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Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance

Kyra Sundance's 101 Dog Tricks is big, pretty, and filled with photographs. This is a start-anywhere sort of book, its' basically a dictionary of dog tricks. The training methods demonstrated are fun and force-free, and the information is fast and accessible. Suitable for brand new dog owners up through experts, the book can be used as anything from a training bible to a source of ideas.

book of dog tricks and training ideas
Photo by Erin Koski
Kyra Sundance is also the entrepreneur behind Do More With Your Dog, the titling organization for dog tricks. She travels around the country doing demos and classes, and her breed of choice is Weimeraners, oddly enough. Her dogs are prominently featured in the book, but there are many other breeds as well.

This is a 208-page book, and each trick gets at least one page. The tricks start out simple, with groundwork behaviors like 'sit'. Each trick includes step-by-step instructions for teaching it, along with the behaviors your dog needs to know ahead of time, training tips, and troubleshooting help if your team isn't quite getting it.

I find 101 Dog Tricks to be a rather utilitarian book. It has a couple of pages on basic training technique, and tons of pretty pictures, but the trick instructions can be a bit sparse. There's the step-by-step, and usually a troubleshooting tip, but for the most part it reads like "do this, and your dog should do that, if he doesn't, try doing this instead". Sometimes I end up going "Welp, my dog didn't do that, so now what?" My favorite example is attempting to teach Sisci Godzilla to jump over my back by holding up a jump bar. She instantly decided that zooming under the bar was the best thing ever, and it must have been somehow inherently rewarding because she keeps doing it despite my desperate lack of reinforcement. Sometimes it makes agility class very interesting.

That said, it's a fun book. It's a going and doing book, not a sitting and reading book, if that makes sense. You can flip to any page, get an idea, and run off to train your dog. I think that makes it less daunting, there's not a ton of information to absorb. If you and your dog aren't getting one trick, turn the page and try another one. 

I get most of my trick training ideas and tips from various groups online. The entire reason I purchased this book was because I wanted to earn trick dog titles. These can be earned by submitting videos and sending in an application, but the tricks listed on the forms are really quite vague. 101 Dog Tricks acts as a reference so you can figure out what "my dog can count" actually entails.
 Brisbane and Godzilla both got their Novice Trick Dog titles, complete with big fancy certificates and letters after their names. I have everything I need to send in the information for their novice and advanced titles, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. 

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