Have you taught your dog any tricks? Would you like to learn how? Today's show is all about tricks and how to get started in trick training.Support the show
Hello! How are you today? How are things going around you? I hope you are doing well. I hope you are finding ways to enjoy being with your dog and getting out to experience fun things together.
On the topic of fun, today I want to talk about tricks! Who doesn’t like watching fun tricks right? Trick training is a great way to build a relationship with your dog and have fun at the same time. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured and I feel like that also applies to having a dog!
It is easy to feel overwhelmed in the beginning with a new dog or puppy because of the amount of time spent supervising them to prevent unwanted habits like chewing on furniture, peeing on floors or chasing your children or other household pets. I want to help you see the fun in having a dog as well and learn how to use these fun things to improve behavior! Tricks are a fabulous way to help your kids spend time with the puppy in a structured way - this gives them the ability to be with the puppy without the biting, chasing or other unwanted behaviors. And kids usually get pretty excited to teach a high five, shake or spin! Tricks are a great way to motivate family members to build a relationship with your dog and motivate your dog to learn new things. Because tricks are fun, they are a great way to redirect a dog onto a good behavior in a positive way. Take greeting a guest for example. Some dogs have a really hard time sitting still - why not ask for a few tricks to get them thinking and moving as the guest approaches and initial excitement wears off. It is easy to focus on my dog can’t sit still - but try to think what can my dog do? What do they really enjoy? Try pairing that with a situation that may be more difficult for them.
Before we dive into it, what tricks have you taught your dog? What tricks do you want to teach your dog? Please share them with us on social media - just tag us @baxterandbella and @theonlinepuppyschool for a chance to be featured on our pages! This is going to make for a fun weekend - watching all of you work with your dogs and show off your talents! Let’s bring some sunshine to the world this weekend! I can’t wait to see your posted videos.
If you’re just getting started with trick training you may be asking, where do I begin? As part of our online membership, we have a JUST FOR FUN section with several different things you can start with. We teach shake - your dog gives you their paw to offer a hand shake, high five - your dog puts up their paw for you to give a high five, turn - your dog spins in a circle, roll - your dog rolls onto their back for a belly rub, catch - your dog catches in their mouth a tossed item, kiss - your dogs licks your face or hand on cue, fetch - your dog retrieves a tossed item and more. You may access these learning modules at any time so when you have a spare minute or want your kids to spend time with your puppy, check out the JUST FOR FUN section.
The AKC or American Kennel Club has a website called AKC Trick Dog. There are several different levels of achievement including novice, intermediate, advanced, performer and elite performer. Each level has a list of trick options to teach your dog. To help you get started they include videos of how to teach your dog tricks listed on the Novice level. Any dog can participate - you just need to fill out an application to get your dog an AKC number. This is all explained on their trick dog site.
There is some paperwork involved to apply for the official trick title at each of the different levels. They recently came out with an online application page making it super quick and easy to complete. Ten tricks are required for each level. Options are listed for each of the different levels along with instructions and anything else you may need to know. Once you and your dog are ready to complete the level, you may be evaluated in person by an approved AKC CGC evaluator or you may be evaluated online via video. I LOVE watching the videos sent in to me and evaluating the trick performances. It is very rewarding to watch you and your dogs work together and have fun with training!
Have I piqued your interest? I hope so! I hope you are saying, “Ok Amy, sounds fun I want to try it.” Then you may be saying next, “How do I do it?”
Let’s, for simplicity's sake, say you want to train your dog to GET IN A BOX - one of the tricks for the novice level. You can do this right now as you listen to this podcast. Ready?
You’ll need a box haha - big enough for your dog to fit in. If Amazon visits your home, you most likely have one sitting around. Go grab it.
Next, grab 20-30 pencil eraser sized pieces of your dog’s favorite food item and put them in your training pouch. Using your dog’s meal is great! This would be a fun exercise to do in place of putting their breakfast in a bowl, hint hint.
Because I love shaping so much, I’m going to teach you how to do this using this technique - you can of course, lure your dog in and out of the box (similar to dangling a carrot in front of a horse’s nose to get them to move) but let’s practice getting your dog to figure this out on their own! Some dogs may have zero interest in the box so shaping can help them achieve it using small steps and successes. Enough technicality - let’s get going.
Get your dog’s attention and find a quiet room where you can begin.
Place the box in the middle of the room and stare at it.
When your dog looks at it, mark “YES” and pay them a food reward. Repeat this 5-10 times until you can see your dog understands looking at the box is getting them the reward.
Then progress to saying “YES” when your dog’s head moves over or in the box. Repeat as you did in step one.
Next, wait to say “YES” until your dog puts one paw in the box. Repeat until you know they understand putting their paw in the box is what gets them a reward.
Once they are comfortable with putting one paw inside, wait to mark until they have two paws inside, then three, then four.
When your dog puts all four paws inside the box, then jackpot reward them! Give them 4-6 treats at once! Throw a little party. Repeat until they are happily jumping in the box.
At this point, they know how to do the behavior so we can name it. Cue, “Get in the box” then point to the box. Mark “YES” when they are inside and reward.
You’ve just taught your dog their first trick.
This shaping method may be used in so many different ways to teach a whole host of tricks. Simply know what you want the end behavior to be, then break that down into small achievable steps for your dog. Reward along the way until the final behavior is achieved.
You may only get to them putting one paw in the box before you need to move on with your day. Completely fine. Other dogs may go from putting their head in to jumping in right away! It varies from puppy to puppy and trick to trick. Be patient and have fun! I enjoy shaping as it takes a lot of frustration with training out of the equation. I didn’t ask my dog to do anything so I can’t be disappointed when they don’t do something. This turns me into a cheerleader - celebrating their successes!
Choose a trick and try shaping this weekend with your dog! I think you might get hooked. That’s it for today! Remember I want to see your videos.
Send us a video of your dog doing their favorite trick. Tag @baxterandbella on instagram for a chance to be featured on our social media!