Dog Trick Training is Not What You Think

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I want to teach you a little bit about dog trick training. No, I don’t want to teach you how to train your dog to speak, beg, shake, or roll over. I want to teach you how to use tricks when you train your dog. I call it canine entrapment, and no, it is not as mean as it sounds.

Allow me to explain. Typically when you train a dog you spend time in distraction free zones communicating certain commands to your dog such as ‘sit’, ‘lie-down’, ‘stay’ etc. You usually want to start in distraction free areas so that you can focus all of your energy on training the dog and not worrying about what is going on around you.

This approach is good, but it will only get you part way. How to teach dog to roll over You need trick training or canine entrapment to get you the rest of the way.

What trick training involves is putting your dog in various, distraction-full situations where it is difficult for him to obey, and show him that he still must obey. Let me give you a couple examples.

I have recently been working with a dog on his ‘down-stay’ behavior. Essentially what I want is for him to lie down and stay there. He does really well, except he recently learned something about me. I often train this exercise while I am working in my office. It is easy for me to send emails and write articles all while the dog lies down on the other side of the room and stays. Basically I am killing two birds with one stone; I train the dog while I take care of business. While I am in my office, however, I often talk on the phone. This dog quickly learned that whenever I am on the phone that I am too distracted to pay attention to him. He has learned that as soon as I start talking that he is free to get up from his ‘down-stay’ and roam the room. This is where trick training came in. As soon as I realized what he was doing I changed how I trained him and decided to start tricking him. What I would do was pick up the phone at random intervals and pretend to start talking. As I would talk he would get up except on these occasions I wasn’t too distracted to address his disobedience. I could immediately grab his leash, administer a correction, and get him to lie down and stay again. Problem solved.

I often deal with dogs that have issues with cats and refuse to be obedient around them. The first thing I do is teach the dog to be obedient while the cats aren’t around. Then I start tricking the dog. I bring the cats into the room and allow the dogs to see them and get interested. Then I apply the exact same principles that I used to train the dog from the beginning. Initially the dogs resist and want to get to the cats. With patience, work, and consistency it is a short time before the dog realizes it does not matter if the cat is there, obedience is still necessary.

Is tricking your dog mean? No. It is merely a way to show your dog that he needs to be obedient regardless of the circumstances. Good luck and good training.

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