Top 5 reasons to teach your dog tricks

Sometimes we hear people say that teaching tricks is a “waste of time” or that tricks training is not “serious” dog training, but here are 5 reasons to consider teaching your dog a trick or two.

1. Body awareness

Performing tricks requires your dog to move their body in different ways. To do so they need to have a good awareness of the position of their limbs in relation to one another and the rest of their body. They need to move in co-ordinated ways and they need to be flexible. Good proprioception, co-ordination and flexibility reduces a dog’s risk of injury from slips and trips and set them up for maintaining their mobility into their senior years.

Tricks to for proprioception, co-ordination and flexibility include:

• Front feet on an object and pivoting with back legs
• Backing up
• Paw targeting
• Spin
• Bow

2. Fun

Tricks training is fun. There is no pressure on you or your dog to be able to perform a trick in distracting situations unlike “safety exercises” like a recall, emergency exit or control positions. If you dog can’t do a trick around other dogs, then it really doesn’t matter, it is just for fun. Tricks training takes the pressure of you as a trainer.

Further, there is no need for tricks to be performed precisely or meet strict criteria like your everyday behaviours such as loose lead walking and control positions. You can just teach a trick for fun and if you dog can do it, that is great otherwise “no sweat”.

3. Builds reliable foundation skills

Teaching tricks builds on your dog’s foundation skills in an indirect and fun way. By teaching tricks, you are transferring the fun and joy of tricks onto everyday behaviours like name recognition, recall, control positions and releases. For example, you are teaching a paw lift (shake hands or wave), your dog needs to understand an informal recall, sit in front, and wait for your cue to lift their paw. By teaching a simple trick you are also reinforcing everyday skills.

4. Relationship

Like all training activities you do with your dogs, tricks training builds teamwork and trust between you and your dog. You need to work together to perform tricks. You dog needs to listen and watch you to be able to respond. Similarly, you are engaging with your dog in a fun way and helping them understand the trick you want to perform. The fun of teaching tricks transfers to your dog’s enjoyment of doing things with you.

5. Enrichment

We all know that a dog that has exercised their brain is a contented dog. They are more likely to settle and not demonstrate undesirable behaviours like digging, chewing, barking and escaping. You may not be able to exercise your dog every day, but building your dog’s repertoire of tricks gives them a job to do and helps them to settle. Even 10 minutes tricks training daily will benefit your dog.

Note: Please choose tricks that are suitable for your dog’s body shape, health status, and stage of life. Performing some tricks may cause pain or injury to your dog.

For more information about tricks that may be suitable for your dog, please speak to your Teamwork Dogs trainer. Teamwork Dogs offers group classes for puppies, adolescent, and adult dogs at Taigum on Saturday morning and Caboolture on Sunday morning.

Happy training!

Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay