Nice dog! Does it do any tricks? From foot targeting to create the perfect conformation stand stay, a hand touch to help with therapy dog visits, or hold for the ideal photo opportunity. Tricks do it all. Really? That’s a trick? Absolutely! To your dog everything you ask it to do is a trick. They are dogs. They do not do this stuff because that is what they do. They do it because we ask it of them. Having the trick mindset makes every task more enjoyable.
Tricks are useful in everyday life; they help build two-way communication and confidence. Tasks including grooming and vet visits become a breeze when a dog knows how to perform a few simple tricks. Four feet on is perfect for getting an accurate weight or hopping on a grooming table. While a solid chin rest trick can work for taking temperatures, giving injection, checking lungs and so much more. As a bonus your dog will be more relaxed in these situations because they know what is expected of them and your Vet will brag about you and your dog forever after. (Trust me, I’ve heard stories about my dogs from other patrons of our Vet clinic!)
Tricks are also great for the body. They use muscles that might be neglected by the dog and help keep them limber and vital throughout all life stages. Tricks like spin and figure eight are great stretches and can be incorporated into warm up and cool down for many dog sports. Balance on a wobbly table and sit pretty do wonders for core strengthening. While a trick like rear foot targeting is great for body awareness. Adding tricks like these to your dog’s daily routine will benefit both their mental and physical health.
Tricks are now a titling opportunity! While Do More With Your Dog (DMYD) is still the world’s leading trick dog program, The American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and the Dansk Kennel Klub (DKK) all officially recognize trick dog titles.
• AKC offers 5 Trick Dog Titles: Novice (TKN), Intermediate (TKI), Advanced (TKA), Performer (TKP), and Elite Performer (TKE). There are two ways to earn AKC titles, test with an approved AKC CGC Evaluator in person or via video or submit your Do More With Your Dog Title directly to the AKC. For all levels 10 tricks from the AKC approved list for that level will be performed. The difficulty of tricks and the proficiency increases as the titling level increases. Treats are allowed as reinforcement at all levels and can even be used as lures in some beginner tricks. You can find the complete list of rules and regulations on the AKC website.
• Do More With Your Dog offers a wide variety of Trick titles, four standard trick dog titles; Novice (NTD), Intermediate (ITD), Advanced (ATD), Expert (ETD). Two champion trick dog titles; Champion (TDCH) and Grand Champion (TDGCH), four optional master titles; Novice Master (NTD-M), Intermediate Master (ITD-M), Advanced Master (ATD-M), and Expert Master (ETD-M), and new specialty titles like Alphabet Challenge (AtoZ). To earn your DMWYD Trick Dog titles novice through expert, master titles, and specialty titles you and your dog perform for a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) either in person or via video. As with AKC each level has its own requirements and trick lists. Unlike AKC all tricks must be taught using positive methods, each trick needs only be shown once, the same tricks can be used for multiple titles, and the CTDI can work with you to make arrangements for senior or disabled dogs. DMWYD Trick Dog Champion and Grand Champion titles are reviewed by DMWYD staff. They demonstrate skills in all foundation behavior categories-coordination, mouth target, paw target, nose target, scent, distance, signals, and chain-and prove happiness and versatility. Do More With Your Dog also offers titling opportunities in fitness and stunt dog. As with most dog sports titles must be earned consecutively. A link to the website for the complete list of tricks and rules can be found in the resource guide below.
Sounds great but how do I get started? Many local clubs, CGC Evaluators and Certified Trick Dog Instructors offer great in person classes, while online options grow every day. Fenzi dog sport academy is a wonderful online resource and DMWYD offers free FaceBook Sparks teams for help and inspiration. YouTube is another good place for inspiration as you can find many trick explanations and examples there. Work at your pace and how you learn best, you definitely do not have to do this alone. Familiarize yourself with positive training methods: lure, capture, and marker training are all great techniques to have in your tool bag when teaching tricks. Tricks are all about relationship building and FUN so get out your treats and pay for performance. Worried about weight gain? Just set aside part of your dog’s daily meals and use them for training. Even spending just a few minutes several days a week on tricks can change your lives.
Whether you intend to participate in Conformation, Obedience, Working Dog Sports, Animal Assisted Therapy, Dog Dancing, or you just want the best life for your Best friend, trick training will help you reach your goals. Give tricks a try, What's your excuse?
Written by and all photo & video credits to:
Tiffany Moran, AKC CGC & Trick Dog Evaluator, AKC Fit Dog Instructor,
DMWYD Trick Dog Instructor, NCA Ambassador