If you and your dog love learning new tricks, becoming an American Kennel Club (AKC) Trick Dog would be a fun bonding activity for both of you to enjoy. The great news is that any dog, not just purebreds, can earn AKC Trick Dog Titles; mixed breed rescue dogs are not excluded. If you are considering training your dog to earn AKC Trick Dog Titles, this article will offer the information you need to get started.
What Is An American Kennel Club (AKC) Trick Dog?
An AKC Trick Dog is a dog who is very well trained and registered with the AKC who has been evaluted in person or virtually and earned titles based upon the training and tricks they know. Any dog can earn the AKC Trick Dog Title, not just purebred dogs with AKC lineage, by registering with AKC Canine Partners.
How To Get Your Dog Started Earning American Kennel Club Trick Dog Titles
The AKC Trick Dog program is one of the easiest to get started in. You could even start by training with your dog today if you have high value treats, such as diced hot dogs or chicken ready to go. Here is a link to training videos provided by the AKC for aspiring Trick Dogs to help you get started.
In addition to training, you must ensure your dog is eligible to become an official AKC Trick Dog. The eligibility requirements are discussed further below.
Once your dog is eligible and has learned the required tricks, you must complete the necessary forms for your dog to be considered for the title you are pursuing, then submit them with the required fees.
Then he or she must be evaluated either in person or virtually for the title you are pursuing. The virtual evaluations make earning Trick Dog titles at home possible, which allows you to participate safely during the pandemic and at a time that works best for your schedule.
American Kennel Club Trick Dog Eligibility Requirements
While you are free to begin training your puppy or dog at any time to be an AKC Trick Dog, for your dog to officially earn an AKC Trick Dog Title, he or she must meet the below requirements to get started:
- A dog must be at least four months old.
- A dog must have an AKC number by one of the following methods: AKC Registration Number, Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) or Canine Partners.
American Kennel Club Trick Dog Titles
To earn an AKC Trick Dog Title, you must submit an application with the application fee, then be evaluated either in person or virtually. Each AKC Trick Dog Title is discussed below to help you understand what tricks are required at each level.
AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN)
Your dog must be observed by a CGC Evaluator successfully performing 10 tricks from the list of accepted AKC Trick Dog tricks for the novice level. If your dog has earned the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate, this certificate counts as 5 of the required tricks, referred to as “CGC + 5”. The tricks your dog may perform for this title are found here on the Novice checklist.
AKC Intermediate Trick Dog (TKI)
Your dog must first earn the Novice title, then perform 10 of the Intermediate level tricks found here on the Intermediate trick checklist.
AKC Advanced Trick Dog (TKA)
Your dog must first earn the novice and intermediate titles, then be observed by a CGC Evaluator successfully performing 10 tricks from the list of advanced level tricks. CGC certification is not required for this title.
AKC Trick Dog Performer (TKP)
Your dog must first earn the novice, intermediate and advanced titles, then be observed by a CGC Evaluator successfully performing 10 tricks from each of those titles, and must include at least 2 Intermediate Tricks and 2 Advanced Tricks. CGC certification is not required. The Performer check list can be found here.
AKC Trick Dog Elite Performer (TKE)
This is the highest title available in the AKC Trick Dog program. Elite Trick Dogs perform a scripted training routine with 5 props and they must successfully perform 5 tricks from the AKC Trick Dog Performer Title. The Elite Performer trick list can be found here.
All you need to get started with trick dog training is time, patience and high value treats like cut up hot dogs. Preparing for these titles with your dog is a great way to bond and offer your dog mental stimulation.
One of the great things about the AKC Trick Dog program is its inclusivity; earning AKC Trick Dog titles is within reach of any dog owner with a dog who loves training.
Achieving this level of training also makes dogs more adoptable, so it is great to pursue these titles with a foster dog who is awaiting his or her forever home.