Teaching/Training a pup to do tricks is a great way to teach it to learn. Learning to learn makes a great foundation for a working dog. Working on tricks with your dog will also build a tight bond between the tow of you.
There are many things you can teach a young puppy. There are many things you SHOULD teach a young puppy. The more you teach them, the earlier you teach them, the easier and more they learn.
Below are ideas of what I have been using to train dogs and other animals for over 45 years. Yes, I started training very young....all kidding aside, I really have always trained animals even as a young child. My Aunt Violet had two little dogs that did tricks and boy did they love to see me come for a visit. That started before I even started school.
First and foremost, keep all training safe and fun for your dog. Be fair, don't expect your dog to learn to do complicated tricks (or really any trick) in one or two sections....although there are dogs that do learn that quickly, they are far and many between!!
Don't train your dog if you have had a bad day or if you are also doing other things. Dog training and multitasking just do not mix...unless your other task is something in the oven as you work the dog in the kitchen or while you have laundry in the washer or dryer. Dogs need your FULL attention while you are training. They are not just listening to your words but also watching your every move.
Be consistent. Always use the same words when you train your dog. Another words, do not say "down" one day when you want the dog off the couch and "Off" and other day and just yell "you are muddy, what are you thinking?" the next. If you want your dog off of something use the word "off". "Down" means for the dog to lay down.
Try to stand the same or sit the same of move your body the same as you train the tricks. If when you throw something for your dogs to "Fetch" you exaggerate your arm by moving it all the way out, your dog will learn to watch your arm for the direction of where the item is...later you can use your arm as a guide for something you want the dog to fetch that you have not thrown...like a newspaper.
You will need to have some special treats to teach your dogs tricks. Think of a treat the size of a piece, yes, one piece of cereal. Something that you can put into your pocket or a small belly bag that won't ruin your clothing, nothing greasy.
My husband and I have trained dogs for many years. OUR OWN DOGS. We can not and will not be held responsible for the training you do with your own dogs. We do not know you, or your dog, we can not see your training. These are just ideas that have worked for us with our own dogs over many years.
Dogs DO learn from watching other dogs doing. If you can sign up for a class or get together with friends and work your dogs, this might just give your dog a boost in learning.
The easiest trick to teach a dog is simple for the trainer to learn to teach too. The "Shake Hands" trick. Any dog can learn this.
If you are training more then one dog, or if you own more then two dogs, write down what each dog can do and even what you are training the two. It is easy to forget who does what when you have multiple dogs.
ALL OF THE PHOTOS ON THIS SITE, INCLUDING THIS PAGE, ARE OF OUR OWN DOGS AND ARE ALL COPYRITED.
HERE ARE A FEW TRICKS TO TEACH YOUR DOG
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO SHAKE HANDS
There are about five different ways to teach this to your pup. The way I like to teach it is easy and fast. Have your dog sit down facing you. You can sit in a chair (best idea) or sit on the floor with the dog...you can just lean over too.
Place your hand around your dogs collar. With your opposite hand reach for the dogs paw that is on the opposite side of the dog from the side of the collar you are holding. Now say "Shake Hands" as you gently pull the dog off balance just a bit. The dogs foot will come off the floor and at that point you take hold of that foot, praise the dog and treat the dog. Do this three times in a row several times throughout the day. The second day, repeat the above once. Now ask the dog to "Shake Hands" and wait for the dogs foot to come up, if it does not continue to use the collar as a guidance.
From teaching your dogs to "Shake Hands" you can teach many other tricks such as "High Five", "Wave", "Patty Cake", "Footsies", "Play Piano" and other hands on tricks.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO JUMP THRU A HOOP
This is an easy trick to teach and one of those "big deal" tricks for onlookers. First your dog need to know how to sit or stand and stay. Then you need a Hula Hoop. Wal-Mart has Hula Hoops in the toy dept. for less then $1. At first do not decorate the hoop. Have the dog sit stay and place the hoop in your left hand (dog on your left side) hold a treat in your right hand. The hoop should be about 1" (that's inch) off the ground. Show the dog your treat and tell the dog to "Jump Thru the Hoop". Move your right hand so that the dog has to follow the treat coming all the way thru the hoop before reaching the treat. NOW: You may have to move the hoop, keeping it in front of the dog, if the dog tries to go around the hoop, distract it with the treat and encourage the dog to come forward thru the hoop. The dog will probably only walk rather then jump the hoop. Practice makes perfect. When the dog is all the way thru the hoop, treat and make a huge fuss!! Keep working with the dog with the hoop almost touching the ground, when the dog is jumping thru the hoop, raise it a bit, just a bit. Soon your dog will be jumping the hoop at any height.
