I Blame Canada for Making Me Turn (to) Tricks

Honey the Golden Retriever sits in front of the tub.

I’m cute just the way I am.

I hope you’re happy.

You damn cheese-eating Canadian, you.

It wasn’t enough that you wanted to teach your dog tricks. You had to make me want to also.

I’d curse you, Kristine Tonks…. If I wasn’t having so much fun.

Why I Hate Dog Tricks

I like dogs. I like them as dogs.

Not babies. Not fuzzy humans. Not performers for my amusement. And certainly not as moving mannequins for fashions endorsed by some has-been rock star (?) from a mediocre 1980s hair band.

I saw no need to teach Honey (or any previous dog) tricks. Honey is fine the way she is.

But I’ve been evolving (or, for you Creationists out there, experienced divine revelation).

And I’m starting to see that teaching Honey tricks is not such a bad idea.

Why I Love Dog Tricks

My goal for the Train Your Dog Month Challenge is to make grooming more fun for Honey. I didn’t have a plan. I got out my clicker and some liverwurst and decided to see what happened.

Honey immediately saw our work as a game. And, before I knew it, she was happily jumping in and out of the tub to solicit a click and treat.

Once in the tub, she sat, spun in a circle, offered a “high-five”, jumped out, jumped in again. In other words, she was trying to figure out how she could get more treats. And it looked like she was having fun.

Turning the water on didn’t even faze her.

I’ve realized some important benefits to teaching Honey tricks. Learning quirky behaviors on cue:

  • gives her an outlet for behaviors she already likes to offer (pawing; I swear she thinks she’s a Boxer)
  • excites her
  • help strangers connect with her
  • give her something to do when she’s excited besides jump on people
  • distracts her from things she usually finds frightening
  • stimulates her mind
  • builds her confidence

Oh, and I almost forgot. Training tires Honey out more than any walk. After a training session, she’ll sleep long enough for me to write an entire blog post.

Honey the Golden Retriever does a handstand.

What do you mean I look just like Shiva doing her handstand?

Honey is Only Limited by My Lack of Imagination

What fun things will Honey learn next?

Why are you asking me? I have a terrible lack of imagination.

Luckily I know a wonderful, cheese-eating Canadian with a smart, pretty, and crazy dog who has no such problem. I guess it’s time to start reviewing her dog trick videos for inspiration.

And soon, maybe Honey and I will be as good at turning tricks as Kristine and Shiva.

Do you like trick training? Does your dog?







Want to join the Train the Dog Month Challenge? It’s not too late. Just grab the badge below, share your progress at the end of the month, and join the linky list so more people can find you.

One person will be picked at random to win a $25 donation to their favorite animal charity and a prize pack for themselves and their dog. Oh, and don’t forget the kitties, ferrets, guinea pigs, and birds. All are welcome in the challenge.

Grab my badge! Just copy the following into your widget bar:  
<img src=”http://i1247.photobucket.com/albums/gg628/PDWebster/TrainYourDogBadge125x125_zpsd39ef571.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Something Wagging This Way Comes”/>

Train Your Dog Challenge Badge.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I agree with you about dogs being dogs and not fuzzy humans but tricks are a brilliant way to stimulate your dog and, as you say, they tire them out far more than a long walk. Well done to Honey for learning so quickly (and well done to you as well).

  2. First off, thanks fur the diss of that aging, never really was, one hit wonder best known for demeaning women on a terrible reality show…not that i have strong feelings about it or anything 😉

    As for tricks,I pretty much stopped after shake and sit up pretty…I’ve never mastered the knack of clicker training though I’ve tried…What you’ve accomplished with Honey and the bathtub would be nothing short of a miracle around here…I can’t imagine Gizmo willingly climbing into the tub…It’s very impressive

  3. I enjoy training tricks, and Toby and Meadow seem to really enjoy it. Gives them another job. Toby especially loves to show off his tricks when we have company.

    However, Leah says, “What’s the point?” She doesn’t care for repetitive things, so I don’t do much trick, or regular training with her because of that. She’s obedient by nature anyway, so it’s not like she needs it.

    • P.S. Here I am rambling on about myself. How rude. I forgot to say good job on making a chore into a fun game for Honey. That’s the most awesome trick of all!

  4. When I first figured out Bella was smarter than I am, and that she needed something to do to keep her out of trouble, I bought a book called “101 Dog Tricks”. Bella LOVES to learn new tricks as you have apparently discovered Honey does, too. Beau knew “paw” and that’s pretty much it. He didn’t need to learn all sorts of tricks because he was quite content to sit by my side watching TV or go back-packing either way — on my schedule.

    Bella, not so much. She needs much more stimulation to stay out of trouble and I think Honey, while not getting into trouble, is also a much more vibrant dog with lots of energy to burn than my Beau was.

    Until the day the girls age to the point where they’ll quietly lie beside us while we read a book, I’m afraid we’re stuck with thinking up new tricks to teach them. I see all the agility obstacles as ‘tricks’, as well. It’s all training, it’s all relationship-building and whether or not it has some practical purpose in a dog’s life, it’s all good.

