Cockers can do it all, and one of the things they love doing most is having fun with their people!
Trick training is one of the best ways to have fun and earn titles while teaching behaviors that carry over to many other performance activities.
Tricks include finding scent articles, jumping through hoops, opening the mail box and retrieving the mail, spinning around their owner, racing through weave poles, sitting/staying on wobble boards, pushing a baby’s shopping cart, or carrying a stuffed animal on their back! All of these have elements that, while entertaining on their own, are also quite useful in training for other dog sports including obedience, rally, agility, tracking, conformation, and therapy dog work.
Trick training while waiting your turn in the Group ring or while waiting in the veterinarian’s office keeps your cocker engaged and beautifully highlights their merry temperament!
There are five AKC Trick Titles you and your Cocker can earn:
- AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN)– Your cocker performs 10 skills from the Novice tricks list. If your cocker has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate or title on record at AKC, it can perform just 5 Novice tricks (CGC + 5) to earn the Novice title. See the list of tricks here. Food lures are allowed in the Novice level; food rewards are allowed at each level following correct performance ensuring a food-loving cocker’s attention.
- 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, title added in June 2018, the Elite Performers perform a routine that has a story/script. At least five props are used. This performance must be videotaped in a single “take” and submitted for judging by AKC Trick Dog Department. See the requirements here.
The goal of the Performer and Elite Performer levels is to create a routine that can entertain others.
While agility and obedience equipment may no longer be used in Performer and Elite Performer testing, the handler can design equipment that is functionally a jump or scent activity. For example, in a routine about Superman leaping over tall buildings, you can make a skyline (out of cardboard) that the dog jumps over. Rather than finding an obedience scent article, the dog can find a particular stuffed animal or clothing item that is a part of your story.
- Food lures are allowed at the Novice level; food rewards are allowed at each level following correct performance ensuring a food-loving Cocker Spaniel’s attention.
- At each subsequent level, you may not repeat tricks that were previously submitted for other titles, encouraging new skills and creativity at each level.
AKC Trick Dog Titles:
There are two ways you can earn AKC Trick Dog titles:
- Perform the tricks (from the checklist in the Title Application) in the presence of an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator. The Title Application will need to accompany the checklist for the particular title (Novice, Intermediate, etc.) for which you are applying. Each title requires a $20 payment submitted to the AKC following approval by an AKC CGC Evaluator. The Elite Performer Level requires $20 payment prior to AKC approval and is contingent upon video submission, review, and approval.
- AKC will also recognize Do More With Your Dog!™ (DMWYD) titles at Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Performer levels. Send the AKC Title Application plus the proof (e.g., certificate) of the DMWYD title being earned, such as a copy of the actual title.
The AKC’s website has resources including lists of training books and videos to encourage trick training.
Many training schools offer trick training classes which are great fun both mentally and physically and something you and your Cocker will definitely enjoy whether or not you ultimately compete for Trick Dog titles.
AKC Trick Dog Titles have been conferred since May 2017.
The following are the first Cocker Spaniels to have achieved each of the five Trick Dog Titles:
TKN: Rollicking Reps AX AXJ CGC TKP, from North Carolina
TKI: Rookie Shaup CGC TKP, from Pennsylvania
TKA: Julre Walk Right Back To Me AX AXJ OF SCN SBN RATO TKP, from Arkansas
TKP: Enchanted Little Miss Carefree CD RE OA OAJ OF SCN THD CGC TKP, from Minnesota
TKE: GCH CH Topaz Palm Beach Playboy CD BN RA CGCA TKE, from New Jersey