Have you seen the incredible routines of Ashleigh and her dog Pudsey, winners of Britain's got Talent 2012? And now we have Jules and her dog Matisse who have just won in 2015. Or maybe you've watched a YouTube video of someone's dog doing amazing tricks and thought, "I wish I could teach my dog to do tricks like that!" Well, you can!
Teaching your dog tricks, takes time and effort but the benefits for both of you are awful. As well as being able to amaze your friends with your dog's intelligence (as well of course, as your ability as a top dog trainer!), Teaching your dog tricks helps you bond with your pet in many ways. Below are some of the reasons why it's a great idea to start teaching your dog some tricks:
Alleviate boredom and destructive behavior – Training your dog to do tricks will allow him to constructively release his energy. If your dog is focused and occupied, he is not destroying the sofa or eating your shoes or phone charger for example!
Help keep your dog's mind sharp – like humans, it's good for dogs to keep their minds active and responsive. Learning and performing tricks will help to do this.
Create a better bond – You and your dog become a team. Teaching your dog tricks will allow a two-way communication between you and him. You will both understand each other better.
Better Behavior – Your dog will be easier to control during vet check-ups, making yours and your vet's lives easier.
Give your dog a hobby – For those rainy days when you can not go for long walks, it's a great way to pass the time. Dogs need hobbies as well as humans!
Below are some points to bear in mind when teaching your dog tricks:
DO keep your training sessions quick; 10-15 minutes at the most. Your dog can get bored and / or tired by hearing the same command over and over again and repeating the same action. The key is little and often – daily if possible.
DO, where at all possible, make sure that your training sessions are done without outside distractions. Turn the TV and radio off and, when you are starting to teach a trick, just have you and your dog in the room.
DO use the same command through your dog's training; do not chop and change. Even a slight difference eg 'turn' and 'turn around' can be very confusing for your dog, so be consistent.
DO give your dog lots of trips and praise when he gets it right. However do not overdo the fears once your dog has learned the trick. Gradually phase out the trees so that you are just using the commands, hand gestures (if appropriate) and praise.
DO NOT try and teach your dog a trick that might interfere with a health problem he has. For example, if your dog has back problems, then a trick such as rolling over might be too difficult. If you have any doubts at all do not do it or check with your vet first.
DO NOT force your dog to do tricks he really does not want to do; respect his limitations. And do not punish your dog for not doing a trick correctly; just keep working on it. Always remember that tricks are for the enjoyment of both of you and it's not a race to finish each trick.
DO NOT talk too much during the training sessions, otherwise your voice will begin to have no effect and it all becomes a confusing babble of noise to your dog. Just try to stick to the command word / s and "good boy" or "good girl".
DO NOT think your dog is too old for tricks. If he's healthy and does not have any mobility problems, he'll be fine. It's often easier to teach an older dog as a new puppy has a lot of other training to take on board such as toilet training and basic obedience training. Wait until he's mastered that before you try to teach him any tricks.