From what I hear, it isn’t enough for a writer to sit around writing alone. You have to force yourself to become an extrovert and network and platform and find ways to reclaim your introverted self in a snap and write in the cobwebby corners of your now extra-hectic life. If you’re like me, and find all that self-promotion queasy and sleazy, you find ways to promote not yourself but other people and passions you share. So I’ve been busy working behind the scenes on The Gloria Sirens and letting Mick take me out in the world. He’s three now, going on four, and helping me teach tricks at the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club. With Mick and Maisie’s help, (they are working dogs, you know), I’ve braved the Youtube world, stumbling my way through videotaped tricks training lessons without knowing a thing about framing, lighting, editing, or sound. But it’s going all right (even though all of this is more and more unpaid work, such is the madness of love). I’m doing it because tricks saved Mick’s life and I want to share what we learned so that your love for your dog might grow a little more fierce, a little more sweet, and a little sillier too. So here are 7 reasons I love the art of trick dog training.
- It’s a fun, easy, convenient way to interact with your dog anywhere, anytime, and you don’t need an A-frame, a flyball box, or a sheep farm. All you need are some treats and know-how.
- It rejuvenates your relationship with your dog. Perhaps your dog is easily bored, or seems a little depressed, or distant. Maybe you have an awesome agility or obedience dog but you’re both getting bored, or strained, or you want something you two can do in the living room without breaking a lamp. Maybe your dog’s grown naughty and you’ve grown discontent–too much toilet-paper shredding, chronic weave-pole refusal, or a pathological Minecraft addiction (yours or your dog’s). Do some tricks together, and you’ll fall in love with each other all over again.
- Tricks add charm to your already charming pet. How much cuter is your Yorkie waving bye-bye? How much cooler is your bull terrier when she brings you a beer? Imagine if your service dog could shake a dialysis patient’s hand, give a child with leukemia a high-five, or even pray with patients?
- Tricks ease your guilt. Maybe you’ve had to spend long hours away from home. Maybe your human kids have monopolized all your time. Maybe you have multiple dogs and one’s been neglected. Maybe it’s your new puppy. Maybe it’s your retired agility or herding star, and you’re weary of feeling harried and sad. Well, if you can, shut the other dogs and kids away for a few minutes right now. This is quality time to cherish your furry friend.
- You can do it now. Get down on the ground and join us for some playful interaction with your best friend. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned dog trainer, learning some cool tricks together can deepen your bond and soften your soul.
- A trick is a small, focused goal you share mindfully in time and space with your dog. You two are in cahoots. Together you’re gonna nail roll over. Or you’re finally going to have a dog that can sit up and beg because it’s so darn cute and makes for great photos. Whatever your heart’s desire, this is one-on-one time. Eye-to-eye, here-and-now time. Low-pressure, high-value happiness time. It proves to the both of you that you are there–really there–for your dog. It doesn’t matter what the trick is or how quickly your dog learns it. All that matters is joy in your short time together. That’s why every trick is magic.
- It gives you some great new ideas and a belly laugh.
All it takes is two-to-ten-minute sessions, your call. If you’re worried about overfeeding, you can use your dog’s regular food. If you hate how expensive dog treats have gotten, you can cut up some hotdogs or cheese or even use plain popcorn–stop making excuses and be creative! If your dog isn’t food-motivated, get a new squeak or tug toy and use it just for Tricks training–a special toy for a special time. And you don’t have to go it alone. You can work along with me by subscribing to our Youtube channel or join other dog lovers in our Facebook group, Mick’s Tricks Spark Team.