WARNING: I first taught this to a German Shepherd Dog and an Alaskan Malamute that we had years ago. I had a four foot chain link fence in the back yard....you know their yard I got the dogs jumping higher and higher, the neighbors would come out to watch and were so amazed. The dogs learned more then just jumping the hoop, it was not long before both of the dogs were.....jumping the fence.
That paper across Tabaliah's chest, in this photo, is the start of putting Newspaper on the Hoop to teach, "Jump Through Covered Hoop".
Adding Glamor: After your dog is Jumping Thru the Hoop well, you can add streamers with ribbon. You can also teach your dog to jump a covered hoop. Start by using old newspaper and covering about 5 inches on each side of the hoop. Add a little more paper everyday you work with the dog, keeping the middle of the hoop open and the paper equal so that the dog always targets the middle of the hoop. Slowly cover all but a small hole in the middle of the hoop with paper. When you preform this trick for an audience, cover the hoop with tissue paper rather then Newspaper. You can also write on the hoop....if this is your last trick of a series write "the end" on the hoop. Other ideas are "Welcome (your dogs name here)".
[subtitle]VIDEO OF HOW TO MAKE A DOG HOOP IN THE SIZE YOU NEED FOR YOUR DOG'S SIZE
Here is a Video of how to make a Hoop in any size. If you watch to the very end you will see our 4 month old Yorkie puppy learning how to Jump Thru a Hoop and learning to Play Piano.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO FETCH THE NEWSPAPER
This is fun. the dog runs out and Fetches your Newspaper off the driveway or out of the yard...the envy of your neighbors on that rainy day!!
First your dog must know "COME". Do not send a dog out to fetch anything in an unfenced yard that is not well trained on obedience...or if you know your dog can be distracted by anything that may go by, be out there, or if your dog is not steady on obedience.
Does your dog "Fetch"? It must learn this first. Your dog will need to know how to fetch anything your throw...anything you ask it too.
Using an old newspaper, fold it up as the paper comes to your home (an if you don't get the paper, just roll it up the way one would come). Tape the paper that is now rolled up at both ends and in the middle. Using duct or better masking tape is best...not too much tape, the training aid paper needs to feel like the real thing.
You start off by training the dog just to fetch it when you throw it. Don't over due this, throw it a few times a day over about three days. The best place to play this game is out where your paper will be thrown by your deliverer.
When you throw the paper say "Get The Newspaper" as you throw it. Extend your arm as you throw the newspaper and hold your arm there until the dog has left your side or until the dog has the paper in focus.
When the dog brings you the newspaper take it from it quickly so that the paper is not torn up and praise the dog and give the dog a treat.
Now....leave the dog in the house and go set your training aid paper approx where the deliverer will throw it. Now go get the dog. Stand about 15' from the paper and tell the dog to "Get The Newspaper" as you point your arm in the direction of the Newspaper. Praise and treat the dog each time it brings your the paper.
Do this a couple of times a day over the next few days.
When the real paper comes be ready....and send your dog. When it brings you the paper, praise and treat and call everyone you know and brag on your dog.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO SHED HUNT
My first dogs were hunters. My dad was a hunter and I grew up with Beagles. They were "rabbit dogs". My dog, a Cocker Spaniel named Frankie, is a hunter too. But he shed hunts. What is shed hunting? Find antlers that animals such as deer, elk, moose have shed for the year.
First of all your dog must be very good on the "Fetch". I tell my dogs "Fetch It Up" each and every time I throw when they are first learning to fetch. That way, later when I send them after something (keys, sheds, newspaper, ext) I use that command before the new command when training. ie When training to fetch up a shed, I say "Fetch it up" then "Get the Shed". Or when first training to "Find My Keys, I say "Fetch it up" so that the dogs know it is fetching and then "Find my Keys" to cue the dog (and impress the audience in a show) to what he is looking for.
