The Root of the Behavior
So, why DO dogs do tricks? Since canine behavior is largely based on logic, we can learn a great deal by observing dogs during training exercises. Our dogs are canine opportunists. They learn very quickly how to manipulate situations and people to get their desired response. It is highly possible that tricks earn Fido the ultimate prize, which is your attention. More than anything else in this world, Fido loves quality time spent with you. It is more valuable to him than a slice of prime rib with gravy on top! If Fido doing a spin or a twist, brings a smile to your face, or even better, a laugh; chances are good that Fido is going to keep offering you more and more behaviors. He knows that it makes you happy, and THAT makes him happy. But it's not just the finished product that brings our dogs great joy. Dogs also enjoy the journey. Training time generally equates to two of Fido's most favorite things in the whole world. As you well know, those two things are treats, and time spent with you. Training is a win-win for Fido!
Encouraging the Behavior
What does this mean for you? Are some dogs untrainable? The answer is a resounding no! All dogs are trainable, but some dogs require different motivations. In working with a breed of dog that is known for independent thinking, strong prey drive, or impulsive behavior, one of the key things you must focus on is learning to let the dog think that the skill they are learning was THEIR idea and not yours. Some dog breeds like to be in control, and others bore very easily. You must learn to be the most fascinating thing in the room. This tool is helpful regardless of the breed of dog you are working with, but is an absolute must if you are working with a terrier whose tendency can be to blow you off to go do something HE would rather be doing instead of performing a 2 minute sit stay because you want to enter him in your kennel club's next obedience event.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Many online retailers also offer books, DVDs, and digital downloads that can help get you started with training your dog. Be sure to select one that focuses on what you are most interested in. If you are wanting to have the next agility star, you will want to focus on training materials that teach the foundation behaviors for the sport. If parlor tricks are your aim, pick up a book that shows some of your favorite commands you'd like Fido to learn. Lastly, some towns offer classes in trick training. Consult with your local dog daycare, veterinarian, or kennel club to learn what is available in your area.