Friday, May 30, 2014

DVD Review: Teaching Your Dog to Skateboard (trick, dog)

EverythingDogBlog #170: Trick Dog? Trick Dog!

You DO have a trick dog!

If you can teach your dog to SIT, you can teach your dog to skateboard

Chances are that your dog sits when you ask him to. Did you teach him to do that or did he teach himself? Regardless, if he learned to sit, he can learn to skateboard.
Years ago I was working at a shelter and one day I was showing a lovely dog to a family in the Meet and Greet room. I gave the dog a hand signal to SIT while we were talking and the next thing I knew, the 9 year-old-boy exclaimed, "Look, Mom, Dad. He knows tricks!"
Well, folks, it's all tricks.
It's all Tricks!
SIT and DOWN are tricks to your dog. So are SPIN and SIT PRETTY. The only difference is that when he does a trick (SPIN, e.g.) people think he's really talented and special (which he is).
Teaching a dog to skateboard is one of the easy tricks that dogs love and people are amazed at. Here's a DVD that teaches you to teach your dog to skateboard. Bill Ryan, the dog trainer in the DVD also teaches skateboarding classes. And, as a matter of fact, I will be teaching a dog to skateboard next week. I'll let you know how it goes with this lab.
Teaching Your Dog to Skateboard*, Bill Ryan (video by Tawzer Dog**, produced by Legacy Canine, 2005, 30 minutes, $24, DVD)
Clear and Easy to Understand – For Whom?
There’s nothing like a short video that’s both affordable and clear (and just the right length)!
This DVD is for the average dog person who wants to teach an entertaining trick or for the new dog trainer who wants to learn how to teach a stunning trick that looks complex but is astonishingly simple if taught in small steps (two, as a matter of fact).
Demo the Method First then Teach a Naïve Dog
Bill Ryan first teaches the skill with his own cocker spaniel who already knows how to skateboard: therefore, Ryan begins with a short demo. Then he teaches a naïve 6-month-old dog.
Lesson for trainers (and you): First demonstrate on a dog who already knows the behavior, thus teaching the human; then, use the same method on a naïve dog, proving it works.
First, . . . .
The first step is to ensure the dog will not be afraid of the skateboard by pairing coming to you for a treat with getting on the skateboard in order to reach the treat. Ryan thus starts by setting the stage and preventing any errors.
How-To: The Two-Step Method
Ryan, sitting with his back to the wall with the skateboard between his legs, lures the dog onto the skateboard (with three paws) then tosses a treat to reposition the dog and give him another chance to succeed.
The second step is to stand up, bracing the skateboard to prevent sudden movement and again luring the dog on, gradually allowing the board to move forward.
That’s all there is to it! Dogs clearly love skateboarding (and food).
Helpful Hints and Troubleshooting
Ryan goes over the cue, “Three (three legs on board),” trouble-shooting a couple of potentialities, and emphasizes how to get the dog to increase speed, thus putting the board in forward motion as he jumps on for a wild ride.
The Rest of the Story
After the teaching demo and teaching a naïve dog, the DVD films an owner teaching her own dog to skateboard and finishes with Ryan beginning to teach a puppy.
Ryan demonstrates how forgiving our dogs are of our amateur training ability and how flexible they are in learning despite our slowness (food is the ‘glue’). He successfully teaches dogs while explaining to the viewer (much harder than it looks - to do two things at once) though in places a voice-over would have been good to prevent silences and to reinforce the narrative. 
Although a whitish JRT and a brown dog star, most of the dogs are blackish cockers against a black floor; however, the DVD is still very clear (thanks to Tawzer’s professional videoing) and easy to see everything. And finally, some minor ineptness could have been avoided and the lesson learned more quickly had Ryan used a clicker while luring.
Final minutes show Ryan walking along with his cocker who is skateboarding out 'on the town' and - two cockers on one skateboard – something to strive for!
*This is the title on the DVD package and the DVD. When viewing, you will see How To Teach Your Dog To Skateboard. 
**The DVD can be purchased at
(This first appeared on throughout Maryland on 30 May 2014.)

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