a dog that will fetch the diapers or carry a log in for the fire, you can’t over-correct him for picking up a wayward tee-shirt or couch pillow.  If the goal is that he open and shut doors, you can’t freak out when oops…he opened the wrong one and oops…now the kids know what they’re getting for Christmas! Trick training, as all dog training, requires self-control and creativity, not so much for the dog…but for the people.  It’s a good lesson, just to focus on the basics, stress less, praise more.