At BFF Pet Services our philosophy has always been that dogs need more than obedience. And while we do offer a wide variety of classes, trick training is one of the most popular classes we offer. Trick training is the one class that benefits both the dog and the handler the most. But tricks are actually just behaviors. And most typically, they are behaviors that cannot be trained using compulsion-based methods. The best training method for tricks is positive reinforcement.
Throughout our trick classes, we see our clients develop a better understanding of how to elicit behaviors from their dogs. It really helps our clients not only understand their dog better, but it also helps to understand how to train on their own after they leave the classroom.
Trick Training vs Obedience Training
We firmly believe that the first thing we need to do with a dog that is new to our home, be it a puppy, adolescent, or an adult, is obedience training. As owners, we need to have a strong foundation to work from. And obedience is that first building block. We see a lot of pet owners place a lot of stress on themselves, trying to get the behaviors right. They want that picture perfect dog. But that dog takes lots of work. A dog with advanced obedience skills doesn’t get there overnight. Trick training seems to take that pressure off of the owners. They can see their dog have rapid success, doing small behaviors. There is a lot of laughter and cheering during tricks classes. And for the dog, that also takes the pressure away. While trick training, dogs receive a high rate of reinforcement for their actions. It creates a positive experience for both the owner and the dog. It is often where we see people forming great relationships with their dogs. And, it is also where we see owners begin to develop and polish their own skills as a trainer.
In the words of trainer Dee Hart, “A well-trained dog can still do a lot of bad dog stuff.” A dog with obedience training that still offers bad behaviors at home can be one of the most frustrating things for an owner. Just because a dog understands sit and stay and has had some worked on impulse control, does not mean they are going to be a well-behaved dog. Most dogs need a job and in the absence of the owner providing that job, they will find one of their own. I get it, we work long hours and have busy lives. When the weather isn’t cooperating and you don’t have the space to exercise your dog, it can leave some without options. We aren’t all made for challenging weather conditions. Trick training is the one discipline for dogs that can be done in a relatively small space. It forces the dog to think as they work. And since we know dogs don’t use their cognitive thinking skills as much as their natural instincts, we can often find our dogs exhausted from a single training session because they are exercising an area of their brain that is used the least.
The training programs we offer assist owners with other areas of their life and interests they have with their dogs. We offer the chance to earn titles with dogs from Novice all the way through Trick Dog Grand Champion. Many of our clients have found themselves exploring the opportunity to perform with their dogs, both locally as well as on set for film and commercials. Some of the trick behaviors can be used to help owners perform simple tasks that are geared toward service dogs. And we often teach dogs tricks that are otherwise shy and unwilling to participate in typical classes. Tricks can help grow a dog’s confidence. And yes, our primary focus has always been obedience training. But some owners want and need more with their dogs.
We are extremely proud of our trainers that have developed their own unique sessions through both in person and online courses. Trainer, Dee Hart, has developed our program from the ground up for our in-person trick classes. She is our master trainer for all the titling programs. Dee Hart has made quite a name for herself in the industry and has been recognized as All Star Trick Dog Trainer of the year. Through her programs, Trainer, Dee Hart is nearing 1,000 titles earned with her clients. Her clients have had a wide variety of success of their own and have helped to contribute to our local community, performing tricks at various venues throughout Southern Maryland. Trainer Dee is a favorite of many of our clients looking to pursue trick training.
Likewise, Trainer, Chrissy Joy, is known for her successes with The Joy Crew. She has also received numerous awards for her performances with her own dogs and she has worked hard to develop a career in the animal acting industry where her dogs have appeared in feature films, print ads, commercials and made countless television appearances. Chrissy has developed our online trick training program where clients can access her expertise across the country, right from their home.
Beyond the business of dog training, we believe in offering clients the opportunity to have fun with their dogs.