By Linda Cole
Skidboot became famous as the World’s Smartest Dog because of his amazing tricks. However, this is not the story of Skidboot and his wonderful bag of tricks. This is a story about mutual respect, understanding and love that transformed a bored and out-of-control dog into the World’s Smartest Dog.
I spoke with Skidboot’s owner, David Hartwig, and found a heartwarming story about unconditional love shared by a man and his dog. We like to think we train our dogs, but dogs can also teach us a little bit about ourselves and life.
David resides in Quinlan, Texas and lives the modest life of a farrier (a specialist in hoof care who trims, balances and shoes horse). It’s hard work and takes a steady hand and a gentle, calm demeanor around the horses. On Christmas Eve in 1992, David was working on his friend’s horses when he noticed a litter of pups in the barn. “I didn’t think you liked dogs,” David said to his friend. “I don’t. This stray female blue heeler came over here on Thanksgiving and started dropping puppies all over the yard. So I just picked them up and put them in the barn.” David hadn’t gotten his wife a Christmas present yet and decided a puppy would be perfect, so he picked one out and headed home.
Sometimes things happen in life we can’t always explain – a gut feeling that causes you to change your mind. David was half way home when he had second thoughts about the pup he had chosen. He turned around and went back to the barn. That’s when he picked out a pup standing by himself away from the other ones. At the time, David had no idea how that puppy was going to change his life.
Skidboot’s mom was a Blue Heeler, but the breed of his father was unknown. He was named after a protective boot horses wear on their hind legs to protect the area above and behind the hoof during activities like barrel racing. Skidboot was a natural at working on the ranch with David. “He did his job. He did it perfect and I didn’t have to teach him.”
By Suzanne Alicie
Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and they love to please their people. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in fact a dog of any age can learn to do tricks; it’s just a matter of how you go about teaching them. Dogs are similar to children in that they all have different personalities and even different learning styles. Some dogs love to perform and eagerly soak up any new tricks the first few times you teach them, while some may take a little more time and effort. On the other hand, there are also dogs like my Bear – she knows exactly what is expected but seems to think she can make the humans do a few tricks of their own before she will deign to lift a paw!
Repetition is the key to teaching your dog tricks, the same as with training your dog. Essentially sitting, heeling and even walking on a leash are all tricks your dog has learned. When you want to teach them to shake, beg, dance or roll over, it’s just a matter of letting them know what you want them to do, offering them a CANIDAE TidNips treat when they do it successfully, and repeating the action over and over until your dog associates a certain word or gesture with the trick.
Keep in mind that while your dog may have certain qualities of a child it is not a person and it takes time and dedication to both train and teach your dog to do tricks. Yelling or becoming upset with your dog will not help him learn a trick. First you must teach the dog the action of the trick – yes, this means you may have to get down and roll on the floor! Then you have to work on the word or gesture to make him do the trick on command. Make sure you have plenty of treats on hand and are generous with praise.
By Linda Cole
Teaching your dog basic commands is necessary to help keep them safe and well behaved. It’s important to know that your dog will come when called. Once you’ve taught him how to sit, stay, come or any of the other basic commands, consider moving on to tricks. One fun dog trick that can make things easier for you, and hopefully improve your pet’s life, is to train your dog how to ring a bell when he needs to go outside.
When you train your dog to ring a bell, it’s just like teaching any other command. Make sure you have plenty of patience and CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® dog treats. You can have your dog ringing a bell sooner than you think. This is also a good command to teach a puppy to help reduce accidents. Puppies can learn commands as long as you stay patient and consistent with them, and remember they’re still developing in mind and body.