And here comes an article on tricks, written for Agility Zone:
I got into tricks 10 years ago, when La was just a puppy. She was my first perfect puppy, with no fears or phobias to address, so we soon ran out of puppy things to teach. - Until we discovered tricks. And never ran out of things to have fun with again!
The great thing about tricks is that you don't need much equipment or room, you can do it anytime and anywhere when you have 5 minutes of time. Having fun while teaching La new tricks, observing how dogs think and learn, was at that time my only reason to teach tricks. But later on, I realized there are many more serious side effects of teaching tricks and by now, I believe tricks are the most important part of dog training, be it obedience, agility, disc dog - you name it.
You can teach pretty much all the elements as just another trick and it helps a lot if the dog already understands the concept of learning tricks as every next one is faster and easier to teach. With every trick, the dog is working on his thinking skills and is learning important lessons on how to solve problems, generalize and upgrade behaviours. And YOU are learning how your dog learns, about his advantages and disadvantages, that's all very important information for you. But not only the dog is learning how to use his mind, he is also learning how to use his body. Naturally, dogs use front paws a lot - but not at all when it comes to hind feet. Hind feet are there just to give power to front feet, but many dogs don't even know they're there... NOT a good thing when you want nice, efficient way of jumping and all bars up. Through tricks, the dog learns how hind feet work and that they have them. When teaching running contacts, I really noticed that the dogs get the idea much quicker if they were clicked for using their legs in that or another way before.
And probably most importantly: tricks create a great bond between you and your dog, they teach the dog that working with you is fun, prolong their focus, make it easier to motivate them... - and I could get on and on, but instead of making you waste your time reading it, you probably really should teach some tricks instead. Have fun! - And hey, you can still join us for Advanced Tricks class that started this Monday!