Looking for a fun training project for dogs and owners? You might want to try out the “Do More With Your Dog” program created by famous Hollywood trainer and AKC competitor Kyra Sundance.
This goal-oriented program creates a solid foundation of obedience in the format of learning simple tricks that owners keep track of and apply to titles. Many of the behaviors recognized can be found in parallel tests such as the AKC S.T.A.R. puppy program and the AKC Canine Good Citizen program, and there are also more complex behaviors that can even land a canine movie role.
There is no compulsion or aversive training here. The accent is on fun and positive reinforcement to create drive for both the human and canine partner. The behaviors are applicable to many AKC competitive venues including conformation, obedience, agility, and more.
Join a Free Trick Training Class on Facebook
The best part, however, is that owners can access learning videos and be a part of an online community of fellow tricksters for free.
Here’s how it works:
1. Sign up. You choose a trainer from the list of SPARK Facebook teams on the Do More With Your Dog website. There are more than 20 SPARK training teams on Facebook—each in the form of a Facebook group that you can join.
For each group, classes run from the first to the last day of every month, with new classes starting on the first of every month. Throughout the month the leader guides participants through a list of behaviors toward earning a “Trick Dog” title. Several class levels are available: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and Champion.
2. Register class information and register. Download from the Facebook group page the class registration form and the trick checklist, which details a wide variety of possible tricks from which you can choose to earn points toward the particular title you’re working toward.
For example, for the Novice class, the tricks “sit” and “take a bow” each would earn you and your dog one point; “say your prayers” or “play dead” each would earn you two points. It takes 15 points to earn the Novice Trick Dog title.
3. Watch the instructional videos each week. Each week new training videos are posted, giving tips on how to teach various tricks.
4. “Show off” your new tricks to earn points. To get credit for the tricks you and your dog have learned, you can either demonstrate the tricks to a witness and have them sign your checklist, or upload to the Facebook group a video of your dog doing the trick.
5. Submit your completed checklist to receive a title certificate. Once you’ve demonstrated tricks totaling 15 points, submit your completed checklist.
Trick Training Can Benefit Many Dogs
Trick training is a great way for owners to spend quality time with their dogs. And old dogs can learn new tricks— in fact they greatly benefit from doing so.
By reducing the barriers to training, including accessibility and cost, and encouraging creativity and training in all settings, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds worldwide have embraced the Do More With Your Dog program. And it continues to grow and benefit all types of dogs. Senior dogs needing mental stimulation can work with modified skills, and dogs with anxiety thrive and develop confidence as they build a relationship based on trust, praise, and having a good time learning.
Dr. Cindy Otto, executive director and founder of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, was so impressed with the program that she sought certification as a trainer and recently held a workshop for pet owners.
Most recently I have incorporated trick training into not only my classes and private training but with training my own Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, and I have found it to be quite addictive. Once you see what the breed is capable of as mastery reveals amazing feats, it is enticing and a little addictive to venture on and experiment pushing things further.
Here’s to having more fun and embracing the joys and adventures of training!
Learning tricks can be a great plus for therapy dogs. Read about a Champion Trick Dog who makes more than 200 visits a year to nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.
For training advice and behavioral questions, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. Experienced trainers are available seven days a week to answer your questions.