The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog Tricks

The value of training a dog tricks is many times overlooked because most people simply want a dog that can perform basic obedience and really don’t understand the benefits of trick training.   This short paper was put together to increase awareness of the importance of trick training and bring some variety to your training table, along with the hope you’ll have some laughs! Though tricks are great to show your dog off to neighbors and friends they are really meant for you and your dog to have fun spending time together.  While training with a positive motivational approach there are many benefits to training tricks, I’ve listed several below, and I’m sure you’ll discover even more in your trick training exercises!

Benefits of Trick Training

1.    A great relationship bonding and trust building exercise for you and your dog. 

2.    Overall health

  • Mental health:  Tricks provide positive mental stimulation, help to release pent-up energy and increase concentration.
  • Physical health:  Many tricks will help build endurance, stamina, and muscle tone all contributing to your dog’s physical well-being.

3.    Practical applications

  • Teaching tricks is an excellent learning exercise for kids – they learn to be calm, patient leaders all while they’re having fun with the dog. 
     
  • Tricks such as “drop” or “leave it” can not only save your slippers, but may also save your dog from a dangerous situation such as if medication were accidently dropped on the floor or something not good for the dog is found along the road while out for a walk. 
     
  • “Play dead” could come in handy at the vet, or “shake” while getting a nail trim. 
     
  • Tricks can help make breeds with a “bad reputation” appear friendlier and would possibly help a rescue dog to get adopted.

Important Side Benefits of Trick Training

  • Your dog’s overall obedience, manners, and confidence level will improve.
     
  • The more you teach your dog the quicker she will learn because your dog’s learning ability will improve, as well as your teaching and communication skills.
Certified dog trainer Chris Guest and Sunny show you some trick capabilities.

Conclusion

Do you want your dog to remain in “grade school” their whole life?  No, you’d like them to progress to “high school” or maybe even “college” by teaching them to gather knowledge, have fun and most importantly to better understand you.  Teaching tricks is one way to aid in that educational development and to have a good time doing it.  Progress at your dog’s pace, taking advantage of things that they may already like to do, but just don’t have a cue/command for the behavior yet.  For example, if your dog likes to “play bow” when you’re playing, make use of that and add a “bow” cue to the behavior, then practice “bow” at other times.  Consider your dog’s abilities, age and temperament while keeping training sessions short and fun. 
Use your imagination, but some possible trick ideas:
 

  • Shake
  • Circle around
  • High five
  • Balance treat on nose, toss, catch
  • Wave
  • Find/Bring leash
  • Bow
  • Put toys away in basket
  • Roll
  • Weave through legs
  • Spin on all 4
  • Jump into arms
  • Up on hind 2
  • Jump on back (Back Stall)
  • Crawl
  • Fetch beer from frig :)

Chris Guest, ABCDT, CTDI