Today’s topic is “Tricks – How They Help Your Dog and You.” So I like training tricks, and they have been a fun part of the curriculum and my basic obedience course. In that course, for those of you that don’t know, I’m training dogs how to stay, come when called, and how to walk nicely on a leash. But dogs also need to learn how to have some fun. And tricks are an excellent way for people to be able to engage their dogs.
So today, I want to go over some of the benefits of how tricks actually can benefit your dog. And then I’ll go into some of the ways that they can help you.
So there’s a variety of tricks. The AKC has a fantastic program. And if you’re looking for a list of tricks, do a quick Google search for AKC trick dog, and you’re going to see that there’s stuff from a beginner to the master level. Where you’re putting on some choreographed show, and your dog is doing a bizarre or a fantastic array of tricks.
So how do the tricks help your dog? Well, your dog can do a lot of different things. They’ve got four legs. They’ve got this great nose, and they can hear quite a bit of things. They can perceive motion; they have some ability to detect color. And I’m sure I could go on and on. But the way the tricks help your dog is that they help your dog become more aware of their body and the different ways that they can use it.
Sure, your dog can do some things automatically. But with any training, you’re bringing awareness to certain parts of the body. And doing that can help your dog quite a bit. So let me give you an example of a couple of tricks that I like to teach practically anybody I work with.
Spin and Twirl
So the first two tricks that I teach are just variations on one another. They are spin and twirl. These are clockwise and counterclockwise circles that I have the dog do. What kind of awareness does that bring into the dog? Well, it brings in what’s called rear-end awareness. Rear-end awareness is helping your dog understand how to use their rear legs and move them in different directions and perhaps even at different speeds. One of the cool things that I’ve seen dogs do that have fantastic rear-end awareness is not only walking backward, but where they can do a handstand on their front paws, but their rear legs are up against a wall or something like that—pretty cool trick.
So like I said, the general thing that tricks are doing for your dog is they’re teaching your dog how to be more aware. But another thing that is teaching your dog is that their human is actually somebody fun that they can engage with. It’s essential for your dog not just to see you as a disciplinarian, but somebody that can employ their brain in a way and help them become a better version of themselves through tricks and games and different skills like that.
So if you’re looking to liven up your relationship with your dog, tricks may be a great place to be able to do just that.
Get Attention From Your Dog
So now on to the next part, tricks, how do they help you? The first thing that I think about is it would help you get better general attention from your dog. Now, when I’m talking about attention, a lot of times, I’m talking about the dog’s ability to listen to what we’re saying and also to watch the different body language cues that we’re inherently using.
So tricks are going to help the dog do that. So you’ll get better attention from your dog if you start working on tricks, and why is that? Well, the reason that you’re getting that is that you’re going to have to improve your nonverbal communication. And if you’re any good at it, you’re also going to be working on making sure that you develop voice commands correctly.
I like the tricks for that reason, to help people to get better at things that they may not be aware of. Giving a hand signal to a dog seems pretty natural because we’re so great with our arms. But the way a dog perceives our body language is just a little different from how other humans might perceive it.
Be A Better Communicator
So you’ll get to figure out the nuance of how your dog is going to respond, and that, in turn, is going to help you become a better communicator. So there’s a lot of things that the tricks can do for your dog, but I would encourage everybody today to go out and try some different tricks. Try some spins, twirls, weaving through your legs, try roll over, or try even balancing a treat on your dog’s nose as they sit. They can stare at the treat before you release them.
I hope you found this helpful. And maybe it’ll encourage you to try some new things. Remember to visit my YouTube Channel for helpful videos and find more tips like this right here on my website www.longoriahausdogtraining.com.