The performing of dog tricks, while not a necessary part of a dog’s education, is an accomplishment that offers dog owners and their friends a great deal of amusement and adds materially to the value of a dog.
All dogs can be taught tricks, but some breeds have a special aptitude in that direction. At the head of the list of tricks, dogs are the poodle, as he takes to the performance of tricks as if it was second nature, and he is the main reliance of all showmen dogs.
Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and Great Danes learn without difficulty, while the collies and spaniels are very intelligent; the terriers are quick learners and among the toy dog breed, the Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, and Toy Poodle are highly spoken of and can pick up tricks almost effortlessly.
In selecting the tricks that are to be taught to a dog, the owner must show some discretion and no attempt should be made to teach dogs tricks that are not within their powers. For example, a big St. Bernard or Great Dane is sadly out of place or rather almost unachievable attempting to sit up, walk on his hind legs, or dance.
These dog breeds are physically incapable of doing such tricks and persistent attempts to train them are really toying with their dignity. They can, however, with appropriate guidance and training taught to fetch and carry, jump, shake hands or speak. Talking about specialty, it is interesting to note that dog breeds such as spaniels are particularly apt at fetching and carrying, collies can learn to count and speak readily, and the terriers have a wide sphere of possibilities.
Dogs that are to be taught tricks must have their education begun early in life, so that the playfulness of puppyhood can be taken advantage of, for as dogs mature they take on a sedateness and seriousness that increases the difficulty of teaching them to assume unnatural positions, whereas, with a puppy, a trick can be made more or less a matter of play, and he will enjoy going through with it.
In the general education and training tricks to a puppy, very little punishment should be given and in trick puppy training no punishment at all. A dog can be forced to do certain things, but if forced he generally acts so slow and sulky that it detracts from his performance, whereas, if he is coaxed into doing them and performs because he likes to, he will go through with his act with enthusiasm and spontaneous that is most attractive and fun-loving.
For these reasons you must not get overly excited while training your young dog nor speak loud, nor cuff and whip him, but should buy the frequent good-natured repetition of the same performance to persuade and coax him to assume certain attitudes or do certain things, and when he has done so, praise him; he will then know that you appreciate what he has done. It is also most desirable to reward him with plentiful praise and treats.
In the end, remember not all dogs can perform every single dog trick, as some breeds do have some physical limitations. Even so, enjoy teaching your dog ‘achievable’ new tricks, and most importantly have fun along the way!