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The Benefits of Trick Training Any Pet

We train our dogs to sit, stay and other useful behaviours. But what if we could train them to do ingenious feats?

You can! That is how the dictionary defines a “Trick”. Tricks are any behaviours that impress people. Your dog can even earn a Trick Title and letters after their name.

Trick training is fun for both dogs and owners. The behaviours learned are useful for a vet visit. Standing still on the scales, or offering a paw. They may also lead to your dog’s first acting job on a TV commercial!

Best of all, dogs love the attention and food rewards that trick training brings. Owners love seeing the continual wagging of their dog’s tail when they spend training time together.

Tricks often involve physical as well as mental exercise, making trick training great enrichment. A short session of trick training makes for an eventful dog day. The skills learned through trick training can be taken to other sports such as freestyle dog dancing and dog parkour. So much fun to be had!

Recognised dog tricks begin with behaviours such as ‘Sit
, ‘Stand and targeting. Beginner levels are designed to encourage everyone to have a go. 

The tricks increase in impressiveness to things like skipping, pushing a cart (learn how to teach your pet below), painting and even playing chess

Trick titles increase in difficulty, and are designed to be a progression of dog and trainer’s skill. A dog’s trick level increases at the same rate as its owner’s ability to train. Trick training is a great team sport for dogs and owners!

Why not have a try yourself at home with those tricks from Dogs Australia?

#1. Starter Trick - ‘Paws on my Arm’

You will need:

✔️ A clicker or marker word (‘yes’)

✔️ Lots of food rewards (small pieces of ham, sausage, BBQ chicken)

✔️ A treat pouch so rewards are quickly accessible


Paws on my Arm
Dogs Australia Starter Trick
1. Sit with your arm at your dog’s shoulder height.

2. Hold your clicker in that hand and have treats in the other.

3. Hold the treat at the height of your dog’s nose, and lure your dog towards your arm.

4. Click when a paw touches your arm

5. Reward the dog in the position you want to achieve. This position will become more rewarding.

6. Click and reward every attempt at a more successful position.

7. Use less luring each time until you can just hand signal without food to cue the trick.

8. Reward with food often!

#2. Advanced Trick - ‘Push a Shopping Trolley’

You will need:

✔️ A clicker or marker word (‘yes’)

✔️ Lots of food rewards in a treat pouch

✔️ A shopping trolley the right size for your dog. You may need to put something heavy in it to ensure it doesn’t tip.


Push a Shopping Trolley
Dogs Australia Advanced Trick
1. Ensuring the trolley won’t move, cue your dog to put its paws on the shopping trolley handle.

2. Click and reward in this position.

3. Once your dog is comfortable with its paws on the stationary trolley, let the trolley move a tiny bit.

4. Always reward the dog when his paws are on the trolley.

5. Food can be used to lure the dog forward.

6. Click and reward for increasing durations of forward movement

If you feel that you're now ready to compete, Trick Training is now a sport recognised by Dogs Australia. Introduced in 2020, it runs in all States except Tasmania. 

Discover more about what is involved here:

Enjoy challenges but not competition? If you prefer to train in your own time or don’t belong to a club, you can earn trick titles from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of home, through Do More With Your Dog. Over 100,000 titles have been awarded to dogs and other animals from 60 countries.

Beanie the sheep with his
Grand Champion Trick Rosette
There are lots of titles you and your dog can earn, ranging in difficulty. Online titles are not just for dogs. Cats, guinea pigs, horses, cows and sheep have also earned titles. 

There are currently 32 other species with trick titles through Do More With Your Dog!

Beanie the sheep has his Grand Champion Trick Title and can do 101 recognised dog tricks. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the most tricks done by a sheep in one minute.

All animals enjoy trick training!
If you're a horse lover, why not try to teach your equine how to bow?

#3. Do More With Your Dog Advanced Trick - Equine Bow

You will need:

✔️ A clicker or marker word (‘yes’)

✔️ Lots of food rewards (chopped carrot, cut lengthways then widthways)

✔️ A treat pouch so rewards are quickly accessible

✔️ A target stick (crop, fly swat, your hand)


1. Hold the target close to your horse’s nose, and click and reward for touching it.

2. Increase difficulty by holding the target to the side, up and down so your horse has to move to touch it. Click and reward.

3. Hold the target down low near your horse’s front feet. Click and reward here. A horse’s vision is not as forward-focused as ours, so your horse may lose sight of the target. Food (as a lure) can be used instead of a target.

4. Hold the target behind your horse’s front feet. Click and reward here. The goal is to have your horse reach between its front legs to touch the target.

5. If you hold the target back far enough, your horse will bring one leg backward into a lovely bow. (see lead image)

In Summary

The growth in popularity of trick training is linked to the spread of positive reinforcement as an effective and kind training method. Tricks are all done at liberty. No force is allowed. Treats are allowed in the competition ring. Treats are encouraged in online entries. 
Both the Australian Veterinary Association and the RSPCA advocate that positive reinforcement training results in improved animal welfare.

To learn more about the benefits of trick training and how to get started teaching your pet, visit

If you would like help getting started with trick training the Pet Professional Guild Australia has a database of trick trainers happy to help you. 

Membership to PPGA is free for pet owners, who are also welcome to attend the Pet Professional Guild Australia’s 2024 Biennial Conference in Sydney (14-16 June 2024).

Join a hands-on workshop on Trick Training with Any Species, run by Noeline Cassettari. Thumbelina the miniature horse and Cindy the miniature donkey will be your tutors for this session.

written by Noeline Cassettari, March 2024 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

About our writer

Noeline Cassettari began her career working as an animator for Hanna-Barbera and Walt Disney. Noeline has illustrated many children's books, created digital animations for games, and lectured in Digital Animation at tertiary level. She now lives on a farm near Sydney, Australia, with clever and adorable animals and teaches them tricks!

began clicker training in 2001 after discovering miniature horses existed and buying one! She was uncomfortable with the use of negative reinforcement and punishment traditionally used to train horses. Her search for a different answer led her to and the purchase of her first clicker.

She has since trained a donkey, fox, deer, sheep, cattle, dog, cat, chickens, peacocks, and a llama! Rose the miniature horse is the only horse in the world to have earned her Grand Champion Trick Dog title. Thumbelina the miniature horse participated in the Australian Circus Festival and appeared on Australia's Got Talent in 2019. Her Valais Blacknose pet sheep Beanie also has his Champion Masters title and can do 101 tricks!

Rose (horse) and Beanie (sheep) hold Guinness World Records for the “Most tricks done in 1 minute”.

Noelle has studied animal training with Terry Ryan and is a KPA Certified Training Partner and a Certified Trick Dog Instructor with Do More for Your Dog.

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