Dog trick training: Why trick training benefits dogs of any age.
Often when someone welcomes a new dog they focus on obedience training. I get many obedience enquiries, typically when a puppy has reached over 4 months and their independent nature is emerging. The conversation usually sounds like this, “My dog isn’t listening. He will not come back when I call!” As a result, owners often focus on the need to train a dog to stay, leave, sit, down, etc. These are worthy cues to master, but it is not the be-all and end-all of training a well-behaved dog.
A dog who listens to its owner is focused on them and wants to engage with them outside. They are a dog who enjoys being with and working with that person. A relationship like this is achievable in a fun way, not with dominance, force, or cohesion.
This is where trick training can come in. During trick training, the human is still learning the mechanics of dog training; timing, marking the correct behaviours, and using reinforcement. However, they are teaching their dogs something fun and different. Training sessions can become an exciting event. The positive, fun energy is felt by your dog too. If you are having fun, chances are they are too.
Rather than training a sit, we could teach a wave or leg weaves. An alternative to ‘stay’ could be playing dead. Whatever you decide to teach, you will end up with a dog that wants to be with you and is looking forward to learning and playing with you. Focus, fun, and engagement are what will have your dog respond to you when you call.
You can teach an old dog new tricks! To prevent cognitive decline as they advance in age, we should stimulate our senior dog’s minds. Learning new behaviours isn’t just for pups. You can pick the trick to learn depending on your dog’s mobility. They may not be able to jump through hoops, but they can ‘speak’ on cue or cross over their front paws.
We will be holding trick dog training classes in the new year at Oday Vets in Centurion. If you are not in the area, we do hold sessions 1-2-1 over Zoom, for those who want to learn but don’t have classes nearby. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.