• Dog At Heart | Rachel Forday

Why You Should Teach Your Dog Tricks

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

You can teach an old dog new tricks. My dog, Dave, and I just received our Novice Trick Dog title certificate from Do More With Your Dog yesterday! I'm so proud of him for getting this as his first title at the age of 10 years old and we're working towards the Intermediate Trick Dog title next!

Check out the video below to see the tricks we used in our submission!

Some people may think that trick training is pointless, that it’s just for showing off, or that it's just for human entertainment. However, we’d argue that trick training has lots of benefits and it’s why we love doing it. Learning tricks using positive reinforcement can:

  • Build your dog’s confidence

  • Reduce unwanted behaviours

  • Be used in cooperative care and handling

  • Provide your dog with mental stimulation

  • Improve your dog’s fitness

  • Improve your training mechanics

  • And most importantly, strengthen your relationship with your dog

For example, one of the tricks in our video is called “Middle”, aka “Peek-A-Boo”. With “Middle”, you can get your dog to stay close to you if a scary trigger appears at a distance, you can keep your smaller dog safe between your legs if you’re somewhere crowded, or you can use it in addition to a chin rest at the vets for your dog to stay still and get his blood drawn.

Here are some other examples of how tricks can be useful:

  • Paw/Shake/High-5 can be used for paw handling and nail clipping

  • Play dead can be used for cooperative vet/grooming care including nail care⠀

  • Backwards walking can be used to get your dog to move away from something you’ve dropped on the floor

  • Shape discrimination/targeting can be used if you have a multi-dog household and you need them to station in separate places for training

I’m currently working on a number of tricks with Dave that will eventually get us to formal heeling. Why are we doing this? For me, it’s to work on my training mechanics to become a better trainer. For my dog, it’s mental stimulation and fitness exercises done in a fun way! And of course, we’re doing it to continue to build our bond together.

If you make training fun, just about anything can be considered a trick. As you can see in the video of our Novice Trick Dog submission above, some of the "tricks" we submitted are what people often consider to be basic obedience or basic life skills behaviours such as Sit, Down, and Stay. Whether or not you consider something a trick, the most important thing is that you've made learning it fun for your dog and rewarded your dog for doing the behaviours you've asked for!

What tricks are you currently working on with your dog and what tricks would you like to teach your dog? Let us know! :)

Check out our Instagram page to see a little graphic we made on this topic!