Trick or Treat? Why Choose Just One?

By Pam Davis, CGC and Trick Dog Evaluator

Trick Dog events are one of the AKC’s fastest growing programs and Cairns love to perform tricks. Is there a trick dog living in your home? If you have a Cairn Terrier the answer is YES! Easy and fun, teaching a dog tricks can be rewarding for both you and your dog. Getting started is simply training your dog to perform basic tasks—sit, lay down, do a high five, stay. That’s just the beginning. Jump on a platform, jump through a hoop, climb in a box, shake hands, go in your crate, run through a tunnel—that’s 10 tricks and you have your Trick Dog Novice title. If your dog has a Canine Good Citizen title, she only needs to perform five of those behaviors!

Now that you’re hooked and have a TKN after your dog’s name, it’s time to work on the next titles. The Trick Dog Intermediate (TKI) and Advanced (TKA) titles each require 10 new tricks. The intermediate level tricks are a bit more difficult but certainly, after spending a little time training, your Cairn will be able to carry a small basket, ring a bell, roll over, weave through your legs. A favorite of mine is the shell game—finding a treat hidden under one of three cups. A complete listing of the requirements and suggested tricks can be found on the AKC website. org/sports/trick-dog/resources/trick-dog-applications/

Daisy Learning to Skateboard
Daisy Learning to Skateboard

Advanced tricks become more complex but by this time your Cairn is willing to learn anything! How handy would it be for your dog to pull a tissue out of a box and bring it to you or jump up into your arms or over your back. Can your dog walk backwards, put away their toys or take your shoes off? These behaviors are easy to teach with a little patience and a lot of praise.

Kyra Sundance, a world class trick show performer, has written several books on teaching dog Tricks. In 101 Dog Tricks and 51 Puppy Tricks, Kyra explains, step by step, how to work with your dog. Another handy resource that I use is an app called Puppr— Dog Training and Tricks. With this loaded on your phone or iPad you can work on new tricks when you travel with your dog!

My Cairn Terrier “Daisy” began her Trick dog career in the Kyra Sundance program “Do More with your Dog” several years ago. The titles were transferred to AKC titles. At that time the Trick Dog Performer level required sending the AKC a video of your dog doing a “performance” of at least 10 tricks that told a story. I reworked a children’s book by PD Eastman titled I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words.

I’ll Teach my Cairn a lot of Tricks

(AKC Performer Trick Dog Story)

The first 2 tricks I’ll teach my pup are shake my hand and back it up. I’ll teach her spin and twist and then, sit in a box and give me ten!

She’ll go up steps, and turn around, she’ll come back down to the ground She’s learning fast, it’s really great. We’re already up to eight!

She’ll jump through hoops and through my arms, roll out a mat and hit alarms. My dog is learning read a sign, and play a tune, she’s doing fine.

She’ll figure eight across a bar, and through my legs, Wow, What a star! One more time, she will come through. Oh, my word, its peek a boo!

I’ll teach my dog a lot of tricks, and how my friends will cheer

My Cairn will learn a lot more tricks. We’ll show you those next year! 

Daisy performed all the tricks beautifully and took a bow afterwards! She now has a TKP title after her name! She also has a very proud handler!

So, the next time your Cairn wants to play, teach her a trick or two. Before you know it, you can earn a title. Give it a try and you’ll see that training your dog to do tricks can be a real treat!