Tricks for Treats – Introduction

Welcome to the CANINE Pawsibilities family and thank you for enrolling in the Tricks for TreatsBeginner’s School.

In many languages and cultures there is a proverb that says:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Do not fall into the trap of believing this! If the correct stimuli and motivation is provided, dogs of any age or breed can be taught to perform tricks! Older dogs may take a while longer to master a new trick than a younger dog, or the trick may need to be adapted to the physical ability of the senior dog, but the experience for both the dog and handler is just as rewarding. In fact, teaching tricks to an older dog can provide important mental stimulation as they become less physically active.

As with any type of training, developing your foundations are key. The Tricks for Treats school will introduce all the necessary building blocks for you and your dog to be able to progress on to achieve complex and jaw dropping tricks.

During the 12-weeks of this school, all weeks are not the equal. In some weeks we will introduce the steps for a complete trick and others we introduce the building blocks to a more complex trick that we will work towards in future weeks.

Although the topics in this course are delivered over a 12-week period, do not panic! You will have access to the course a full year so you can progress at your own pace and revisit any of the topics.

There is a lot of information to take in from the videos and discussions. As such there is a good chance that you may find it takes you longer than a single week to work on and master the trick or behaviours that have been introduced. Take your time to build solid foundations. Do not rush or skip the stages, do not feel pressurised because the course content is delivered over 12 weeks.

If you think your dog already knows all the games or tricks covered in one of the weeks, try to improve on the game or trick to make it even better. You could even share the improvements you have made via the Facebook group! Make sure your dog fully understands what you are asking it to do.

If you or your dog struggle with some aspect presented during a week, do not give up or get disheartened. This is totally normal. It is more than likely that your dog will understand and be able to perform some of the tricks very quickly, whilst it may will struggle with others. If this happens, do not get frustrated; Enjoy the journey!

There are different reasons why you may find progress more slowly or struggle with some of the tricks:

  • Some of the tricks are simply harder than others
  • Some dogs will find certain behaviours more natural to perform than others; this can be dog and breed dependent.

Over the 12 weeks of the Tricks for Treats school, we will be working on over 25 tricks with you which can be divided in 6 groups:

  • Nose targeting
  • Mouth targeting
  • Chin targeting
  • Foreleg targeting
  • Hind leg targeting
  • Body awareness

All the games and tricks you will be learning during this school are keys to teaching your dog all the building blocks to perform any complex trick in the future.

Each week of the School can be considered as introducing a new trick. However, certain tricks are too complex to be introduced fully within one week, so they have been split over multiple weeks to give you time to build the foundation steps. Some will also require your dog to learn to chain together a series the previously learned tricks to produce a more complicated trick

On it – Introduction

The first of your Front Paw Targeting Tricks is going to be the ‘On it’.

I call this trick ‘On It’ as you are going to work to teach your dog to place both of its front feet on a target object. In addition to a front paw targeting trick, it is also a very good body awareness trick for dogs.

In the next video we briefly discuss the type of equipment you could use as the target object.

To summarise:

  • You do not need any expensive equipment to work this trick.
  • For safety reason, you need and object that has a non-slip surface, so your dog does not slip off the object and the object does not move
  • To start with, the object should be stable and preferably flat
  • The top of the object does not need to be high off the ground

Introduction to Tracking

All dogs have a far more acute sense of smell than humans and can not only pick-up tiny traces of a scent but also distinguish between varied scent sources. If you search the internet you will find estimates that dogs have a better sense of smell than Humans in the order of 10,000-100,000 times. Another way of putting this is that they can detect odours of 1 part per Trillion!

At some point in time, you may well have watched a movie or television programme where a dog is tracking the path taken by someone, for example a person missing in the wilderness. In this scenario the dog is out in front of its handler on a long lead with its nose to the floor, following the scent trail left by the person. This is what we call tracking.

When tracking, the dog follows the scent path by using its nose to detect the odour left by each footstep of the person who made the track. This is opposite to man trailing where the dog is scenting the air flow.  This means the dog will follow the track with its nose down, repeatedly sniffing the ground, in contrast to trying get an air scent with its head up, sniffing in the wind.

In this module you are going to teach your dog to follow a human track that is laid out by one specific person, the track layer. It is an enjoyable activity for both for you and your dog where you are going to be encouraging and helping to refine your dog’s natural ability to track.

I hope you will enjoy the journey!