Last Friday I set myself (and my dog Scooter) 3 Cool Dog Tricks to accomplish. As the week’s gone by I’ve started to realize that our favourite saying ‘he’s not quite Lassie’ is right on the money. So far the 3 Cool Dog Tricks are still a work in progress! A recent article has got me thinking though, am I really missing out by not having one of those ‘clever dog’ breeds…
SlimDoggy recently highlighted a great article titled “Do Smart Dogs make Better Pets” by Linda Cole. I’m the first to admit to having massive twinges of envy whenever I watch an ‘agility’ demonstration performed by our local Kennel Club at Dog events around town. Accomplishing our own Cool Dog Tricks – ‘Balance & Catch’, ‘Touch My Hand’ and ‘Roll Over’ – has meant constant repetition, encouragement, frustration and a bucket load of treats to get Scooter even mildly interested.
What I have learnt from Cole’s article is that those dogs that have made it on the smartest dog breed list can pick up a trick in less than 5 attempts. Further down the list however is where my dog sits – “A hound….needs multiple repetitions before he picks up what you want. He’s smart enough to learn, but you have to take that extra step to find out what motivates him, and deal with his more independent nature and stubborn streak.”Even though Rupert Fawcett’s cartoon seems to epitomize my experience of trick training with Scooter I am trying to wean him off the need for treats as a reward. Boingy Dog’s latest article “10 Ways to Praise Our Dogs Without Food” has proved perfect timing for us and is full of good advice and ideas on how to keep it fun without always using food as an incentive. For Scooter, the game of tug is by far his favourite activity and I can easily use this as a reward for good behaviour.
As frustrating as the cool dog trick training has been I have started to see tiny improvements. I no longer have to move my hand near his face and position a treat in between my fingers to get him to ‘touch’ my hand. He now has enough patience to hold something on his head longer than 2-seconds. And sure, when he does attempt the ‘roll over’ trick he does lie down on my foot, take over 30-seconds to achieve a full roll and often ends up pointing the wrong way when he jumps back up but it does makes the kids laugh. Although I haven’t completely ticked off the 3 cool dog tricks that I hoped Scooter could accomplish, the dog training exercises haven’t been a complete waste of time. Granted, I may not have a ‘Lassie’ in the household with the intelligence of a 2-year old toddler, BUT what I do have is a dog that is loyal, wants to please me, likes to ‘hang-out’ with us as a family and occasionally shows a bit of aptitude (as long as there’s the possibility of a treat or a game of tug at the end).
And finally some words from Cole’s article that particularly struck a chord with me – “Intelligence isn’t what makes your pet….It’s a commitment to developing a strong bond, and the courage to be a good and fair leader. Most dogs, whether they are purebred or mixed breed, are willing to do what we ask and be as good of a pet as they can be.”
How smart do you think your dog is? Are you good at negotiating tricks without treats?
This post is also part of the Fit Dog Friday Blog hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!