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This training tip is brought to us by Karen Profenna of New City, NY. Karen is a Certified Trick Dog Trainer, and owner of AKC Canine Partner enrollee, Hailey, who is a Trick Dog Champion and AKC Master Agility Champion. Karen tells us tips on teaching tricks and goes into detail on how to teach your dog the sport of skateboarding!

Trick training is a wonderful way to enhance the bond between you and your dog, especially with the inclement weather coming.  Sessions should be kept short and absolutely positive and up-beat.  The more enthusiasm you have the more inclined the dog is going to want to participate.  Rewards can be either food, a favorite toy, a game of tug or merely just your enthusiasm telling the dog what a wonderful job they did: whatever motivation works for your dog.

A few things to keep in mind when teaching your dog tricks:

·         Don’t train right after a meal

·         Keep sessions short

·         Keep sessions positive

·         “Jackpot” the behavior you are looking for

·         Break down tricks in steps: An example would be the steps required to train your dog to tidy up his or her toys. You would need to teach the dog several behaviors before you can have the finished product.  You would need to teach a “hold,” a retrieve, to walk while holding an object and to release the object at a specific location.

A fun trick to teach is skateboarding.

Put the skateboard horizontally between you and the dog.  If you have a dog that does not do agility, you might want to secure the board from moving with either your feet or a towel so the dog doesn’t get scared of the movement.

Stare at the skateboard.  If the dog has any interaction with the board, click or say “yes” and “jackpot” (several small treats dispensed one at a time).  Start the dog in the same position and stare at the board and wait for another interaction with the board.  Any interaction (other than biting the board) is acceptable.  Click or say “yes” and Jackpot again.  Continue this procedure several times.

Once the dog puts one paw on the board consistently using this method, hold back the reward and raise your criteria waiting until the dog puts two paws on the board.  Continue raising your criteria until the dog can successfully put four paws on the board.

When you are ready to remove the towels or your feet from holding the board, you might want to put your hands maybe 6 inches from either end of the board once again reassuring the dog that the movement is nothing to be nervous about.  The ideal place to learn would be on a carpet so the speed of the board would be controlled.  Once your dog has learned to put his feet on the board consistently, you can then “name” the behavior.  To add motion, merely walk alongside the dog and the skateboard and stare at the board.  The dog should eventually “catch on” to the motion portion and use one of their hind legs to push.