Tricks Are More Than Fun For Agility Dogs

Trick training for agility dogsWe have talked about tricks before and the great way it can be used to not only have fun with your dog, but to bond and build body awareness as well.  In fact, body awareness tricks are so popular today that many handlers will not even consider putting their dogs on ANY equipment until the dog has mastered the body awareness exercises.  From balance boards and balls to pivoting on a stack of books, your training is only limited by your creativity.  But some tricks are just plain tricks or are they?

We knew a German Shepherd Dog by the name of Kasimar Camillo that started in dog agility to build his confidence around people, dogs and the great big world.  He was not properly socialized by the breeder and his owners got him at five months of age, not understanding the problems that can occur when a GSD is not socialized as a puppy and is left to grow up in a kennel.  He was very friendly to them when they went to see him, but he soon showed a discomfort of being around strangers and strange dogs.

The owners tried obedience with him by hiring a mobile trainer.  They came a long way with him but found that they needed to get him into classes with other dogs and people to keep him growing.  One of their instructors introduced them to dog agility and that was what they decided to pursue because KC would get such joy out of running the obstacles.  They found another facility that specialized in agility, contacted them and learned they must take one of their basic obedience classes first.

It was during that class that they started using more tricks to help build his confidence as well as keep his attention during stressful times in class.  One of the “tricks” they taught him was to “say hi” to a stranger.  Because he was so leery of strangers they did not have the problem of him jumping up or being rude, they had the problem of him adverting his gaze and turning away.

The instructor just wanted KC to sniff the strangers hand, to make an effort into the introduction, but KC would give them a “kiss” as well.  So they taught him to “kiss” the back of a strangers hand when asked to “say hi.”  Of course, the stranger was always told this was his hello and not to ask for more.  This trick stayed with KC and was always his way of greeting people.  They would come up to him, his owners would tell the person to extend their hand, his owners would ask KC to “say hi” and KC would give the stranger a kiss.  He no longer showed aversion to meeting strangers and waited for his cue to say hi.  This did not make him a social butterfly, but gave him the confidence to at least accept strangers in a healthy way.

This is only one small example of how “tricks” can be useful in all areas of your dog’s training and how they can help boost your dog’s confidence knowing they can perform a maneuver for your praise, lovin’ for doing something they rather not.  So don’t over look the value of trick training in whatever you do with your dog.  At the very least you can entertain guests with your dog’s brilliance and at the best you can help your dog reach their full potential.

We would love to hear your stories of how trick training has helped you and your dog in any way.  Just scroll down to the comments area and share your story.