I think one of the best reasons to go to training classes and such is that you get some outside perspective on your own dog. Especially if you don’t know a lot of dog people, it’s easy to miss things.
When Silas was a puppy, we went through obedience class. He was a nightmare. He spent the entire class straining at the end of his leash, with me desperately trying to get his attention. Smart, but too distracted to work, was the universal verdict. Which was the same verdict from obedience class, round two.
It’s a label that stuck with him, even in my own mind. I kept on training him at home. We went through Susan Garrett’s Recallers class. “This is fun, but he’ll never do any of this stuff in the real world,” I kept thinking. “He’s just so distracted.” I thought this even though I was, in actuality, starting to get great results with him. He will sit-stay for a frisbee, even at the park that scared him out of his little skin six months ago.
One of the things that came up in his behaviorist’s report, and that was clearly demonstrated in her office, is that he is, in fact, very happy to work. And you know, he really is. This afternoon I was training him to walk with me through the house, and he was just happy. So glad to have something in particular to do, even if it was something pretty boring. (I am forever grateful to Susan Garrett for this–her “balance break” style training has, I think, really made the most of his natural tendency.)
All the poor guy wants is a job. And I’ve spent most of his life thinking that there wasn’t any reason to give him one, because I assumed he wouldn’t be able to do it. Excuse me while I re-conceive everything we do together.