Originally published Monday, August 26, 2019 at 10:06p.m.

The Blackpak and I just returned from an educational and stimulating event in Tucson. Debbi Decker came to town to show us all how to teach our dogs to do wonderful tricks, including saluting, working at a distance from us, praying and a bunch of funny things that would entertain anyone from school children to a group of senior citizens.

Decker has been training and competing in a variety of dog sports for many years, including conformation, obedience, rally and agility.

A few years ago, she began competing in Canine Musical Freestyle, which is moving to music with your dog, and has won many top honors. Her dogs have also appeared in TV commercials.

Decker’s message is to find the best way to get the dog to perform a particular trick, using a variety of methods, primarily treats and then get these moves on cue. Once on a verbal cue, the dog will be happy to show the trick off to anyone who might be watching.

Her words of wisdom when teaching are: Train, trust and test. Those things that you train must be reinforced on a regular basis, although when a dog has properly learned a move, generally he will remember if forever.

Her other words of wisdom, which apply to anything, from curbing excess barking to pulling on the leash and much more are: Consistent, persistent and insistent. These are wonderful words to keep in mind in our everyday interactions with our pups.

One of the tricks she taught - stick a post-it note above the dogs eyes. He will use a paw to remove it, and when he has his paw in position, praise and treat. When he has the move fairly perfected, put a word to it - like salute or some such. You can see Decker working with her dogs at: Debbi 3053 U Tube.

This seminar was intended to: Discover your dog’s hidden talents and enhance the bond between you and your dog.

Our dogs love receiving our attention. Any kind of positive training can achieve this goal. Trick training is just fun for the dogs and for us and our dogs love to show off these tricks to anyone who will watch, particularly if some wonderful treats are involved.

A couple of hot weather reminders and tips: Have a couple of water bowls available to your pets. It is amazing how much water they can consume - which should serve as a reminder to us also that we need to drink lots of water every day. Besides the water bowl in the kitchen, be sure to have one outside the back door and maybe even in the bedroom, if the dogs by chance sleep in there - Imagine such a thing!

It is important to wash out those water dishes and fill them fresh each morning. But be sure to check them during the day. So often I find them close to empty, not a good thing.

And don’t forget the chicken or turkey baby food in a jar. Freeze it overnight and pull it out in the heat of the day. I give it to them out on the deck, but you can be sure there is never a drop spilled. They love it. I am still trying to find something wonderful with which to refill these jars. Rice cakes mixed with cottage cheese or cream cheese, unsalted peanut butter and some plain yogurt would be a good place to start. When my guys are finished with the jars, you would not need to wash them, (though you would) because they are so thoroughly clean.

And do not forget those ever important walks, even though it is hot. This too shall pass!

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at cpowerspak@gmail.com.