(Originally written for the Press Banner, a San Lorenzo Valley Newspaper)
Gatherings of family and friends during the holidays provide the perfect opportunity for my dog, Tyche, to shine. With an ever-growing repertoire of tricks and a twinkle in her eye, Tyche presents her latest and greatest for party guests with extraordinary enthusiasm. This year we will go through new tricks including: “Is That Scary?,” when Tyche hides head under pillow; “You’re Under Arrest,” when she puts her paws up on the wall; and the Lipizzaner Stallion Leap”; along with some of the old favorites like “Crawl,” “Take a Bow” and “Bang-Bang,” when she plays dead.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our dogs this holiday season, or anytime for that matter, is attention. Attention can come in many forms, but I’ve found tricks to be the gifts that just keep giving. Not only is the time spent teaching tricks very rewarding, but the rewards just get better as your dog gets to show off for friends and family.
There are few things in life that a dog loves more than being the center of attention – especially if all that attention is followed by lots of ooohs, aaahs, smiles and laughter.
Here are two simple tricks you can teach your dog:
Spin and Rewind
This can be used to get your dog to untangle herself from the leash, or just for fun.
- Have your dog follow a piece of food in your hand to complete a circle, and then praise her, offer a treat and repeat several times.
- Stop using the food lure— continue using the same hand motion, but without the lure—keep the food hidden in your other hand. Then praise & treat when your dog completes the circle.
- Add the cue word, “Spin.”
- Teach your dog to go the opposite direction and call it “rewind.”
This can be used to get your dog to jump over most anything: your leg, a puddle, a hoola hoop, even a circle hoop made with your own arms.
- Sit on the ground or in a chair with your leg stretched out low. Use a food lure to guide your dog over your leg. Praise as your dog is going over your leg, give a treat and repeat. Gradually raise the height of your leg.
- Stop using the food lure but continue using the same hand motion. Praise, give a treat and repeat.
- Add in the verbal cue – either “jump” or “over” – just before you give the hand signal.
- Teach your dog to jump over other things.
If the trick bug bites and your ready to learn more I hope you will consider enrolling in a class to learn more tricks. If you prefer a self-study approach there are several good books on the subject and lots of free information on the internet.