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Tanya Lee

Everyone loves to watch a good dog trick. But did you know dogs can earn titles for showing off fun tricks? They can even enter and win competitions. At the highest level of AKC Trick Dog — AKC Trick Dog Elite Performer — dogs and handlers are required to perform a routine of tricks strung together into a story or script using at least five props.

In 2019, the AKC launched its inaugural AKC National Trick Dog Competition, inviting Elite Performer Trick Dog Title owners from across the country to send in videos of their dog doing tricks.

Fifty competitors from 20 states (plus Canada) submitted their performances — a minimum of 10 tricks, a maximum of six minutes. While props were not required, they were encouraged. Each dog/handler team competed for a cash prize of $500 and a commemorate plaque award.

After watching all 50 dogs perform, the judges chose one winner and two semi-finalists of the 2019 AKC National Trick Dog Competition.

The Joy of AKC Trick Dog

This year’s competition winner was Gryff, a Golden Retriever owned by Tracy Dulock. Performing to an auditorium full of children, their routine was called “Surfin’ USA.”

“Tracy and Gryff’s performance was a joy to watch,” Mary Burch, director of the AKC Family Dog program, says. “The extraordinary bond between the handler and dog shines through. This is ultimately what dog training is all about. We are extremely proud of the happiness that AKC Trick Dogs across the country are bringing to their communities when they perform.”

Last year, Tracy told us about her love of AKC Trick Dog and the many benefits of the activity: mental and physical stimulation, a strengthened connection with her dog, and the satisfaction and pride both her and Gryffindor feel when they have added a new skill. “When the AKC founded their Tricks titles, it seemed like fate,” she says. Tracy, who deals with chronic struggles with Lyme Disease, says trick training is the perfect activity for both her and Gryff to manage. “I find it very uplifting to be able to accomplish something so tiny on a bad day.”

Two semi-finalists were also recognized: Carly, an Australian Cattle Dog owned by Laura Morefield, and a Dash, a Papillon owned by Sharon Page.

One of the competition judges was Morgan Williams-Avila, whose own dogs star on both the stage and screen. “I was honored to judge these extremely talented dogs, but I feel every dog owner can be a winner when they spend quality time teaching their dog to do fun tricks,” Morgan says. “Teaching tricks can be challenging, but each trick taught enhances your relationship with your dog.”

Winner: “Gryff”

Registered Name: Watermark’s Brave at Heart RN TD OA AXJ XF CA DS CGC TKE
Breed: Golden Retriever
Handler: Tracy Dulock
From: Robinson, Texas

Semi-finalist: “Carly”

Registered Name: Carly AX MXJ OF TKE
Breed: Australian Cattle Dog
Handler: Laura Morefield
From: Midland, North Carolina

Semi-finalist: “Dash”

Registered Name: MACH Topflite Dash 4 Cash UD BN GN GO RE FDC MXB MJB T2B CGC TKE
Breed: Papillon
Handler: Sharon Page
From: McFarland, Wisconsin

All teams that submitted a video will receive a memento trophy and the three winning teams will receive a personalized trophy.

Get Started in AKC Trick Dog

If you’re feeling inspired, you can get your own pup started in AKC Trick Dog right now. Dogs of any breed and age — including mixed breeds and senior dogs — can learn new tricks and earn titles.