Trick Dog: The AKC launched its Trick Dog titling program in May 2017, following the lead of the Do More With Your Dog organization, which started awarding Trick Dog titles in 2005. Trick dog celebrates the long history of people teaching their dogs tricks to show off to friends and family as well as the highly trained professional dog actors like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and of course Bull Terriers like Bodger, The Kid, Bullseye, and Spuds.
There are four levels of Trick Dog titles. The AKC has lists of qualifying tricks at each level online at akc.org/sports/trick-dog/. Ten tricks are required for the entry level Trick Dog title, but if your dog has a CGC, that can count for 5 tricks toward that title, so you’re halfway there! Treats and toys are allowed in the first level, so there’s no reason not to give it a try!
Bull Terriers & Trick Dog: As with training your Bull Terrier for any title, it’s important to keep training fun, and trick training has a built-in advantage because most Bull Terriers love attention, laughter and applause, which is the whole point of trick training. You can pick the tricks that your dog most enjoys performing, or perhaps tricks your Bull Terrier invented to qualify for these titles.
Keep trick training sessions very short, and reward frequently. If your dog creates its own variation on the trick--no worries--it’s your trick and you can do it any way you please.
Where to find instructors: Many obedience clubs and schools are starting to offer tricks training classes, the Do More With Your Dog website also has links to trainers certified in their program and even some online training courses. Note that DMWYD is separate from the AKC Trick Dog title and has different titling requirements, but tricks are tricks and can be used for titles in either organization.
How to get started: Look at the AKC lists of tricks to get inspiration for a trick you’d like to try, grab some treats, and start working! Consider pursuing a CGC to get a leg up on that first level Trick Dog title.
National organization: American Kennel Club akc.org/sports/trick-dog
Do More With Your Dog domorewithyourdog.com
Equipment: No special equipment other than what’s required for your trick, so it could be nothing but a handful of treats. Some suggested higher-level tricks involve mats, balls, weave poles, balance beams, hoops, and wobble boards.
Time: It’s likely that you and your dog can learn enough tricks in a 6-8 week tricks class to become a certified Trick Dog, if you want to pursue the CGC route an additional 6-week class may be required. Make sure you take the tricks “on the road” a few times before pursuing certification so that you are confident your dog is able to generalize and perform the trick in multiple locations. Always keep training sessions short and emphasize the fun. Getting your friends or family to watch and applaud will further reinforce the trick behaviors.
Bull Terrier activity expert: Cleo Parker 734-634-3501 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org