The Star-Herald

Dog tricks: where to start

Just a reminder that Saturday, June 2nd is our popular “Paws for the Cause” walk. Registration will start at 9:30 with the walk starting at 10 a.m., rain or shine. There will be prizes, refreshments and a special treat for your pet as well.  Start collecting pledges today to help all your furry friends at the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

Teaching your dog new tricks can be great fun for all involved. You can start off by doing something simple, like weaving in and out of your legs or fetching some article by name, or teaching your dog to shut a door.

There are a few people who find it demeaning to the dog to teach them tricks, but be assured that dogs love learning and especially being appreciated. Learning to do something new will cover both of these needs. Both of you will benefit from the experience and learn more about each other.
Suggested tricks could include: Close the door, roll over, catch, give a paw, open a box, find members of your family or toy by name, bark on command, weave through your legs, jump over objects or crawl under a low object or chair.

With any trick, split it into small sequences and teach each one a step at a time. If the task is complicated, start with the last sequence first, and then add the previous element to the beginning and build up from there. This method is called reverse chaining. It is excellent as it helps the dog learn as he always ends with the familiar part. Rather than waiting until the whole sequence is learnt, reward every step for getting closer and closer to your goal. Each step you are asking a little more of your dog.
The use of clickers can work extremely well as you are able to reward your dog at the correct time, even if he is still some distance away from his goal.

While tricks can be fun, they can also be beneficial — for instance, picking up something or fetching some sort of aid to help a disabled person. Many sight-impaired people use Seeing-Eye Dogs; they start out the same way, by learning tricks and then graduating to more advanced training.

The whole process should be imaginative. Think over what your dog enjoys and develop this to include a whole collection of tricks. The dog will enjoy learning something different and will certainly enjoy all of the praise in getting something right. All that is needed is a dose of persistence and time invested in her training, and by doing this you will be rewarded.  

More information can be found at

Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society to see if we might just have that perfect pet for your family.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch 12-12:30. Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

“The dog represents all that is best in man” — Etienne Charlet.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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