You will need a half rack (a full one sided shed). It is better not to touch the antler without gloves or the dog might scent off your hands smell rather then what it is looking for.
You teach the dog just as you would for a newspaper fetch. And plant or place the shed in the woods just as you would a newspaper out front... then take the dog out and set him up to find it. Praise and treat the dog.
This trick is a bit harder to teach, only because you can never predict when or where you will find a shed. So take your dog often and set it up to win, not fail with the shed that you have for training. Soon you will be out on a walk or hunt and low and behold your sweet dog will bring you a large (or small) shed. THAT is a proud moment.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO WEAR CLOTHES AND PROPS
If you handle your dog a lot, if your dog is obedience trained, if you have a bond with your dog, and if your dog trusts you, you will have not trouble at all teaching this trick.
Start with one simple item such as a hat or a coat. Put it on the dog correcting the dog with a soft "No" if the dog fights you putting it on or if the dog bites at the item.
After the item is on the dog, tell the dog to stay. Before releasing the dog from the stay and only about a minute into the clothes on stay, take the items off the dog. Leave the dog in the stay for another few seconds and then release the dog from the stay and praise the dog.
Most dogs that have been taught manners will just let your put the clothes, hat or glasses, harness or other items on it and not think too much of it. Once the dog is OK with the clothes coming on or off take the dog for a short walk (around the house or outside) to let the dog move around in the item, but also distracted from them.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO HOLD ITEMS IN THEIR MOUTHS
The first step of this trick is to teach your dog to fetch. Once the dog fetches it understands carrying items in it's mouth.
There are many ways this trick/task can be taught to a dog. The one we use is much like teaching the dog to "staaaaay", only you use the work "hold", drawing the word out as you hold you hand on the dog's mouth as it holds the item. Say to the dog "hooooooold", remove your hand and say a quick "good!" and treat the dog. As the dog catches on and you no longer need to hold the dog's mouth as you say "hold", then you can start teaching the word or cue, such as "release", the word you will use for the dog to drop the item, you could use "Drop", or "Give".
Take your time on this task/trick. Make sure the dog fully understands what you are teaching. This task is indeed the foundation for so many tasks. For a Hunting Dog, the very foundation of fetching game to bring back to you. For a Trick Dog, the foundation for carrying items within a trick.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO BOWL
This is a really cute trick, and audiences LOVE it!! It is not that hared to teach and can cost next to nothing for the props.
First of all you need a bowling ball. I do not need to tell you that your dog will not use a heavy human bowling ball. Your dog needs a ball like a human soccer ball. These you can find at Garage Sales for less the $1 or maybe even out in your own garage.
You will also need ten "pins". Yes, you can buy child toy sets and they do not cost too much...and boy are they cute. But why not "go green". Surly you know someone or maybe you yourself drinks soda or water from plastic bottles. And a large to giant dog could use two liter bottles.
To keep the "go green" theme you could make a large dog print or paw print or bowling print tote bag that holds the bowling set and ball.
To teach your dog to bowl you need an area large enough for the dog to move around and chase a ball. Out doors or in a large basement would be best. Make sure the area you work in is free from items that could get broke, a ball could get caught under, and not on a hill that the ball could get away from the dog.
If you work with your dog outdoors remember that setting up on concrete is best for the pins to set up on, but easiest for them to scatter. Setting up on grass will be a bit hard to have even pins, but they will not scatter as far.
First you need to teach or train your dog to "get the ball". If your dog fetches, this should not be too hard. At fist you just want to get the dog excited about playing with the ball. Run around with the dog and gently kick the ball as the dog also plays with it.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO PLAY DEAD
This trick is such a crowd pleaser and people just can not get enough of this one!!
Teach your dog to "Down" and to "Down Stay". When the dog is very stable on the "Down Stay" you can move on to the "Play Dead", at our house we call it "Bang".
Using your pointer finger like a gun say to your dog "Bang Down". The dog should go down. Now repeat the "Bang" and lay your dog on it's side. Tell the dog to "stay". Keep your hand near by so that the dog can not roll or get up, keep the dogs head on the floor too. Keep the dog there only for about 30 seconds the first time and expand the time as you practice this trick.
Now when you release the dog from the "Bang Stay" use the word "He/She is Alive!" and say it really jubilantly along with your now release word to the dog.
