Here are some tips to immerse your dog in the world of trick training!

Cultivate Enthusiasm

The more enthusiastic you are about training, the more enthusiastic your dog will be. If you’ve ever seen Chris perform live, that’s how highly engaged he is during training sessions, too. That positive energy is part of what makes Chris’s dogs perform so brilliantly: tails wagging, smiling, eager for the next cue. If you’re not naturally exuberant, this may seem awkward or forced at first, but trust us: Enthusiasm is key to having a spirited dog who loves trick training.

Short Training Sessions

Dogs learn better in short training sessions. At first, train a new trick for five minutes or less and then switch to another behavior or activity. If your dog doesn’t understand a trick after a couple of minutes, review a trick or behavior that he is already good at. Preventing frustration will strengthen your dog’s focus and desire to train the next time.

Begin with a Review, End with a Success

Start each training session with a warmup: Review a trick your dog learned in your last session. Starting this way will strengthen what he learned last time and build confidence. Transition to a new trick. End on a big success: not necessarily on a new step, but performing an action or trick you’re certain he’ll succeed at so that you can give him a big, enthusiastic reward.

Each training session can be as short as fifteen minutes: a five-minute review, five minutes spent learning a brand-new trick, a few minutes to polish a second trick, and ending on a trick that your dog is already great at performing.

Trick Training for Humans

While training, your focus should be on making clear motions that give cues, offering praise after a success, and setting up the next trick or repetition. Build up good habits by keeping your legs, body, arms, and head calm. As you’re training your dog, you’re also training yourself to be consistent, enthusiastic, positive, and specific with your motions and speech. This may seem complicated at first, but we promise that this will become second nature as you practice trick training with your dog.

Tips excerpted from The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever: A Step-by-Step Guide to 118 Amazing Tricks and Stunts” by Larry Kay and Chris Perondi (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2019.

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