Day 52 Your Favourite Trick

Welcome to Day 52 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!



At a glance:

  • trick-training is often approached differently and thought of differently
  • there’s no such thing as “just a trick”
  • it’s ALL tricks to the dog
  • trick-behaviours can be used to teach all sorts of applicable behaviours and skills for all sorts of situations
  • get the family involved in this one – children can be great dog trainers with lots of guidance, and lots of these behaviours are child-friendly, and make maintaining the peace with kids and K9s easier.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • training exercises can be practiced in individual sessions of no more than 30 seconds at a time; have as many sessions as you can!

What do you need?

  • food rewards – you can use your dog’s regular food, a training mix, commercial treats, home prepared treats such as cut up meats, cheese, vegetables or homemade treats such as liver or tuna cake
  • toys or access to anything that your dog will work for

I am not a massive ‘trick training’ fan. But, I do love the enthusiasm and lightness that people bring to teaching trick behaviours – it’s seen as frivolous and fun…all teaching should be approached in the same way because it’s all tricks to the dogs.

Enrichment Goals:

Teaching simple behaviours, without the pressure of OBEDIENCE, brings benefits to both ends of the lead.

For the dog:

  • confidence & relationship building
  • mental exercise
  • appropriate physical outlets, rehab & conditioning
  • fun, positive associations with training
  • more relaxed approach to training
  • break up duration behaviours
  • might improve the image of a dog
  • the dog learns how to learn – this is just another puzzle to your dog…”how do I train the human to make rewards available?!“…it’s all human training, for dogs!
  • to teach the dog that their human will ask for behaviour and will make sure reinforcement is available – this reduces stress by improving predictability and controlability

For the human:

  • lots of practical applications to real life situations
  • might facilitate diversions, stress-reduction, focus & engagement, managing behaviour
  • fun, positive associations with training
  • improved approach to training
  • more relaxed approach to training
  • involve kids in teaching appropriate tricks
  • improves trainer skills – mechanical skills, observation skills, planning
  • learn how your dog learns

While training exercises certainly fall into the cognitive enrichment category, they can provide so much more.

Providing dogs with cues allows for a complex level of communication between two species; you are merely requesting that the dog perform behaviour (he might already know how to do the behaviour) and that request comes with a contract. Respond appropriately to this signal and rewards are coming your way. That’s the deal…that’s what being a good teacher is about – keeping your word and making it easy for your dog to train you.

This forges the most healthy of relationships between our two species. This is a level of social enrichment that’s tricky to replicate.

When we talk about enrichment being enriching, this is never more clear than when we start to teach behaviours intentionally. It’s the human’s job to set the dog up for success by making sure the behaviour is doable and that rewards are fast-flowing.

There’s no test at the end of this and you and your pet are not under any pressure. Learn to enjoy the time together, whether you achieve the goal behaviour or not. That’s what’s enriching here…the social and cognitive outlets such exercises provide (for both species).

What goals can you add to this list for your pets?

How can we achieve these goals?

  • although you can use any reward that your dog will work for, using small food rewards that are quick to eat are best for these exercises so we can have lots of fast repetitions
  • keep it simple and split behaviour – reward approximations toward the final behaviour, rather than hoping that your dog will offer the goal behaviour quickly
  • take your time and work in many short sessions
  • try for 30 seconds at a time, 5-10 rewards each session, and then take a break
  • portion out your dog’s daily food and allot some for training exercises


  • make a training mix by adding in something yummier and leaving it all to ‘cook’ together in the fridge; the smells will mingle, harder foods will soften a little, and everything will become more valuable


  • remember to adjust your pet’s diet accordingly to accommodate the extra calories from treats added, where relevant
  • split your food rewards into little bowls with just the right number of rewards in each bowl so that you are ready to go; stick bowls of rewards in places where you may need to teach and reward behaviours so that you have rewards ready to go


If you are feeding wet or fresh foods, cut up small or mash to a paste and present on a wooden spoon or spatula. Alternatively you can freeze in small ice cube trays or a pyramid baking tray so that you can use small portions and individual treats.


What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of trick behaviours

I prefer to approach tricks from the applicable point of view. How can these behaviours offer real-life benefits?

What behaviours can I teach, with a tricks-attitude, that really benefit the dog’s experience?

We’ve talked lots about targeting already – this forms the basis for some of the best and most applicable ‘tricks’.

Managing behaviour – for stress related behaviours:

  • head turns (divert behaviour, prevent hard-staring, diffuse tension, conditioning & rehab, re-focus, move and position the dog, maintain position, husbandry training) – nose targeting, diffuse and divert
  • middle/’peek-a-boo’ (we are going to work on this later in the #100days)
  • circle the handler, walk behind
  • hand targets for re-focus
  • chin targets for calming and resetting
  • nose targeting to teach LLW, focused walking, competition heeling
  • nose targeting for recall

Moving & positioning:

  • hand targets, chin targets
  • body targeting
  • perch work, pedestal work, platform work
  • moving around an item
  • moving to a target
  • maintain position for husbandry training

Conditioning, fitness, rehab work:

  • hand targets, chin targets, foot targeting, body targeting e.g. hip/shoulder targeting
  • perch work, pedestal work, platform work
  • moving around an item, to a target
  • rear end awareness & improved body awareness
  • sit pretty, paws up, walk/move on hind legs
  • bows, crawling

Husbandry training:

  • hand targets, chin targets
  • foot targeting
  • body targeting e.g. hip/shoulder targeting – to move and maintain position
  • roll over, play dead, paws up

Retrieving items:

  • picking up items
  • tug items
  • tidy away items
  • assistance dog type behaviours
    For example, close doors, pick up/place items, take socks off, empty washing machine etc.

Enrichment Options

Today is for tricks your dog already knows and ones that you love to practice with them. What fun and simple behaviour will you and your pet practice today?

Need some inspiration? We’ve written and filmed plans for teaching some fun and simply tricks here, check it out!

Have fun, take the pressure off and remember, it’s all tricks to the dogs!

Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!