So why trick training? People tend to be more relaxed when teaching tricks, and thus their pets are less anxious as well. When I observe people teaching a trick to their animal, I notice more smiling, laughing, and rewards for the animal who is trying to figure out just what it is that you want them to do. Teaching something new can be frustrating, but frequent short sessions not only help your pet understand what you want, it provides them with mental stimulation through out the day.
Recently, I helped a young client teach her dog a couple of basic tricks at the end of our session. The dog was tired, but he was focused, so a good time to work on something different and fun. When her mother saw what we were doing, she commented on how learning tricks wasn't important to them. At this point, I had to explain to her why trick training is so amazing and how it will help them get what they want; a well-behaved, family dog. Given that actions speak louder than words, I demonstrated what I meant. I called the dog over. Had the dog bow and shake my hand, then sent him into his crate for a treat and his nap. He did this all without argument which is not how this usually goes. He is usually reluctant to crate when they are home, wanting to be with them all the time which is exhausting for him and for them. To see him readily and happily enter his crate and settle in for a nap after executing two new tricks he had just learned, was quite satisfying all the way around.
So, whether you are teaching your cat to wave or your dog to say his prayers, remember that you are doing something so much bigger and more important. You are spending time with your pets, having fun,, and teaching them that learning new behaviors isn't boring and it definitely isn't a waste of time.
What tricks do your pets know?
Ozzie doing a bow for the camera as requested!