As you practice this trick drop the word down and use only "Bang". Same with when you release the dog from the "Bang" shorten your cues to just the cute cues for this trick.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO ROLL OVER
This is so cute. You can teach one "Roll Over" or have the dog roll over and over and over, or roll over and roll back the other way. It's a fun little trick that dogs love and spectators just eat up!!
Your dog of course will have to know how to "Down Stay". After that it is easy to teach!
With your dog on a "Down" take it's legs and very gently and slowly roll the dog to it's side, then gently, as you say "Roll Over" roll the dog to it's other side. Praise and treat the dog.
If you practice this often it won't be long before the dog rolls over without your hands helping it.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO CRAWL
If your dog obeys the "Down" command and likes treats, this is a very easy trick to teach.
Put your dog on a "Down", now be ready to gently push it's hips back down if raised, have a treat or toy in your other hand and ready to drag it....Drag the item, toy or treat along the floor or ground (just above it) as you tell the dog to "Crawl".
Most dogs, not all, but most will start to crawl right along. Do not ask the dog to crawl very far, just a few inches, then treat the dog, praise the dog and do something else. Come back to this trick every now and again.
Soon your dog will crawl on command. Don't ask the dog to crawl to far. On carpet or uneven ground the dog could be injured, especially male dogs.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO PUSH AN ITEM
This is a cute and fun little trick. Your dog will need something to push that is stable enough for the dogs weight and tall enough for your dogs height when it is standing.
Your dog should know two commands before you start with the item to be pushed. The first is "Paws Up". "Paws Up" is where you point to an item, chair, your lap, a bar and tell the dog "Paws Up" the dog puts it's front paws gently on what you ask it to. The dog should stay there until being told to "Off".
The dog should also know, or it would be very helpful, to have your dog walk on it's back legs on command before teaching it to push an item so that it learns to walk upright, not to lean on the item.
When your dog has learned the above two commands putting them together is the beginning of this trick.
When you ask the dog to "Paws Up" on the item to be pushed set your foot in front of the item so that it does not roll when the dog puts it's weight on the push bar (handle bars).
From here you work slow. You can take hold of the item and walk it forward with the dog on the command so that the item does not 'come out from under the dog' scaring it. Teach the dog to walk slowly, don't expect the dog to walk very far.
It might be a good idea to use a broom (like a handlebar) to work with your dog so that you can teach them to stand more upright rather then lean on the item they are pushing.
No matter what you have the dog push, make it flashy. Decorate it, put a dressed small dog into it, a teddy bear or something that will add a bit more fun to the trick.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO HONOR OTHER DOGS
Honoring means that one dog sits (or stands or downs) while the other or several other dogs are working, be it hunting, agility, fetching...
If you look at the photo above of my two Cocker Spaniels you will see that they are each honoring one another as the other works on a little trick. This includes that the dog that is honoring waits while the working dog gets treats.
The photo of my German Shepherd Dogs is of them sitting, side by side, wearing hats. This is a lot for them to learn. They have to sit, leave the hat on, and ignore the other dogs near them.
It is best to train dogs individually. Train them alone until they can Sit Stay and or Down Stay for at least three minutes on command. It is also important to train harder tricks with no other dogs around so that they concentrate on what you are saying and showing them. Make no mistake, after the first dog is taught the trick, the others can learn from seeing the first trained or other trained dogs to do the same.
To train honoring start with something simple. Set two dogs in Sit Stays in front of you, call one dog. If the other moves forward, put it back into a Sit Stay and continue with the first dog. Have the first dog do a simple and quick little trick, such as Shake Hands and then a down. Treat only the dog that just did the tricks and put it back into a Sit Stay beside the other dog. Treat them both at this point. Now work the other dog, same thing.
Continue this type of training with the two dogs and add a third, fourth, fifth or more as you go. As the new dog comes in it gets attention between each of the other dogs to start.
Lengthen your training on each of the dogs working as the other honors a little at a time. Always end on a very good note and make a fuss over all the dogs involved.
There will be times that your dog that is to be honoring will just be over taken by the excitement and want to enter the fun before being told to. Quickly and firmly put the dog back into a Sit Stay and continue what you were doing with the working dog before the honoring dog broke the stay.
THE EGG JUMP
This trick is not for the faint hearted, or for those that can not take a joke, or mess.
