Truman Blue is the “most funnest” dog I have ever had. Training dogs is rewarding on so many levels, the most important being training teaches you and your dog to communicate with each other. The least important is brag rights, but that’s fun too.
The Gestalt theory, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is exemplified in the relationship between a human and dog. There is power in tricks and skills.
The first trick I remember teaching a dog, I learned from watching Rin-Tin-Tin. I was six years old and taught my basenji-fox terrier mix to attack my merciless older brother. “Get him!” Fortunately, the dog just nipped. I don’t think my parents believed my brother who claimed their adorable six-year-old daughter would or could do such a thing. Suffice to say that my brother no longer teased me when Frankie-dog was with me.
When I was nine, my dachshund and I received a blue ribbon at a “family fair dog show” because he sat more quickly than any other dog. It was the beginning of my interest in performance events.
I entered adulthood looking for ways to better connect with my dogs. I showed in conformation classes, and obedience classes, but they were not the best fit for me. I did put champion and obedience titles on two fox terriers, and four obedience titles on my two Siberian huskies, but wanted something different.
When I trained my first therapy dog, Leala, something clicked. Truman Blue is my third certified therapy dog, and my first crisis response dog. I enjoy serving my community by comforting people with my dogs. If feels right.
I also learned the fun of dog tricks, and teaching with all positive reinforcement. I start out by watching my dogs, observing their natural inclinations. Teaching them to watch and listen to me is rewarding for the dog and the human.
Over the years, AKC changed its face from a purebred dog organization to an organization that supports dogs. Truman Blue is an AKC registered All American (AKA mutt), a Labrador-Bloodhound with a dash of pit, boxer and some middle eastern hound. He is an AKC registered PAL.
We have had loads of fun putting AKC titles on him. He is titled SWN THD CGC FDC TKA, and although it is not AKC recognized, certified crisis response dog. He has also acted in a stage drama. Our next title will be CGCU (Canine Good Citizen – Urban). What those titles show is that we have fun together. We have trained a lot, traveled some, taught each other, and comforted each other. (see below for title explanations)
Although I taught tricks to all my dogs as I journeyed around the sun, I really learned about the dog human connection about five years ago, when Truman became part of my family. I read Kyra Sundance’s “101 Dog Tricks” and read several books about dog’s intelligence levels including Stanley Coren’s “How Dogs Think,” “The Intelligence of Dogs,” and “How to Speak Dog, and Gregory Bern’s “How Dogs Love Us.”
I have always loved dogs but over the years working with my dogs, I have learned how much my dogs love me, especially Truman Blue.
How do you determine what tricks or skills to start teaching to your dog? Watch what they love to do and work with it. What would you teach Bear as his first trick?
Truman Blue titles
- SWN – Scent Work Novice -means he passed three tests in each of four categories
- THD – Therapy Dog (AKC) – means he has visited as a comfort therapy dog at least 50 times
- CGC – Canine Good Citizen – means he has passed a test that shows he is a good dog around other people and dogs
- FDC – Farm Dog Certification – means he has passed a test that shows he is a good dog around farm complexities
- TKA – Trick Dog Advanced – means he has passed the novice, intermediate and advanced level tricks with increased difficulty at each level.
- Certified Therapy Dog – means he has passed a test that shows he is able and willing to comfort people in controlled settings
- Certified Crisis Response Dog – means he has passed the training and test that shows he can comfort people in chaotic disaster situations.