Have some fun with your dog!

My experience with dog tricks – Edel Halpin DDR volunteer

Trick training does more than teach cute party tricks to entertain your friends. It offers a way to bond with your dog. It also provides mental stimulation for your pet which will help tire her out! (great if it’s a wet day or late and you can’t get out for a walk).

Any dog can learn tricks, and I have found that the more tricks your dog knows the quicker she’ll pick up new ones.

Teaching a trick comprises of 3 parts, the first is the verbal/physical cue to your dog, the second is the action performed by your dog and third is the reward (which needs to be immediate – timing here is crucial).

Seemingly the most common reason why people fail teaching dog tricks is their lack of patience. Progress can be slow and frustrating at times, so it’s important to not to lose your cool and be consistent with your training method.

I set out one month for learning a new trick, practicing the trick every day for that month. Then I move onto a new trick the following month and throw in the first trick every now and then. Sometimes my dog Missie can pick up a trick within a matter of days sometimes it takes a lot longer. Keeping your training sessions short (no more than 10mins at the start) and always ending on a high note are important things to remember. Use tasty treats as rewards (I use little pieces of cheese/ham/chicken), always train before dinner and finish up with some playtime. It’s important to make training fun, so use your “happy voice”, and be someone who’s fun to be around! (this can be  a real challenge sometimes after a tough day at work! )

Trick : Speak – teach your dog to bark on cue.

This was the 4th trick I taught Missie and it only took 1 or 2 sessions for her to get the hang of it.

  1. Observe what causes your dog to bark – e.g. the doorbell, and use this stimulus to teach this trick. The doorbell worked for me so I’ll use it here, stand at the door, give the cue “speak” and press the doorbell. When your dog barks, immediately reward him. Repeat 6 times
  2. Continuing in the same session give the cue but don’t ring the bell. You may have to cue several times before you get a bark. If you don’t get a bark return to the previous step.

If you can’t find a stimulus to make him bark, tease him with a treat/toy – dogs often bark out of frustration.

Recommended Reading: “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance and Clancy