Have you ever seen the Egg and Spoon class at a horse show? This dog trick can have the audience holding their breath just like those at a horse show...and the egg can be just as messy.
To train for this trick start first with a ball. Later a hard boiled egg and then, yes, then a raw egg. And if you dog eats either the hard boiled or the raw egg, it will not hurt it, but you will not be able to continue training this trick.
You will also need some sort of jump...like a box, or a hoop. The dog will need to know how to jump thru or over the jump item before continuing the training for this trick.
Starting with the ball and praying for a soft mouthed dog, toss the ball over the item you want the dog to jump and tell the to "fetch". Of course you make a big deal when it dose. Now have the dog, with the item still in it's mouth jump back thru or over your item....PRAISE THE DOG. Repeat training just like this for a few days.
After the dog is really doing well at this, set the ball on the far side of your jump item, send the dog over or through the item for the ball...make a BIG FUSS when the retrieve is made and as the dog comes over or through the jump item.
OK, you dog is doing really, really well at this, switch a HARDBOILED egg for the ball and repeat the above....super praise the dog if the shell is not cracked!!
After a few days and when you have items near to clean up any mess that may occur, try the raw egg....as you continue to work on and show off this trick, trade out from time to time hard boiled for the egg.
NOW!! Here is how it is preformed for an audience... Just as above only you take a bowl with you to the show and bread the egg open to show the audience what a wonder dog you have...to add humor, after you break one egg and it is raw, ask the audience if they would like to see the trick again. When they do, use a hard boiled egg. When the dog brings it back break the egg again....as they see it is hardboiled make jokes, like "You did not want to temp the odds did you?" or "This one is my lunch for the ride home." You get the idea. Audiences love this stuff!!
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO GIVE YOU A KISS
Really? You need to read this one? If your dog does not kiss you just because it loves you....maybe you should get a fish...oh and yes, you can train a fish to do tricks (nope not kidding).
Now!! Kissing on command. This too is so easy! If your dog will not kiss your face just when you ask it too by saying, "Give me (or mommy or daddy) a kiss", as you turn your cheek to it, then put the smallest amount of peanut butter on your cheek and show it to the dog. Cut the dog by saying "Give me a kiss" or "Who do you love"...you get the idea.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO PLAY PIANO
This one really impresses spectators...it if fun for the dog, the human and those watching.
It is not hard to teach, the sound let's the dog know they either get their reward cookie or not, but you will need a Piano of one sort or another. SIZE MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO ANIMALS PLAYING PIANOS. We, at our house, have several, many really, Toy Pianos in different sizes. The Piano our GSD play is a Different Size than the little white one our Yorkie plays. I have found each of our Toy Pianos at Thrift Stores....and did not pay much for any of them.
Your dog will already need to know how to "Shake Hands". If your dog knows, "Touch", all the better.
If you use a keyboard, you will either need to hold it or attach it to a chair or table so that it does not move...some dogs, 'bang' the Piano, rather then have a gently 'playing' touch. If the Keyboard is not stable and moves, it will ruin the trick and could scare the dog.
OUR 4 MONTH OLD YORKSHIRE TERRIER LEARNING TO PLAY PIANO! I of course, think she is the cutest little thing!
Katy is learning more and more tricks. We hope to be uploading more Videos of her very soon.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO SIT UP
This Trick can only be taught after your dog already knows "Sit", and will sit still when you give the command. This is a fairly easy trick to teach.
With a small treat in your hand, tell your dog to "Sit". When the dog sits, take the treat and hold it right over the dog's head and just out of reach of the treat. Lift the treat upward as you tell the dog the command you will use, such as "Sit Up". As SOON as even one front foot comes off he ground say "Good!", and give the dog the treat. This trick will take a little time to teach. If your dog is not understanding to follow the treat upward, take your other hand, the one not holding the treat, and pick up the dog's front foot, one to start, and move it upward, as you say, in a drawn out way, "Siiiiit Uuuuup". Again, treat the dog as soon as you start moving the dog upward.
As you progress with this trick, have the dog come upward more and more before giving the treat. Always make a big fuss for little progress from the dog. Dog's are smart and are looking for your approval and that treat, so hang in there with little progresses.
