Stuck inside because of the coronavirus outbreak? How about something silly to take your mind off things?
Learn how professionals train pets to do all sorts of things and amuse your friends with a video of your dog or cat doing a Letterman-style trick.
How Do Professionals Train Dogs?
Pets do tricks for us because they have learned to associate a specific behavior with a reward. The reward can be a treat such as food or play time, praise, or all of the above. To help the animal understand the specific behavior they are supposed to do, trainers often use a clicker. The pet is first trained to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat. Next the trainer calls the pet’s attention to the behavior he or she would like the pet to learn by clicking whenever the pet successfully does the behavior. Then, the trainer rewards the pet. The pet learns to associate the action with the treat and the trick is learned.
Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?
Yes! Old dogs (and cats) are every bit as capable of learning a new trick as a young dog or cat. Training stimulates your pet, improves your bond, and can improve your pet’s activity level, an important consideration especially in overweight pets.
What’s a Pet Training Clicker and How Does It Work?
Clickers are inexpensive, but invaluable tools that help trainers teach pets. Clickers serve to provide a unique sound that can ‘mark’ a desired behavior. The first step in using a clicker to train your pet is to ‘charge’ it. This means that you have to help the pet understand that when the clicker makes a noise, the pet receives an immediate reward. Charging the clicker is a simple process. Working in a quiet space where your have the attention of your pet, click the clicker, and then offer an immediate food treat. If your pet is initially startled or afraid of the clicking sound, cup the clicker in your hand to muffle the sound. Offer only a tiny piece of food as a treat and keep training sessions short and focused. We recommend a low cal, healthy treat like freeze dried, meat treats. They’re lean, healthful, and low-cal.
Mark The Desired Behavior With A Click
Once your pet learns to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat, use the clicker to mark the specific behavior that you would like the pet to repeat. It’s very important that you mark the behavior while it is happening, so pay close attention to the actions of your pet. A simple trick or command to train your pet to do is to sit. You can hold a treat over your pet’s head and move it backwards so that the pet has to lean his or her head back to see it. This will often force your pet to sit down so that he or she can follow the movement of the treat. When your pet sits, mark the behavior with a click, and provide the reward.
Most Pets Train Very Quickly
Most pets, especially dogs, are very eager to learn and work for rewards. Interestingly this reward doesn’t always have to be food. Most of our country’s fiercest police and military dogs aren’t rewarded with food, but play time! In fact, many German Shepherd police dogs couldn’t care less about commendations or metals for routing out the enemy, finding a bomb, or sniffing out a stash of drugs; the thing that they most love as a reward is a silly game of tug of war with their trainer.
Tricks To Teach Your Dog (or Cat!)
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has done an excellent job at putting together a list of simple-to-advanced tricks to train your dog to perform, but why stop at dogs? Cats too can be trained. The clicker method works just as well on cats as it does on dogs, although it may be more difficult to obtain and hold a cat’s focus on learning because they are loners by nature.
American Kennel Club List of Tricks
The American Kennel Club offers Trick Titles to pet owners and dogs that learn certain sets of tricks. Use the links below to see the full list of tricks in each section.
- Novice Tricks: Includes crawling, ‘find it’, jump throughs, and kiss. View the full list of AKC novice dog tricks.
- Intermediate Tricks: Includes open door, ‘shell game’, remove right object from box, open drawer, and wave goodbye or hello. View full list of AKC intermediate tricks.
- Advanced Tricks: Turn on light, remove handlers shoe or slipper, ‘say your prayers’, ‘cover your eyes’, take a bow, View full list of AKC advanced tricks.
- Elite Tricks: See AKC for more information or use the link to the AKC Elite Performer videos to see some of the advanced tricks that these handlers and their dogs have come up with. Impressive!
Letterman and Stupid Pet Tricks
For those of us old enough to remember, the David Letterman Show was groundbreaking, late night entertainment. His quirky sense of humor and outside-of-the-box sketches were unlike anything America or the world had ever seen. One of his most famous show segments was the Stupid Pet segment that he routinely did on the show using ordinary folks with their pet dogs, cats, birds and other animals. Enjoy this trip down memory lane. In all there were more than 200 of these segments filmed over the lifetime of the show.
Hollywood Stut Dogs Make Fortunes
In A Valley Of Violence co-star Jumpy, a Border Collie, Blue Healer mix, steals the show with some of his tricks. Over the years canine and other pet stars have earned 10’s of millions of dollars at the box office. Explore the link below to read more about some of these amazing animal stars that were national and global celebrities.