AKC Trick Dog Novice Training for Chihuahuas
I started a series on my Terlingua Chihuahuas facebook page of training some new Trick Dog Novice titles, but I am having trouble posting the videos. The videos are taking 9 to 12 hours to post then often post double. I have decided I am going to switch over to posting here, and post a link on Facebook so maybe they can be viewable in a more timely manner.
Lexi and I first did Trick Dog during Covid with Ava and Kobe, who both received their titles. We found it to be fun, but most exciting was how much the dogs enjoyed it. As Chihuahuas have a short attention span, we began training it in a group session. While some things can't be trained easily with multiple dogs present, many things can. It starts a competitive feeling between the dogs and they enjoy trying to outdo each other for a treat. If they don't feel like participating, that's fine - they just don't get the treat. If they offer a different behavior - say we are working on "Get on the Box" and they offer "Step Up," I will give them a verbal "Oh, good Step Up, Ava!" but she won't get a treat for that one.
An important consideration is to use high value treats. I use Stella & Chewy's Super Beef Patties, and before we work I will break those up into small pieces. If I don't break them up in advance, I will miss giving a treat to someone who is doing the trick as I'm trying to break up the patty. So I will have this all ready.
I will also have any material together that I'm going to work on. After the dogs know a few different tricks, we will go through them all quickly. The training sessions are short and generally last as long as the treats do. Maybe 5 minutes, and I'll do 4 to 5 of these short sessions a day so that the dogs don't get bored. As I see a certain dog who is really getting excited about learning, I will focus more on that dog and if I do a solo session, that is who I will work with. Some tricks are better worked with on a solo basis, such as finding a treat under a cup. If I had everyone in here to do that, it would be crazy.
The AKC Trick Dog Novice can be done in person with an evaluator, or you can send it on video. The dog needs to do ten tricks if they have not previously done the CGC. Often at dog shows, you will see the CGC offered with Trick Dog so you can do both. If your dog works better at home, the video option may be for you.
Here is a list of tricks from AKC that can be done for the Novice option. Where you see "Handler's Choice," this may be if you have a special trick not listed that you want to use. Be sure you are not using a trick from one of the more advanced levels or it wll limit your choice when you get there.
You may find that one of your dogs is not very interested in learning tricks. Daphne is particularly stubborn though I still offer it to her as an option and occasionally she will surprise me. She will only do it if she REALLY wants the treat or if she completely thinks it is her idea, and she will not do it for a video. I have other dogs who really love to do the tricks, like Maverick. While a challenge with Daph, it is much more fun to train with a dog who really wants to do it. The style of training I use is positive - I'm not going to make her do it if she does not want to. I would rather train with a dog who enjoys it.
If you would like to see our evaluation videos for Ava and Kobe, I have htem on Ava and Kobe's pages on my Terlingua website. I will be posting the training videos here as we work on the new titles and when we get to the evaluation videos for the dogs who are going for the titles, I will post them here too.