Dog's with long backs should be helped to balance as you teach this Trick. It might (or might not) take a dog with a longer back a little longer to learn to balance on this Trick.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO TOUCH YOUR FOOT OR OTHER ITEMS
Recently ( 8-08 ) on the TV show Greatest American Dog a few of the contestants had their dogs touch their feet, one foot at a time, in a dance routine. Someone asked how to train this.
There are a couple ways to teach your dog to touch your feet on command. To me the easiest is like teaching your dog to High Five from the Shake Hands. If your dog "Shakes Hands" stand in front of your dog and tell it to "Shake Hands, Touch It". If you use the word touch 'it' rather then 'foot' you can then take that command further and have the dog touch other things without looking weird saying "Touch Foot". Yes, you could also just say "touch". Anyway, as you say "Shake Hands, Touch It" put your foot in the dogs paw path, between your hand and the dogs paw, you might want to point to the foot as you tell the dog. When the dog touches your foot, reward with praise and perhaps a treat. Repeat saying both commands for a few times, then just give the "Touch It" command and put your foot in front of the dog. After your dog is sound on this trick take a ball or book or other item and hold it in your hand, tell the dog to "Touch It" as you point to the item then put the item out so that it is obvious what you want the dog to do. Soon you will be able to tell the dog to touch about anything and it will respond. It is really quite a simple trick to teach.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO SPEAK
Dogs pretty much teach themselves this trick, but it needs to be done on command and on command only.....well, unless someone is breaking into your home <grin>.
To teach your dog to bark on command you have to get excited. I mean get excited, for some dogs this means jumping around, gleefully barking (that means you barking like a dog) and shaking either treats or toys or both for the dog to want that you have.
Have the treat ready so that as soon as the dog barks or really with some dogs makes any kind of noise, you praise and treat the dog straight away.
Ready? Call your dog over and basically "tease" it with a treat and or squeaking toy. Shake it around, take in a high voice and yes, BARK. Tell the dog "Speak" and then bark. If the dog makes any vocal noise, treat and do it all over again..soon all you will have to say is "Speak" and your dog will bark at you.
TEACHING ANY PET TO OPEN A GIFT
You can teach your pet, any pet, to open a gift in a few easy steps.... Start with a small box. A mouse will need a smaller box then a GP and a GP will need a smaller box then a dog. Use a box that does not have a lid about the same size as your pets food bowl. Set a treat in the box next to their food dish when feeding. When they take the treat out of the box, say "gooooood" and remove the box. Repeat twice a day for a few days. In a few days, after the animal has caught on to retrieving the treat from the box, wrap the box, but not the top, with colorful paper. Repeat the idea of leaving this with a treat in it for your pet....most will not even notice the box has changed, or if it did notice it did not care. Now. Take a piece of newspaper, or tissue paper and wrap it around just the edges of the top of the box. Give a treat in this box, same as before, to the pet. Then next day make the opening a bit smaller, ie, rewrap the top of the box but extend the edges closer to the middle of the box. Give this to your pet as before. Then next day, make the middle smaller and so on. Finally, close the top with paper and watch the animal "open their gift.".
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO LIMBO
To teach your dog to Limbo your dog will need to know how to "Sit", "Crawl", "Stay" and be able to "Go Around" or you can use the term "To Go" or "To Start".
For a limbo poll you can buy a child's size limbo set or will need to build a set. To do so you will need PVC piping and the cups for the end pieces of PVC. The cups will be cut in half and become your holders for the Limbo Poll. For the stand of your set use 2" PVC piping, for the poll use a PVC 1" conduit pipe cut to about 3' or so depending on the size of your dog.
FOR MORE TRICKS, PHOTOS OF OUR DOGS DOING TRICKS, IDEAS AND MORE, ALSO CHECK OUT OUR TRICK PAGE ON OUR WORKING GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG WEBSITE, CHECK THE NAVIGATION LIST TO THE RIGHT OF THIS PAGE.
TRAINING YOUR SECOND DOG
Some people think that their first trick dogs are the smartest dogs in the world...cause their second , third and dogs after never live up to what that first one could do.
