In the past, I always only taught my dog basic commands figuring that's all they really needed. I wanted my dog to remain a dog and not to turn into a circus monkey.
It wasn't until we got Cookie when I started teaching her tricks just to keep her occupied and entertained.
She needed a lot of exercise, play, physical and mental stimulation. I've also learned by then how doing such things can strengthen our bond. So we started messing around with all kinds of things. Little bit of this, little bit of that, just for sake of doing things together. We both really enjoy it. It's fun. It gives Cookie things to do and keeps her brain working.
Such things particularly come handy when she is on restricted exercise, such as now, recovering from her iliopsoas injury.
Or when it got so cold outside that even Cookie couldn't be out there for longer than ten minutes at a time. We use food toys and puzzle games as well but there is nothing like an actual interaction.
We've done some moves from heelwork to music, some moves from agility, some nose work tricks and some tricks just for the sake of tricks.
When we started, little I realized the practical advantages to teaching tricks.
When Cookie was prescribed home physical therapy exercises, we just included them as some of the tricks. And exercises were just all fun and games as everything else we've been doing.
Since we found out that Cookie's left knee isn't happy, one of the first things we've done was ordering a ramp so she wouldn't have to jump in and out of the truck.
Of course, to use it safely, a dog needs to be taught to accept the idea and use it properly. It is a new object and a new concept after all. Teaching tricks builds confidence and can help socialize a dog to new objects and situations.
As we took the ramp from the package, Cookie was curious. We laid it down flat on the ground first, so she'd get use to the idea of walking on it. The non-slip surface is quite rough; feels like sand paper. Cookie was interested in investigating it but not so much in walking on it. I imagine it felt strange under her toes at least.
We taught her to walk on it as a new trick.
Once she realized it was a new trick we were doing, she took to it quite quickly. At first we had to put it against a wall and block the other side because she'd get on it and head right off. I can see why she wouldn't like the way it felt on her toes. But it was a new trick, wasn't it?
After a few repetitions we could put it back in the middle of the room where she could get off it if she wanted to. And she was walking across the full length very nicely.
Once we figured she got the idea that walking all the way across was what earns the reward, and given how comfortable she was with it, we took it outside and put it on the truck.
She only needed couple times of getting in and out.
We didn't need to do many repetitions at all. She got the idea. Other than having reservations about the surface, she was comfortable and happy with the whole process. I think she'll appreciate using it, as she had been hesitant to jump out of the truck unless there was a strong incentive. This way she doesn't have to.
Teaching tricks is one of the best things you can do for your dog and yourself.
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat
Observation Skills Of Dogs
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone?
Dog Training And Emotions
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy?
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT)
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See"
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers
Distance Is a Relative Concept
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?
The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits?
I am a Helicopter Dog Mom
Routines: Easy Come, Hard to Go
Things Always Change: Cookie's Hunting Adventures
The Advantage of Your Dog Not Barking All the Time: Cookie Saves Horses' Asses
"Look at That" (LAT) Game and Barking at Traffic
The Role of Thresholds in Dog Training and Behavior
Dog Days of Summer: Keeping an Eye on Cookie
Dog Days of Summer: Cookie Gets Her SprinklerThe Evolution of My View on What Is and Isn't Dirty
Not F***ing Cheerios, That's for Sure
Hi, My Name Is "No", What's Yours?
Dogs, Porcupines, Wasps and Learning
Mouse Hunting, Leash Pulling, Begging at the Table and Intermittent Reinforcement
Self-Entertaining Dog? Dogs Need Interaction
Dogs Are Always Testing the Waters
Tick Alert: It's a Conversation if You're Listening
How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dog in One Easy Step
Do Dogs Like to Work for Their Meal?
Shaping Games: Both Cookie and I Love them
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies
The Power of the Play Bow