I love this video of a dog going performing a series of tricks and tasks. (It helps that this dog is so cute it hurts!)
The first thing I notice when I look at this video is an adorable dog performing tricks. But I also see the benefits of a dog who has had ample mental exercise. This dog looks incredibly happy as she goes through her repertoire.
Everybody knows that dogs need physical exercise but the fact that mental exercise improves dogs’ quality of life is sometimes overlooked. The joy that is so evident in the dog in this video makes her the poster child for the importance of providing dogs with lots of activities. It’s so wise to supply dogs with ample stimulation so that they are not bored, and many of us have lifestyles that make that a significant challenge. Training dogs to perform tricks is one way to accomplish this, and there are many advantages.
1. Dogs can be trained at home so there is no need to drive anywhere.
2. Tricks can be taught and practiced by working a few minutes here and a few minutes there each day, so it is easier to work into daily life than many other activities.
3. Training dogs to do tricks is often a light-hearted activity. That makes it easy to be happy and have fun while doing so, which is good for the relationship between people and dogs.
4. Dogs often receive a great deal of positive attention when practicing or performing their tricks, which makes them feel good.
5. You can post videos of your dog doing tricks on YouTube and spread the happiness around.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.