The problem with training a second dog. Sometimes we forget that the second dog does not have all of the foundation that the first dog does, or in fact the same foundation. We spent much time with the one dog, it learned so much more from being the only focus, and spending all the time with us, having our undivided attention. The first dog is trained and trained and trained....the second dog does not have the same household as the first dog did. When the second dog came in, it had another dog in the house hold....one that was trained. While a second dog can learn a lot from the first dog without a doubt...it also misses a lot of the cues that were not given with the same patience as the first dog received. Every body fussed over the first dog, by the second dog, yeah, it's cute, wonderful and amazing, but we have seen it before. Therefore the first dog, much like a first child, is credited with being the STAR. Learned more, learned quicker, better in school, gonna change the world...."everyone says so". When in reality, the second dog may be as smart, or in fact smarter.
The second dog was never "the only" dog. Even when we take that second dog out by itself to learn, when it gets home, it is still second. So usually, like a second child, the second dog is trained, but will never live up to the first dog, and that is unfair because it will never have the undivided attention that the first dog received. The second missed all that "oh look at this", "Oh you are just the smartest dog in the world", "wait til Grandma sees this" and all the other things we believe about that first or only dog. The other problem is that the second dog is usually not trained as thoroughly as the first. We forget all the little teeny itty bitty steps we used to train the first dog....maybe we went to class with the first, maybe we read that book more often... And the fact that the second dog is not worked as often not only because we are working the first dog too, but also because our friends and family have seen the first one do it all and weren't really interested to watch the first, not alone the second. <grin>
Another problem when training the second dog is to focus on the second dog....not let the first dog come over and "steel the show", taking over the attention of the second dog and getting credit and treats when it was the second dog that was asked to do the trick or task in the first place.
On the other hand......dogs down the road from the first can be better trained because we now have the experience, we have learned to teach, we know the best short cuts, small cues, ect.
Someone that continues to train their dogs throughout the dogs life will continue to have dogs that are better and better then the first dog they trained. Someone that just trains the first dog to do a few things, then teaches the next to do a few things, then the next is always gonna have dogs that are about equal and mediocre.
Some dogs are superstars. I had a dog that could read my mind....literally and well. She had a list of titles, was my lead dog on my sled dog team and did 29 tricks well. She learned a trick the first time it was taught and remembered it for a lifetime. If I was going down the sled dog trail and gave the wrong command....she knew what I really wanted. Truly an amazing dog. She was not my first or second or third, or my 15th and was she one of six I trained daily. She was a "sports" dog; frisbie, sled dog, weight pulling, tricks, water work, but most of all my best friend!!
You will also find that owning and training different dogs, that they may enjoy different things....while my labs (years ago) were the same breed in the same house, Hannah was more of a watch dog, Mary excelled in anything asked, Martha was a fetching fool, Meshach could swim for days and not tire, Music would run like the wind and even when I brought her home as a FAT adult loved to run on my sled dog team and always wanted more miles and never seemed to be too tired to get up and run again.....so I built on these strengths each dog had when training tricks and tasks.
So be fair to your dogs and train well. Do not compare, it is not fair. They may have the same trainer, but not the same life as the other dog...and daily living does make a difference in how a dog learns.
A Trick Prop can be a stick from a tree or a fancy wooden human child's piano with a bench.
Many tricks need props, others do not. Props do add zazzle to your tricks for audiences to see. Props can make a very easy trick look like your dog is a wonder dog. It is all in the presentation.
You of course can run out and buy all types of trick props new and spend all kinds of big money on them....or you can get them for next to nothing from Thrift Stores, Garage Sales and in your own basement.
Anyone that owns a dog knows that a stick can be many things. It can be a toy, a great fetching devise, on land or in water. A stick can be jumped over or run under or a few stuck into the ground for weave polls and on and on.
But face it, the stick as close to nature and as "green" (new "catch word") as it can be, is not the prettiest or the most eye catching trick prop.
So each time you go to a Garage Sale or to the Thrift Store or in a Dept Store Toy Dept. keep your eyes open for not only items you can use to train your dog, but if you have other animals you are training, (cats, rats, goats, hamsters) look for items for them to use too.
Dogs come in many sizes and so do keyboards and other props. Don't buy a St. Bernard sized toy keyboard for a Pappion. You can buy Hula Hoops that are made for humans to use for your for your dogs to jump thru, but it might fancy the trick up a bit if you cut that same hula hoop down to a smaller size for a smaller dog.
Some ideas of items to look for.....
