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Book Review
Agility Tricks by Donna Duford
Review by: Kate Connick, Jan. 2003

Donna Duford's Agility Tricks is a 61-page booklet that offers instructions on how to train several tricks, ostensibly to improve focus and reduce stress prior to entering the agility ring. In truth, the tricks in this little booklet have general appeal and are just as much fun for the agility nonparticipant to train.

The focus is on nine dog tricks, as follows: touch (targeting), beg, bow, spin, weave (through a person's legs), wave, crawl, roll over, and back up. Additionally, comments regarding training in general are offered, and these are some of the best pages in print on the topic of positive reinforcement training.

What makes the content of this booklet special is that it explains and advocates positive reinforcement training (i.e., clicker training) without becoming mired in unnecessary verbiage, editorializing or moralizing. Duford writes exceptionally well. This concise, explanatory booklet offers instructions that are simple, clear, and palatable.

The author stresses that different techniques work best for different dogs and implores the reader to be flexible until they hit on what works best for their own dog. Each trick is described, and suggestions are given for how to elicit the behaviors involved. It all boils down to various ways of prompting, shaping, and/or capturing the desired behaviors, as well as sufficiently motivating and rewarding the dog. Black and white photos clearly illustrate the tricks and the teaching process. I have no doubt that any reader could train these nine tricks based soley on the directions put forth in this booklet.

Given its small size and very limited scope, this booklet is quite pricey. Nonetheless, it makes for an enjoyable read. This booklet would be a great gift for any dog lover who enjoys training and would take pleasure in adding some new tricks to their repertoire.

Agility Tricks by Donna Duford.
Published by Clean Run Productions, 1999. ISBN: 1892694026

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