Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks

I used to think very little about teaching my dogs tricks. I figured I didn't need my dogs do these things. Teach them what they need to know and that's it. What are tricks good for? Showing off at parties?

Little I realized how much we've been missing.

I also didn't realize that to a dog, learning any behavior is really a trick and it is best taught that way. Do you think that a dog knows the difference between a sit being a serious business and sit pretty being a party trick? They might notice the difference in your attitude, though.

Based on your attitude, which one do you think they enjoy learning more?

So I concluded that from now on, any behavior I want, I'll teach it as a trick. It is so much more fun for both parties that way.

But there is more.

By learning tricks, dogs learn learning.

I notice with Cookie how much faster she picks up every new thing we're working on now. She is also more likely to offer different things to see which one will get her a reward. First she'll try the things she already knows, then she might throw in something new. When she gets really excited, she will try everything at once, which is pretty funny.

Learning tricks exercises the brain

When presented with a challenge, I can clearly see Cookie thinking. It is so precious to watch. She might come over to me and sit - nothing happens. She offers a paw - nothing happens. Then she remembers "Oh, I'm supposed to go put the paw on the target thingy."

It's a bonding time and teaches her that paying attention to me means good things.

Our training sessions are high quality time for both of us. We go for walks and play games, but this to Cookie is a type of game too and she loves it.

And she has a lot of fun with it.

It is clear from her excitement. And no matter how tired may be after a day at the farm, she still looks forward to her training games with mommy. She won't pass on it. It became a part of our daily routine.

Related articles:
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 


  1. I love teaching our dogs new things; what I love more is expanding on something that they figured out for themselves. I get such a kick out of how big their vocabulary is :)

    1. It's inspiring, isn't it? We have a blast with these things too. Though sometimes I'd rather take a day off (when I don't feel good or I'm too tired) but Cookie won't let me :-)

  2. What an excellent perspective. Both parties can benefit more from training with just an attitude change. Teaching can be fun :)


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