My dog Lulu LOVES to do tricks. She can shake hands, high five, spin, roll over, and sit pretty. She’ll even show off for the video camera every now and then (forgive my squealing, I was excited!):
Every time I teach her something new, I think about how FUN it is to work with my dog, and see her use her brain and her body to learn new things. It’s special time that we get to spend together, increasing our bond and just having a good time. It made me wish that working on “important” things, like recall or go to place, could be that much fun.
And isn’t that true? Isn’t sitting, laying down, or coming when called, a “trick” to your dog, just like “shake” or “play dead” is? They don’t know the difference between what’s considered “fun” and what’s not – except when WE make it different for them. I get it – we get frustrated when we want our dogs to stop barking, jumping, or chewing inappropriate things, and in those moments, training ISN’T fun, and it’s tough to get your dogs excited about training when you’re not excited about it yourself. We know that training is all about motivating our dogs to do the things we like, and it’s hard to be motivating when you’re frustrated or confused about what to do next.
So, whenever I’m in a tough spot with Lulu, or any other dog I’m working with, I take a deep breath, and remind myself that “it’s all tricks to them”. That allows me to adjust my attitude a bit and remember that training is supposed to be fun – not frustrating – and that I can get just as excited about my dog sitting politely and waiting to go outside as I might if she did a backflip and got me a drink out of the fridge.