A Hula Hoop for your dog to Jump Thru A Toy Piano for your dog to learn to play an old belly bag to place treats in for the dog to work for cute sunglasses for the dog to learn to wear human toddler size slides for the dog to learn to got down of course always look for squeaky toys (look by the baby clothes for these) a ball for your dog to learn to play soccer with Child's plastic bowling pins with balls a toddlers size basket ball court for the dog to learn to put the ball through stuffed animals for your dog to learn to place in a toy box a toy box you might find dog training books, nice collars, leashes, crates, kennels...you just never know what the next Garage Sale might have...happy shopping.
GETTING A GIG FOR YOUR DOG
Your dog is trained to do several tricks, it is doing them very well, now what.
The trick is to get your dog noticed, and you can do this right in your own neighborhood.
Visit your local churches and ask if you can preform (for free) at the Vacation Bible School or any other events they may have coming up. Stop by the local Elementary School and ask at the office if you can do a trick show for the kids. Tell them that your dog is trained and ready to go, but you need an audience. Do you have a child or niece or nephew that has a birthday coming up? Look up the local Scout Masters/Leaders also the Boys and Girls club and offer your services there too. You may be offering your services free, but you are getting your name out there.
If there are events coming up in your town or the next town over see if they need a preforming dog. Enter into parades and have your dog dressed cute, stop every so often and do a few easy tricks. Does your local news cast interview small business owners in your area, or have a spot where they talk about animals? Try to get in with your dog and be sure to take a few business cards with you. Many TV News casts will give out website addresses or offer to link to it (all the better).
Having a MySpace page for your dog as well as a website page with lots of photos of the dog preforming is one way to get your dogs noticed. Many people have been noticed on YouTube with videos of their animals performing. Join elists and groups for trick dogs on the Internet. Also if you do demos for schools and churches and scouts invite the Media to come also and giving them your website address.
I used to be big into sled dogs in St. Louis, MO I was on the front cover of the Post Dispatch, several other times (same paper) a story was done on my dogs and I. I was in the paper both Post Dispatch and Journal many times with a mention, I on the 6pm news several times, featured (John Pertzborn interviewed me) during the Christmas parade.......there is a lot you can do. I had a six dog trick troupe that was also mentioned. That was all before the Internet. But I was out there training daily, right in my neighborhood and got noticed. Once you are noticed....
If you dog does well, and you have made a good impression you will be surprised at the calls you might get for more "gigs". You might want to print some business cards with your website address and email on it.
The bottom line is get out there and offer your services. Offer your trick show and throw in dog care information. Show up early and stay as long as they have questions.
GETTING READY FOR A TRICK SHOW
You need to have a theme or program for your show. It sill make one trick flow into the next as well as make your show more fun and polished for those watching. Write ideas down in a small notebook with a pencil so that you can change them and rewrite them....why not the computer, you can not have it in your hand as you work your dog.
Practice, practice, practice and practice more in front of family and friends.
The big day has arrived. You have trained your dog and the word got out. Now a friend of yours has asked you to preform at her child's Birthday Party. What fun!!
Be sure to have a check list. Yes, write it all down. The props you want to take (including a dog leash). Load the night before and check and double check your list. You may also what to have your tricks written down on a few cue/note cards too. You might get nervous and need to check to make sure you are following the ideas you had in your head. I keep this information in the same little notebook I have my ideas and program written in.
Make sure you and your dog look your best. Wear nice clothing and make sure your dog is groomed. Your props should all be clean too.
Get there early. This will give you time to set up your props and be in "position" when the audience arrives.
Even if your dog LOVES children it is not a good idea to let an audience pet your dog. With adults it might be OK, but a classroom or party (sugar filled children) many things can go wrong. It is better just to preform, ask if the kids have any questions and then put the dog in the car while you finish loading your props.
After the show make the biggest fuss over your dog. You might stop and buy your dog a burger (drive thru of course) and sit and eat together. I used to take my dogs to the local Ice Cream Store, they had a walk up window and picnic tables. They LOVED to see my dogs come!! So did the other customers.
When you get home settle your dog. Your dog may be very tired, it had a big day.
Unload your props and start thinking of what new tricks your can teach your dog and you might contact the local Churches and Schools and offer your services with a FREE show to get your name out there.....you never know!!