Let me just put this out there… Buster is naughty and nice. Yep, he’s both, and usually he’s both at almost the same time. It’s okay though. I find his naughty-ness spunky and refreshing, and it keeps me on my toes. Sometimes I wonder if my dog training clients are horrified of me or are questioning who the heck did they just give their money to. A lot of my explanations for things go something like… “The relax mat is an essential tool! I started using it with my own dog when he was driving me bonkers and trying to jump into my lap while I’m working on the computer.” Or, “Make sure you get plenty of food/treat puzzles and toys. They’re great for when you’re cooking dinner and can’t keep an eye on your dog and are worried they’ll otherwise be in the other room eating their bed.” It’s like I have experience with these two particular things, huh. So many people want practically robotic, perfectly behaved dogs these days. They want their dog to be a perfect, calm dog in the household and have an excellent recall for off-leash hikes. They want their dog to love everyone and everything. They want their dog to accept a toddler crawling all over him and not protest. They want their dog to be the perfect traveling companion who is quiet in the car and settles easily in a hotel. Perfectly behaved, practically robotic dogs don’t exist. Well, they do, but the dogs I’ve seen whose owners claim they are that unicorn are lackluster in their personality and usually afraid of taking a wrong step and getting shocked by their e-collar or corrected.
Meanwhile, Buster will eat his bed if I haven’t exercised or played or trained with him enough. He will steal my socks if I drop them and then run under the bed and guard them as if they are the most precious thing in this world. He will bark at dogs that look at him the wrong way. If you’re a stranger who approaches him too quickly, he’ll let you know by lunging at you. When I take him to training club and the toy/distraction bin is open, he will jump INSIDE of it and grab whatever he can like a kid in a candy shop.
He sounds like a monster, and despite me lovingly calling him that sometimes, he’s not. Only I can call him that in a loving way, and I would probably fight anyone who seriously called him that. Despite all of the naughty-ness, he is perfect. He has taught me everything I know about dog training. And after reading that last paragraph, you’re probably thinking I don’t know anything about dog training, right? Well, I do. If I see him eating his bed, I realize I screwed up and immediately take him outside to do some work or give him a puzzle toy to cure his boredom. If I drop a sock and he runs under the bed with him, I’m easily able to get it from with a pretty solid “trade” cue. He hasn’t reacted at a dog or a stranger on a walk in ages, because we’ve worked on it so much. But, if I’m slow and not on my A training game and he has had some trigger stacking, sure, he’ll react. Sometimes I leave the toy bin at club open just because, honestly, it’s funny to see him drag out all of the things. We’ll then “trade” and leave the things on the floor and use them as distractions as we heel and do some stay work.
Buster is a small, wrinkly, 35lb, innocent looking dog, but my god, does he pack a playful naughty and nice punch, and I love him for it. I love him for everything he has taught me. He is basically the equivalent of a working line, high energy, destructive dog in a tiny, cuter package. He has taught me everything. He has taught me how to have a sense of humor in training. He has taught me to not take myself or our training too seriously. I know how to train various sports because of him. I know how to train reactive and aggression issues because of him. I know how to make traveling with a dog easier because of him. I know how to train calming behaviors because of him. Basically everything I know about dog training is because of him.
So, this is a gentle reminder to remember that dogs aren’t robots. They are all at least a little naughty and nice, and that’s fine. That’s the way they are supposed to be. No one is saying to let your dog destroy all of the drywall in your house or eat your arm off, but the next time they’re annoying you, ask yourself if you’ve exercised or played with them enough. The next time they break their stay, ask yourself if you set them up for failure by asking them to stay among a group of people with food on the floor when you haven’t practiced stays in over a month.
Is your dog more naughty or nice?
The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier, Travels with Barley and Wag ‘n Woof Pets. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below.
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…