An excerpt from an upcoming article in BARKS from The Guild.
Why do I love teaching tricks and why do my dogs love learning them? Why would you want to teach your dog tricks? What are tricks, anyway? How old should your dog if you want them to learn how to do tricks? How do I teach them? When do I find the time to teach them? Why do I use rewards? What is it that makes both teaching and learning tricks so much fun? Surely I should be teaching my dogs more important things? These are just some of the questions that I have been asked about teaching tricks.
Why do I love teaching tricks and why do my dogs love learning them? This question has a very simple answer: Because tricks are fun! I really enjoy the process of deciding what I am going to teach and planning how to break it down into bite sized portions so that I can effectively teach it to my learner. I love the actual teaching process and the ways in which my training buddy lets me know how much he or she is both understanding and enjoying the game. Yes, that’s right, I said “game”! When behaviours are taught in an easy to understand manner, with the appropriate motivation/reinforcement and with a fun-filled, joyous attitude from the teacher, they should feel like a game! The learner then immerses him/herself in the game. Learning becomes almost effortless. The journey begins – a journey that is a collection of memorable moments! A journey that takes you on a fun filled voyage that culminates in that eureka moment. Your pupil understands what he/she has been taught. “Yes! This is what she wants! Yippee, look at me!”
Why would you want to teach your dog tricks? If, after reading the previous paragraph, you still need to ask this question then I am not sure how I would answer you. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I often use the word trick as a synonym for the word behavior. I believe that by calling behaviors tricks we embark on the teaching process with a different attitude. We are thinking about having fun and we tend to be more relaxed in our demeanor. This doesn’t mean that we haven’t thoroughly planned what we are about to teach. It doesn’t mean that we are going to be slapdash with our training. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t continued our education to further our knowledge. It just means that we usually have a very positive attitude and that our pupil thrives under our tutelage.
I bet there are at least two teachers whose classes really stand out from your school years. One of them will, hopefully, stand out for all the right reasons. You enjoyed their classes. The teacher taught in a thoughtful way. The teacher made you feel relaxed. This attitude promoted an atmosphere conducive to accelerated learning. You probably achieved some of your best grades in this class and with this teacher. The other class or teacher you are most likely to remember will, without doubt,be the one that you didn’t enjoy. It will be the class that you probably struggled in or the class in which, although you could easily do the work, you just didn’t enjoy doing it. You felt no sense of accomplishment at the end of this class. You just felt a sense of relief. Sadly, I think many dogs and their guardians must feel this way when they are unfortunate enough to select a class with a less than enthusiastic teacher or worse still, a class that uses punishment rather than motivation and rewards.
Read the full article in an upcoming edition of BARKS from the Guild.
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