Friday Fun: My Favorite Trick Book!

Now that we’re getting into the holiday season, and everyone’s thoughts start turning toward Christmas gifts, I thought I’d do some Friday Fun posts about some of my favorite things that you might want to add to your own Christmas list for your pooch!  In offering this review, I am not being compensated in any way for sharing my opinion.  I purchased both of these books, and the author or publisher has no knowledge of any of the content in this review.  The opinions expressed are purely my own.

And the first of my favorite things that I want to start with, is a really great trick book called “101 Dog Tricks,” by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy.  I’ve used this book for several years, and found that it’s been very helpful and accurate in teaching tricks.  She breaks down the various tricks into categories, like “Time for Chores.”  The tricks under that category include: “Fetch my slippers,” “Get your leash,” “Walk the dog,” “Newspaper delivery,” etc.  You can train all within a specific category, or jump around to teach specific tricks that you like.

The trick descriptions are easy to follow, and there are wonderful photos that also help you understand how to teach a specific trick.  For anyone who is a novice in teaching tricks, there is plenty enough information to help you from start to finish in working though the process.  Even if you don’t have much training experience, I think you can follow her instructions and have good success.

She ranks each trick from easy to intermediate to hard, and lists any prerequisites that your dog needs to know before you can train the one you’d like.  That way, you can start with some of the easier tricks and already have the prerequisites learned for some of the harder ones you’d like to try.  Typically, I work on one trick at a time in a given training session, but I’m always working on several at a time to keep Rugby from being bored.

The author even includes some “Trouble-Shooting” helps and some “Tips” that are pretty accurate for the most part.  And, each trick finishes with “What to Expect,” which will give you a realistic timeline for how long you can reasonably expect your dog to really understand and perform the trick.  Keep in mind that this timeline really does depend upon your individual dog, because some learn quicker than others.  Don’t get hung up on how long it should take; focus instead on having fun with your dog, and then you’ll have a great time with it!

She also has a puppy version called “51 Puppy Tricks,” but honestly, the first book covers it all well enough, if you’re only interested in teaching tricks.  Even if you have a puppy, you don’t need to have the puppy version to have success in trick training.  However, she does offer some really great ideas about getting your puppy off to a great start with training in general, by introducing positive reinforcement, and by making some of the basic commands into games your puppy will really enjoy.  Once your puppy learns the game, she provides some great ideas to transition into a command vs. game, so that your puppy will respond in that context.

For folks who might be interested in training agility sometime, she offers beginning steps on things like jumping, going through a tunnel, and walking on a teeter board.  Even if you’re not interested in agility, these are skills that can help socialize a puppy to make them less fearful in general.

Some of the tricks are repeated in both books, but there are a few that are unique to each individual book.  I don’t know that I change my training style for a puppy versus an adult dog, but I do refer to both books for puppy and adult both.  I’m glad to have both on my bookshelf, and I don’t think you can go wrong by getting both.  The format in both books is the same.

What’s the value in teaching tricks?  So many people I meet have no interest in tricks, and think of them as circus acts for their dogs.  I’ll admit that when I had show dogs, I felt exactly the same way about it.  I was not interested in training tricks at all.  I’ve often wondered how much my sweet Corgis would have enjoyed learning them!

When Rugby was a puppy, teaching tricks saved my sanity at home.  No kidding.  He was so high energy, that it was really hard to wear him out.  I started training tricks as a means to offer something positive for him to do at night, after dark, when I couldn’t get him outside or on rainy or really cold days.  What a huge difference this has made for Rugby!

I can honestly say that teaching tricks was the real first start to helping him learn to trust me.  Tricks are simply fun.  They provide a more relaxed and fun interaction with a dog, rather than something that hangs his life on the line, like basic commands.  When I’m training commands like Sit, Down, Stay, Come, etc., I know that someday, if my dog ever escapes the house or I have equipment failure like a leash coming off his harness, those simple words can save Rugby’s life.  However if he doesn’t “Roll Over” when asked….who really cares?

Tricks have been a really, really wonderful way to build a bond with Rugby, and wear him out all at the same time.  I highly recommend them, and it really doesn’t matter the size of the dog.  Obviously, some tricks will be more suitable for some dogs than others, but I’ve even very large dogs enjoy learning some tricks, so don’t let size or breed deter you from giving it a try!  I find that almost all dogs enjoy the challenges of learning something new.

The brain power used in figuring out what behavior is desired will help wear out your dogs, which I honestly think makes them much more content at home.  A good balance of physical exercise and mental challenges through tricks and games will provide a great home environment for dogs who need to have a smaller world.  So get busy and start training some tricks!



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