Rising star and dog trainer Alexa Lauenburger from Germany is no stranger to the limelight.
She won Das Supertalent (Germany’s equivalent of Got Talent) in 2017 (aged just nine!), received a “golden buzzer” from Ant & Dec on Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions in 2019 and just last week made her US debut, appearing on America’s Got Talent: Champions.
Now to top it all, she has set three Guinness World Records titles. All this, and incredibly she is still only 12 years old.
For those that somehow may have missed her, Alexa’s act has nothing to do with singing or telling jokes like many of the starry-eyed rivals that regularly feature on the variety show franchise. Although she does defy the age-old showbiz rule of “never work with animals”.
During her performance, Alexa is joined on stage by no less than eight four-legged friends: Emma, Jennifer, Katy, Maya, Nala, Sabrina, Sally and Specki. Together, they put on spectacular tricks that push the boundaries of what is deemed possible to teach a pooch.
Convinced that Alexa and her talented hounds must have some records in them, a team from Guinness World Records paid a visit to northern Germany in Dec 2019 to see them in action. They were not to be disappointed.
On 8 Dec 2019, under the watchful eye of an official GWR adjudicator, Alexa and her dogs added three amazing records to their ever-growing list of triumphs.
Most dogs in a conga line: 8. This show-stopping record was achieved by Alexa and eight of her hounds (the family has 13 altogether). The first dog in the line (Sally), leaning on Alexa, had to cover a minimum distance of 5 m (16 ft 5 in) in conga formation, while the others had to maintain paw-to-back contact with the dog in front for the duration. More incredible still – although this is not part of the guidelines – the dogs arranged themselves in descending order of size!
Fastest time to jump five hurdles on hind legs by a dog: For this record, Emma was the dog that rose to the occasion – quite literally! More kangaroo than dog, she cleared five hurdles in a speedy 5.66 sec on her very first record attempt. What a pro.
Fastest 5 m backwards walk by a dog: Jennifer took centre stage in this record, which as the title suggests, involves the dog moving in reverse. The pair made it look simple, with Alexa steering her over the finish line (using just vocal commands) in a mere 6.73 sec.
Following a family tradition, Alexa first started to properly train the dogs when she was around five years old. Though apparently at the age of just one she was already attempting to give commands! It takes a lot of time and dedication to get to this level of professionalism, as Alexa told us: “We are with the dogs 24/7. As soon as I come back from school, after I’ve done my homework, I quickly eat something and go to see them. We basically spend every free minute with the dogs.
“It’s really important when you want to teach a dog to find a trick that suits the dog,” she advises.
After so much success at such a young age, how does this wunderkind feel about becoming part of the Guinness World Records family? “I am very proud of my dogs that they managed to break that many records. Back home, they will all be rewarded.
“I’m going to hang the Guinness World Records certificates in our living room!”
As for the future, Alexa knows exactly what she is aiming for: “I plan to invent new tricks and teach them to my dogs, and I hope to perform on more shows. When I’m grown up, I want to open a dog school.”
Alexa isn’t the only “dog whisperer” in the Lauenburger household. Her dad, the aptly named Wolfgang, is also a professional trainer, as well as a veteran entertainer, who actually grew up in a circus.
In fact, her father was Alexa’s main inspiration when she decided to try out a few tricks of her own. Anyone who has tried teaching a pet to perform a trick – even simple ones like “lie down” and “wait” – will know just how difficult it is getting one dog to focus on the task at hand. So imagine how hard it is to coordinate as many as eight dogs simultaneously!
When her parents saw just how good Alexa was at handling the dogs, they knew they had another talented trainer in their midst. As Wolfgang told us with great pride: “Really as a father, I can’t put into words how proud I am [of Alexa]. She won Das Supertalent, she won a prize in the UK, she won so many things... But first and foremost, she is so talented, and also she is so passionate about it… I’m so, so proud of her.”
Proving that record-breaking runs in the Lauenburger genes, Wolfgang successfully achieved two titles himself on 8 Dec 2019.
Fastest 10 m on hind legs by a dog: This one was always going to be a challenge. The existing record, achieved by Rayner Fredrick (USA) and his Cavapoo Oliver already stood at a brisk 3.21 sec, set in 2018. Emma stepped up her game once again, smashing the record with a lightning-quick dash of 3.05 sec!
Most spins by a dog in 30 seconds: With an already high mark of 32 to beat, achieved by the UK’s most prolific dog-trick record holder – Rachael Grylls – along with her Jack Russell Joe in 2019, Wolfgang and Maya had a tough act to follow. But the pair proved their mettle and completed a dizzying 43 spins in half a minute.
Guinness World Records' Animals Editor, Adam Millward, who witnessed Alexa and Wolfgang set their records first hand, was amazed by the discipline that shone through: “I was blown away the very first time I saw Alexa on Britain’s Got Talent. But seeing these tricks happen live in front of you is a whole other experience.
“You couldn’t help but get caught up in the tension of the moment – but also the pure joy of it all. From the second we walked in to be greeted by a wagonful of eight excited dogs (not something you see every day), I swear their tails did not stop wagging all day!
“As someone who is constantly on the look-out for talented animals with record-breaking potential, it was a no-brainer that Alexa and her hounds had what it takes to set a record, so it’s a pleasure to see that become a reality.
“There was never any doubt that the Lauenburger family (both its human and canine members) had ‘got talent’, but it’s fantastic to now be able to say they have also ‘got records’.”
GWR adjudicator Lena Kuhlmann, who oversaw the record attempts, was also taken aback by how deceptively easy the Lauenburgers made it look: “I thought it would be way more difficult, but the dogs were so well trained and so well behaved…
“Alexa is only 12 years old. She did a really good job. She handled the pack of dogs really well… she was the boss on her record attempts. I think she’s heading to a great career.”