    Good job, Honey, for teaching your mom a new trick. 😉

  5. Sage is a “what’s the point?” dog but certainly mastered the tub without much work. Maybe it’s better (in her eyes) than the hosing off she gets after a really muddy hike. :)

  6. Tricks? I can’t even get Dexter to shake a paw :(

  7. I think dogs come in all personalities, like people. Some are one-trick wonders, like those pop singers that popped out one great song before admitting that was it; others should join the circus because it’s all they want to do. Wiener dogs seem to like basically two tricks: those involving food treats and those involving racing other wieners. Really, if I have tiny microscopic pieces of hot dog in my pocket,my wieners will do calculus.

  8. HA – Ann, Wieners doing calculus for food; right on – my new adoptable Beagle, Sydney, will be a great trick dog once I start following Kristine and Pam’s lead. Super photo of Honey jumping in the tub; I’ll print it out LARGE and put it above my dog tub (the second bathroom – all in pink, egads) for inspiration.
    Good post, Pam – I’ve heard before how trick training is very good for dogs’ minds, activity as well as challenging to us owners. And BTW, I’ve watched that agility video a gazillion times, still laughing out loud each time I see the total JOY in that dog’s face.

  9. I love trick training too! It’s really helped Hurley and I bond. When we both were-who’s kidding who-ARE frustrated by impulse control and reactivity training, tricks enable us to keep working without the frustration and with all the fun. I think he would absolutely be an out of control 2 year teenage dog if we didn’t also take a time out from the important work of shaping him into the awesome dog he’s going to be to enjoy a little trick time. Besides, a Hurley in a box is about the most adorable thing in the world and he’s soooooo proud of himself when he gets to learn something new.

    Like you, I’ve used their love of learning to incorporate desensitization of hated things like nail clippings into our bag o’ tricks. I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from trick training is that it makes training fun and it’s been easier for me to figure out how to take that fun and train real behavior improvement into the mix so it’s not all tricks and games but also behavioral progress.

  10. I’m all for training…. except for getting in the bath! No way!

  11. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    It has been a busy 2 days again, meaning no time to pull out the laptop and work on adding your “Train Your Dog Month” badge to the blog. But I have been working on the training part. If I can ever get around to putting it into words, you’ll see it at the end of the month. Honey is going start asking for baths soon if you’re not careful. LOL. Just be sure to have her treats handy.

  12. I enjoy seeing tricks, but I’m bad at teaching them. There’s only so much time in the day, and that’s one of the things that hasn’t become a priority. That being said, I’m not adverse to them at all, and I have had fun with them in the past.

  13. I LOVE that bottom picture of Honey jumping in the tub!!!

    My Oldest is the dog-trick-trainer in our family. I’m still working on a good recall. :(

  14. I love training! My pups love it, too! It is so fun for me to watch them learn and grow. They get so excited when they get it right. It is also such a fun bonding experience for us. Have a happy Sunday!

  15. Yay! That’s the thing about trick training. It’s not just silly or about showing off, it’s also great for building confidence, enhancing your relationship, and provides a terrific outlet for energy. Tricks have definitely helped us work on Shiva’s reactivity as well, especially around people. I hate saying no to children who want to pet her so instead I will get Shiva to perform a simple behaviour, like rolling over, and have the child throw a treat on the ground for her. This not only keeps the child a safe distance away, but it helps Shiva keep her focus and the child feels like she has interacted with her. It’s a win-win for all!

    Honey doesn’t have this problem, obviously, but I am so glad tricks have helped her adjust to grooming and that her eagerness to learn has shown you how much fun they can be. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  16. That title… I can’t stop giggling.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with for Honey!

  17. I agree Pamela, I have no desire to see Koly as a performing monkey (though I DO want to see him in that Bret Micheals bandana. To each their own, eh?) we train tricks for the same reasons you do: it’s a relationship builder. The more Koly & I train at the silly stuff, the easier and faster the training on the big stuff gets. He’ll never be Shiva (and I’ll never be as good a trainer as Kristine), but we have fun. In the end, that’s all that counts.

  18. I love learning tricks and new games!!! Fun, fun, fun!!! My buddy Walker, on the other hand, is not so crazy about it. Training requires him to think. He doesn’t like thinking. I guess some dogs are that way. I’m glad you and Honey are having a good time with your training.

  19. I think Delilah likes learning tricks, or rather she likes the treats she gets from learning tricks. I love watching her try to figure things out. She stares so intently.

    I’ve yet to start working on a trick for train your dog month, but today we made real progress when she had a bath, she actually stayed in the tub while the water was running!

  20. Ah ha, I just read Donna’s comment and realized I did the same thing!! Good grief.

    Congratulations on your trick training Pamela, I bet you catch the fever. Maybe freestyle?

  21. LOL! Pamela I knew exactly which cheese-eating Canadian you were speaking of as soon as I read the title! I have also felt the pressure to do tricks like Kristine does with Shiva. Truth be told, she puts me to shame. I have taught my client’s dogs more tricks than y own. What does that tell you? I’m lazy? Yes! I am!

    I actually will be working on tricks this week. 1. because it’s going to be too damn cold to be outdoors for long here this week, and 2. I am still recovering from the flu gunk and the cold seems to exacerbate it. So game on Kristine and Shiva and Pamela and Honey!!!

    Congrats on the grooming work. Sounds like Honey likes tricks and treats quite well. :)

  22. LOL!! Your opening for this cracked me up. And how freakin cute is Honey? Adorable as always.