Before Silas and I start our next round of training, I wanted to talk about where we are right now. No judgment, although some of it is hardly great. I’m just pulling these topics out of my hat–if you think of a great, objective criteria to evaluate in a dog, feel free to add them in the comments! And feel free to take some/all/any of my questions for your own blog posts.
All answers as honest as I can make them, and accurate as of March 1, 2013. Sorry for the length; I’m trying to be pretty comprehensive.
1) When I ask my dog to sit he:
Does it 99+% of the time if we are indoors, even when there are some distractions. He will take a break from playing to sit. Outdoors or in public is so much less likely that I very rarely ask.
2) When I ask for a down he:
Does it, as for sit. He will actively hunt for a “better” place to lie down, though, rather than put his belly on the cold floor. Down is an easier behavior for him than sit if we are playing; it’s quickly becoming his default position for waiting to resume tug.
3) When I ask him to give me an object he:
Runs away with it, unless I am already holding a treat. He will give a tug toy with 75-80% accuracy. He will not “give” a ball or small toy; he just loosens his grip enough that I can take it out of his mouth.
4) When I ask him to retrieve an object he:
Brings it back, but will preferentially take it to my husband. He is more likely to drop his ball from the upstairs balcony than to bring it all the way back himself.
5) My dog’s “stay” is:
Respectable for his age, I think. We do very little work with sit stays. He will do a down stay while I walk around him, clap my hands, or walk briefly out of the room. He will hold his down stay indefinitely, as long as I’m dispensing treats at least every 15-20 seconds (as per his Protocol for Relaxation, which is among other things a down-stay exercise.)
6) My dog walks on a loose leash:
A large percentage of the time, finally, unless he’s particularly stressed.
7) My dog heels:
Never. Ever. LOL. He won’t take treats when we’re outside, and being on his leash inside freaks him out, so we’ve never bothered to learn this.
8) When we approach a stranger while walking, my dog:
Pulls to go check them out, but can be redirected. So, I can ask him to turn down a different trail or store aisle, and he will.
9) When we greet a stranger my dog:
Does one of two things. One: He sits politely to be petted (timidly–ears down, head lowered) until he “makes friends” and then he jumps up. He does not jump on people who don’t pet him. Two: he gets startled and barks. Scenario two seems to be decreasing and now only happens if the stranger is doing something “weird”–comes around a corner, is off the trail at the park, etc. Usually those people are at a distance.
10) When someone knocks at the door my dog:
Barks. A lot, in what I interpret as a genuinely fearful way. He will go in his crate for a cookie, even with someone at the door, but he continues to bark while I open the door. He will not go in the crate in this scenario unless I throw a treat in first.
11) When someone comes in the house my dog:
Is terrified and barks incessantly. I don’t have good data for this because we don’t have anyone over who isn’t just a maintenance person or such. I suspect that we could work through it with friendly visitors, but I’m not sure.
12) When we see a dog while walking, my dog:
Pulls frantically toward the other dog and is extremely difficult to redirect.
13) When greeting another dog, my dog:
Is generally friendly but can be too exuberant for some dogs. He will also mirror “bad” greetings if the other dog snarls or barks. He does not snarl or bark first.
14) My dog comes when called:
In low distraction areas. I have very little experience otherwise, since we don’t have a real yard.
15) The command my dog executes the most enthusiastically is:
Touching his nose to my hand. (Cue: Touch.)
16) My dog is afraid of:
Cars, the sidewalk, strangers in the house, strangers behaving unpredictably, unusual noises, the bicycle tire pump, the vacuum, having his harness put on, having his nails clipped. And that probably isn’t really everything.
17) My dog’s day-to-day behavior at home is:
Great. Generally trustworthy (With some perfectly reasonable exceptions), sweet and loving, etc.
18) My dog’s biggest problem behavior at home is:
Barking out the front window, even though we have blinds and curtains. Training in progress on this. He will come away from the window when called, but will usually go right back unless I can redirect him.
19) My dog’s biggest problem not at home is:
Being fearful and independent. Not being able to trust me more than he fears new situations.
20) It would make the most difference in my dog’s life if:
we could work through some of his fears, especially his fear of cars/walking on the sidewalk.