4 ways stupid pet tricks are good for your dog
Teaching your dog “stupid pet tricks” can be fun, but if your dog is also your hunting partner, you may be worried that teaching tricks will interfere or ruin him/her for hunting. It is a valid concern and there are some cautions, but generally teaching your dog tricks will be more helpful than harmful. So, it is okay to teach hunting dogs tricks if you follow some guidelines.
Why teaching dogs’ tricks is good
Much like humans, dogs have a need to learn and grow throughout life. Sitting in front of the television 10 hours a day is not good for a human or dog’s brain. As a pet owner, it is better if you keep your dog’s mind active. Now, that does not mean that you must entertain your dog all day every day. But it does mean that you should try and teach your dog new things and increase your expectations on their behavior on a regular basis. It is good for your dog to increase his/her ability to learn.
Here are some reasons why teaching your dog pet tricks is a good thing.
Pet tricks help your dog keep learning
Anytime you teach your dog something, he is learning. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching your dog to roll over and play dead, or if you are teaching him/her to SIT. Learning is good. Learning is important for a dog’s mental stability, for keeping his mind active and for increasing his/her ability to learn. If your dog learns to learn, he/she will progress in all training faster and with more ease.
Pet tricks keep your dog’s mind active
Most people do not think much about their dog’s mental stability, but we should. We all know that pets are good for improving human mental health. But we rarely stop to consider our dog’s mental health.
To keep your dog mentally healthy, you should try to keep his/her mind and body active. You can help your pet by challenging him/her with new commands or tricks. Or you can raise your expectations on commands he/she already knows and performs flawlessly. Doing this will encourage your dog to adjust to changing requirements and expectations. It will keep his/her mind active, learning and growing, an important concept for longevity.
Pet tricks can make your dog smarter and increase his/her ability to learn complex tasks
Dogs progress through training in steps. If you have a complex task that you want your dog to learn, you should break that task down into baby steps and work through the steps one by one. Therefore, learning new tasks and tricks can help your dog improve on his ability to learn more difficult or complex tricks or tasks. Regularly introducing new tricks or commands can help your dog expand his/her knowledge and ability to perform tasks.
Pet tricks help you bond with dog
Any time you are training your dog you are developing a deep bond with your dog. You are spending time with your dog, working with him/her and this naturally creates a strong bond. This is always a good thing.
Do pet tricks conflict with hunting dog training?
Generally pet tricks will not interfere with your dog’s hunting training or his/her performance in the field. But there are some instances where you can create confusion. For instance, if you have a command that you use in the field while hunting, and you teach a trick that uses a similar or the same command, that will create some problems. Your dog does will not understand that the same command in different situations means different things. That is a logic that dogs are not capable of understanding.
But all this means is that you need to be careful that commands do not overlap. You can still train your dog for the trick, but you may need to use a different word or command so that there is no confusion.
The following commands are just a few that can cause confusion:
SHAKE – Many people teach their dog to lift his/her paw to SHAKE. However, during hunting training, especially during waterfowl training, we teach a dog to shake the water off after a water retriever. In this case, I would use a different command if you wanted to teach him/her to shake hands.
DOWN – For obedience training the DOWN command is generally used to make a dog lay down. Occasionally, we have clients that use the DOWN command to mean that their dog should not jump on them. For this reason, we use an OFF command for the jumping. This is an example of how commands can overlap.
SPEAK– If you teach you dog to bark using the SPEAK command, you can run into problems when you are hunting. Most hunters want their dog to be quiet in the duck boat or blind. Therefore, if you do not want your dog to make noise during hunting, we suggest not teaching your dog the SPEAK command. It is difficult for a dog to understand that noise is okay at certain times but not others. It is best to just not teach your hunting dog this command.
Final thoughts on Is it okay to teach hunting dogs tricks?
Teaching your dog tricks will not ruin him/her as a hunting dog, but you should use caution on what tricks and commands you are using for the tricks. Try to make sure that the commands do not overlap any essential hunting commands and don’t teach your dog behaviors that you do not want to see repeated in the field. Otherwise, teaching your dog tricks is a good way to help them continue to learn and grow.
For more tips on training your retriever, check out this post.
Remember, if you really want your retriever to grow and progress this year but doing the training yourself sounds overwhelming or maybe your schedule is just too busy to get it done, I’m here to help! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just give me a call (651-303-6459). I would be happy to discuss your goals for your retriever and tell you about the programs I offer.
Until next time, happy retrieving.