Why I heart trick training

So is anyone else as excited by the new show on Animal Planet called Super Fetch as I am? Hosted by Zak George this is a show that literally shows how you can teach any dog any trick in a step by step process. I love it. The first episode had a french bulldog that was owned by a man with a hair salon. To help drum up business he wanted the dog to fetch the clients gowns once they sat down. The other dog in the episode was an akita mix. The wife of the household wanted to teach the dog to move the husbands alarm clock when it when off in the morning to prevent him from hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the morning. I won't tell you how it turned out, but I will say I loved the part where the wife was happy that the dog was now listening to her more since starting working with him. Before that the dog was much more into her husband. She realized that the training helped them build a better bond with each other. I found another episode with a guy that wanted his dog to do a trick so he could get women's phone numbers hysterical. (homework is always assigned which the owner never did)

I have to admit I once thought tricks were a silly extra in dog training. I have since discovered that tricks have alot of power. Consider that for some reason people expect dogs to do the basics like sit and lay down. Stay and come are also not very flashy but also expected by many owners. Even when your dog knows these exercises people aren't impressed. But there is something about your dog showing off a trick that makes them look brilliant to everyone around. Even if that same dog eats it's own poo or gets lost in tall grass.

I am a big fan of rescue groups teaching tricks along with the basics to dogs that are waiting for homes. Just one good trick can really wow potential adopters. People think that if you can teach a dog a trick, then they can learn anything. This can then translate for some people that those really smart dogs can learn to be very well behaved dogs. (which of course we know they can)

Trick training is always a positive way to interact with your dog. And alot of tricks also utilize some basic obedience at the core so you are teaching more than just a trick. For instance you can't teach roll over until you teach down first. Trick training can also help you learn to communicate more effectively with your dog. If they do not understand what you are asking, they cannot learn the trick. It challenges the owner to bridge that communication gap between canine and human.

Trick training can be great mental stimulation for high energy dogs as well. The act of having to figure out what their human wants can be challenging for them. Mental stimulation can help to tire out a dog that needs an energy burn off. Think rainy day and no walk. Or maybe the owner is physically limited in some way. Think broken leg and no walk. Mental stimulation can be a way to manage a dog that needs something to do to prevent boredom related destruction as well.

Trick training can also be more fun for some owners to do than basic obedience training. If it is more fun for the owner then they will be willing to participate more training their dog. If they work with the dog more and because of that build a better bond they are then more willing to invest time into the basic obedience work as well. It is a win win situation.

These are just a few reasons I like seeing dogs doing tricks.

Not convinced trick training has any real value? Check out this guys story. He has turned a trick into an enterprise to sustain himself. http://www.ohmidog.com/2009/10/20/two-beans/

And here is more info on Zak George with some videos. http://blogs.discovery.com/zak_george/

One of my training goals for this year is to work through the book 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy. I also have a special trick up my sleeve I want to teach my pug Jenny too. I'll be sure to report back on my progress.