Thursday, September 7, 2023

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

 During the height of the pandemic we spent a lot of time isolating at home.  Many of us began working from home, and travel restrictions were put in place.  Even going to the movies or grocery store was considered a risk.  It was a time of constant worry and stress, and for many, a very lonely experience.  But for those of us with companion animals it wasn’t quite as bad, and for our pets, it was a very happy time.  All the activities that typically separate us from our animals, such as work, school, sports and vacations, were no longer an issue.

I know my own collies were never happier, as I was home with them 24/7!  And the bonus of my being home all the time, was all the walks we took, just to get out of the house.  Unfortunately, one of the activities we all enjoyed was also canceled.  There were no dog shows!  One thing the AKC did to help mitigate the loss was to begin allowing the Trick Dog test to be performed by video.  With unlimited time together, my collies and I began to train and learn dog tricks, so they could earn a new title.  It was a unique way to bond and have fun with my collies, and it kept us all from becoming too bored.

With the slow, gradual return to “normal,” AKC is now allowing the test to be done in person or virtually, it is the individual’s choice.  If you want to do the test virtually, you can find a trick dog evaluator on the AKC website or by joining the Facebook group, Trick Dog Titles. To do the test in person, you can search for upcoming tests here.  To earn the Trick Dog title your dog must perform each trick twice.  There are five levels of Trick Dog titles, we have only passed the Novice level so far.

  • AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN)- Your dog performs 10 skills from the Novice list. (see link to “Application” below for lists of skills). If a dog has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate or title on record at AKC, it can do 5 Novice tricks (CGC + 5) to earn the Novice title. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Intermediate Trick Dog (TKI) – Your dog must have the Novice title, plus perform 10 Intermediate tricks. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Advanced Trick Dog (TKA) – Your dog must have the Intermediate title, plus perform 10 tricks from the Advanced list. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Trick Dog Performer (TKP) – In this title, handlers perform a short routine with at least 10 tricks with at least 3 tricks using props. See the requirements here.
  • AKC Trick Dog Elite Performer (TKE) – In the highest level of Trick Dog, the Elite Performers perform a routine that has a story/script. At least 5 props are used. See the requirements here.

We had so much fun earning the TKN title, and I think we are going to try earning TKI next!  The collies all strongly recommend you give this a try with your dog, and if you do, please come back and let us know  in the comments.  As this is a fun activity the collies easily mastered, we decided to add it to our Versatility series, to show the amazing versatility of the collie breed. Want to see the other posts in our Versatile Collie series? Click on the links below:

Therapy dogs
Service dogs
K9 nose work
Pulling a Sulky (AKA Carting)


  1. Congratulations on the new title, that's super cool. Oh yea, lots of pups and kitties were super happy having the peeps around full time during the pandemic. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

  2. It sure looks like the pups were having fun. Getting lots of treats probably helped. We think you need to find a much bigger box for Ryder and all his fluff. BOL!

  3. Lulu: "Congratulations! That sounds like it was a lot of fun!"
    Java Bean: "Ayyy, I would like to learn tricks! Three-card monte? The shell game? Seems like a good way to earn some green papers!"
    Lulu: "I don't think those are the kinds of tricks they do ..."

  4. I hope you can hear us applauding. Great job - all of you!

  5. Congratulations! What good doggies!