Have you ever been to a Dachshund Derby race? If not, you really don’t know what you’re missing. They’re not fierce competitors but they are certainly fun to watch. Each trainer has his or her own tips for training a Weiner dog racer, that they hope will bring their dog to the finish line first – or even to the finish line at all.
Dachshunds can move fast, but racing is not really their thing. When the starting gate goes up on a starting box, some run, some wander and some stand around sniffing their neighbors. But it’s all in good fun. The Dachshund Club of America is opposed to the races, because of the possibility of back injuries, and because they think it will become a betting sport and then slower Dachshunds will be euthanized, like slow Greyhounds are now. But the Doxie owners just do it for fun, and the funds raised are used for charitable purposes. No one bets, but there is an admission fee.
To train a Weiner dog for racing, owners use words that their dogs will associate with treats, like “cookie” or “yummy”. Once their dogs know that word well, and are reinforced with treats, they can use the word at the finish line and hope that will be where their dog runs when the starting gate opens. It’s practiced so much that many dogs will indeed make it to the finish line – for a treat.
In training a Weiner dog racer, owners start slowly and use small distances first, working their dogs up to the 25-50 meters used in races. They will have an owner at one end of their practice track and a friend at the other end, and play with moving toys, so that their dog will know it’s a fun game. If they do run in the general direction of the finish line, they are lavishly praised and petted. Oh, and they get that treat.
If the trainer’s dog begins trotting, praise is used for that, too. They use more treats than they normally would, so that their dogs understand that this training is special. They also allow their Dachshunds to run in the fenced yard at home, and then open the door and call them. If they come right away, they get a nice treat. Some dogs will even do it just to see their favorite person, even if he doesn’t have a treat.
Most owners have treats in their pockets on race day. They head to the finish line, making sure that their dog sees where they are, and they shake treats in their pocket with their “yummy” word. Weiner dogs like to run and play, and half of them don’t cross the finish line, but it’s a fun time for dogs, owners and children alike.