K9 Corner, June 20

Have fun with your dogs

BY HELEN PALMER

Last week I wrote about one of the American Kennel Club (AKC)’s newest title events in which you can have fun with your dog at home as well as train your pet to compete for a title if you are so inclined.

There are four pages of tricks you can select from, far too many to record here, but the full list can be found at http://shop.domorewithyourdog.com/Trick-Dog-Title-ptitle.htm, if anyone wants to pick and choose. I will give a few samples from each level of tricks which I think would make wonderful bonding time when the weather is too hot or cold or rainy.  Most dogs love to learn new things, to stretch their minds to solve problems and be rewarded for working with the owner. One thing to remember, learning and solving problems will tire the dog so don’t be surprised if he takes a long nap after working with you.

There are four levels of difficulty in the tricks: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert tricks.  I gave about ten examples from the Novice list last week, so here are a few ideas from the Intermediate list: Barrel racing (go around, increasing the speed as the dog understands what you have in mind.)  Carry my purse (of course the purse must be a reasonable size for the dog to carry). Crawl tunnel (I think of extension ladders placed so as to make a tunnel). Honk a bike horn; what fun if you were in a parade and wanted to show off your dog’s abilities.  Hide in a box would be nice if you were giving a program to youngsters and the dog could “hide in a box” on command. Close a door and the opposite, “Open a door.” Leg weave; the dog weaves in and out of your legs in a Figure 8 pattern as you walk.

From the Advanced tricks list there are: Directed retrieve (three objects are placed on the opposite side of the room at least 10 or 15 feet apart. You point to the object you want and send the dog to fetch it.) Jump over my back. Play dead. Pull a wagon. Ring a push button bell. Tracking; I had fun teaching my dog to track, it’s great exercise. Tidy up toys (dog puts toys in a basket). Back up (The handler can either walk toward the dog instructing “back” or with the dog on the left side of the handler they can both back up together.)

The Expert list gets a lot harder and the dog should be familiar with learning tricks from the easier lists first and actually appear bored with those tricks.  Here are a few examples. Basketball (remember the movie with a golden retriever playing basketball? It takes a good-size dog to do this one.) Fetch a soda from the fridge which involves opening and closing the fridge door. Take a bow. Retrieve the phone when it rings. Push a shopping cart (large dog only). Check the full list for other ideas.

Now go and have fun with your dog!