Taking AKC Trick Dogs to the Next Level

  • April 14, 2018
  • By Breeder Owner Jacquelyn Watt

The new AKC Trick Dog Titles encourage dogs and owners to explore relationships and develop skills that benefit both owners and their pups. In our case it began with our two havanese dogs Raleigh (age nine) and Samba (age three) after we had completed our conformation Grand Champion and Trick Dog Advanced Titles.

We started small…with skateboarding; then added hula hoop jumping combinations plus grocery cart pushing (a toy from Walmart along with basketball slam dunking as just some of the tricks.) Our routines grew and improved and soon we were ready for audiences. Then came the real challenge.

One dog doing a trick dog show is one thing…but with two dogs the show difficulty increases exponentially. It requires a lot of preplanning to prevent two pups trying to complete the same trick at the same time and getting in each other’s way, also planning 
the tricks for each dog’s specific expertise. The pups will do what the handler tells them either via voice or hand signals….it there is a mix–up it usually isn’t the dogs fault. For example, 
two dogs can’t push the shopping cart at the same time there isn’t room and the steering becomes crazy, same with the skateboard.

Samba with her shorter more compact body is superb at any balancing act and easily bounces from platforms through suspended hula hoops and then back again to perch on the platform. Raleigh excels in listening and will perform complex tasks such as playing basketball and putting his dolly to bed with it’s bottle and a blanket. He is intuitive where Samba is reactive. A handler needs to understand the particular skill sets that best showcase each puppy performer and then incorporate them together for a cohesive performance. We are still learning.

One of the first things we learned was that the dogs need a station, so two small beach chairs served that purpose, when not working they sit in their chairs. Then each dog takes turns performing their specialties plus the duplicate tricks they both know such as tunnel work, hula hoop routines and skateboarding. It works but there is always a bobble in the program which the handler needs to accept and work into that day’s performance.

We have performed at retirement homes and now have a weekly gig at an adult daycare nearby. All of us have great fun and it is an honor to share 
the wonderful talents our dogs have with others.

Our tricks constantly keep evolving and I suspect our next trip to a toy store will be for a shopping cart big enough for Raleigh to sit in and low enough for Samba to push.