One of the benefits of teaching a dog new tricks is impressing your friends and family. Fancy canine feats also help strengthen the bond between dog and dog owner, and provide exercise for the dog’s body and brain.
“As your dog starts to learn things, and you start to communicate some of these really simple behaviors, you suddenly become a team and there’s a partnership,” says Cindy Otto, executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.
Otto says teaching tricks to a dog challenges it to work on learning new things, “and that makes their little wheels turn.”
Otto and other dog training experts from the School of Veterinary Medicine are holding dog training classes this month that are open to the public. The four weekly sessions of the classes begin on Wednesday, April 17.
The “Tricks” class introduces dog owners to basic foundations needed to build more complex actions.
Otto says she considers all dog behaviors to be tricks.
“There are tricks that we call ‘obedience,’ there are tricks we call ‘fitness.’ There are different aspects of tricks that can enhance a dog’s social behavior, as well as your relationship,” she says.
Through the training, the dogs will learn obedience in fun ways, and build a foundation that will lead to learning other tricks and behaviors.
Otto says touching your hand with the dog’s paw is a shake, which could then become a wave, “which can lead to playing the piano.”
In the “First Aid” class, pet owners and working dog handlers can learn how to evaluate their dog and learn to recognize when it needs emergency veterinary care.
Instructors will show how to teach dogs to socialize with other dogs, as well as people, in the “Canine Good Citizen” class,
For more information, or to sign up for any of the classes, visit the Penn Vet Working Dog Center website.